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Summary: Some .have taken Jesus' words as a starting point to building a theology of two kingdoms. A theology of how earthly governments and God are supposed .to relate. Beloved this passage is not about two kingdoms. It is about two images. Updated June 2018

A Little Boy desperately wanted $100.00 ...to buy some toys ...and prayed to God ......for a whole week, ...but nothing happened.

So, ... he decided ...to write a letter to God...requesting ...the $100.00.

When the Post Office got the letter addressed to God ......they forwarded it on ... to the White-house.

The President surprisingly received it... was very impressed, ...touched and amused ...so he instructed his aid ......to send the boy... $5.00.

He thought $5.00 would be a lot... to the little boy.

And... the boy was, indeed, ...delighted by the money.

He sat down ......and immediately wrote a thank you note, ......which read:

Dear God, ... Thank you very much ...for sending the money.

However, ...I noticed ......that for some reason ...you had to send it through Washington DC ...and, as usual, ...they kept ...most of it. (Pause)

Well, ... people living 2000 years ago ...did not like to pay taxes ...anymore ...than we do today.

In fact, ...there was a raging debate about the morality ...of paying tribute ......to Rome.

Our gospel text today ...has a saying of Jesus... that most people ...even unbelievers know ...... "Render unto Caesar ...what is Caesars'"?

And I am convinced ...this familiarity keeps many ...from seeing the deeper meaning ...in this passage.

In addition, ...some people... have taken Jesus words ...and have drawn from them ...an entire theology... of two kingdoms:

The kingdom of man ...and the kingdom of God ...and how these two kingdoms ...are to relate to one another.

Beloved ... I am convinced ...you will find ......that Jesus is speaking in this text ... not about kingdoms ...... but about images.

So, let's set the scene ...for yet another encounter ......between Jesus ...and Israel's religious leadership.

Now...The religious leaders had decided ...to craft a question ...that will entrap Jesus.

And, to do this, ......we find some very strange bedfellows ......on the planning committee: ...both the Pharisees and the Herodians.

The Pharisees, ...of course, ... were the ultra-conservative ...religious party ... in Israel.

They were denounced by Jesus... for their purely external observance of the Law ......and for the multitude of daily rituals and commands ... that they laid on the people ...... commands...which even they ......could not keep.

The Temple leadership ...was riddled with men ...who were Pharisees.

Then, to the far far left ...... were the Herodians.

These were Jews ......who as the name implies... ...were staunch supporters... of King Herod and his dynasty.

And the Herodian Dynasty ... received its power...... from the Roman occupiers in Palestine.

They were in favor of Rome, ... Of Roman rule, ... and of the power of the appointed Roman King ...Herod.

Now, ......it is the far right-wing... Pharisees ...and the far left-wing... Herodians ...who end up conspiring ...to entrap Jesus.

Jesus knew ...that there had to be some devious intent ......for these two sects ... to join forces ... and come together ......to confront him.

The adage: ... "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." ......was certainly true that day.

The enemies of Rome ... and friends of Rome... were united ...in their opposition to Jesus.

So, ...they devise ......a question ...which they are sure ... Jesus cannot ...wriggle out of.

They fashion a question for him ...that they believe ...must be answered ...with a single... Yes or No.

After some passive sounding flattery, ...they put the question ...to Jesus ...this way: BIBLE "Tell us then what you think: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Emperor, or not?" END (Matthew 22:17)

Now, ...the Romans levied ...several taxes ...on the Jews.

There was something called the ground tax ......it was a tax of ten percent ...of whatever came out of the ground ... grains, ... and wine, ...and oil.

Then there was the income tax, ...and by our standards ...this was very light indeed ...just one percent ...of one's cash income ...with no deductions, of course.

And, finally, ...there was ...the poll tax.

It was also a flat tax......and it amounted to a denarius ...which was approximately the wage of a common laborer ......for one day's ...work

And it was levied... on every male from age 14 through 65 ... and on ever female ......from age 12 through 65.

It was this poll tax ......that was the subject of the question ...put to Jesus ...by the Pharisees ... and the Herodians.

It was a special tax, ...because it had to be paid ...in Roman ... silver coinage.

Other business and tax matters ......could be paid in...... copper coinage, gold bullion, or other acceptable currency.

But, ......the poll tax ...had to be paid ...with the Roman ...silver denarius.

And, ...these coins ......bore the image of the Emperor, ...and they were inscribed with an inscription...... "Tiberius Caesar, ...Son of ...the divine Augustus."

Now, ......this tax ...was a point of great controversy ...among the Jews.

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Talk about it...

Stephen White

commented on Nov 6, 2017

I liked your sermon! But, I have a question. I have no problem with believing that Adam was made in the image of God. He was sinless, had free will, etc. But was Adam still in the image (likeness ) of God after he sinned? Or had he fallen from that image? Now, in Gen 5:3, its recorded that Adam had a son in his "own" likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth. We are descendants of Seth. Are we not born into the fallen image of Adam and not in the image of God as Adam had been born but had forfeited? I believe, that when we receive total forgiveness for sin and our sin debt has been removed AND when we become the "righteousness of Christ" (1 Jn 4:17, 2 Cor 5:21), that at least spiritually we may be back in the image of God. The HS is also working to bring our soulish self towards that end also thru the gifts of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). This is where I am in my thought processes and am a work in progress. Thoughts, discussion?

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