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Summary: A reminder to live as a people set apart by God, for God, and for the people; instead of being a people of, by, and for the world.

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INTRO

This morning, we’re going to dove-tail onto last week’s message. Okay, now if you remember from last week, the Pharisees asked Jesus by “what authority are you doing these things” — these things being the healing the crippled and the lame, feeding the poor and the hungry, forgiving sins, etc, etc. To them, he was a paradox of faith that they couldn’t understand. He did things they didn’t do, nor were they will willing to do. They couldn’t understand why Jesus cared for all people the same regardless of who they were.

So, they confronted him in the temple; and bit off far more than they could chew. What we’re gonna hear this morning was a continuation of how Jesus was calling into question the intentions, heart, and actions of the religious community, and how he reminded them to live as a people set apart by God, for God, and for the people; instead of being a people of, by, and for the world.

Okay, with that, let’s open our bibles again to the Gospel according to Matthew 22:15-22. This can be found on pp. 1535 of the pew Bible. READ MATTHEW 22:15-22.

THE TRAP

 Benjamin Franklin, it’s believe, first coined this phrase, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes." Here’s another one that was found in the farmer’s almanac, “If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is with representation."

 All joking aside, here’s another quote along these lines that kind of hits at the Gospel. J.C. Watts, Jr. a former US Congressman turned pastor and entrepreneur once said, “Death and taxes may be inevitable, but they shouldn't be related.”

 Unfortunately for Jesus — or maybe the other side — that’s kind of what was going on here in the passage. Let’s take it from the top and see what I mean

 Talk about the Herodians/Pharisees.

 Herodians: pro-government, religious group that theologically allied themselves with the ruling elite. Walter A. Elwell, a commentator for Tyndale publishing said, “the Herodians were men of influence—the aristocrats of Palestine.”

 opposed to the Pharisees (anti-establishment)

 both hated Jesus equally and aligned to bring down Jesus, because what he stood for and was doing flew in the face of both their agendas.

 Talk through initial dialogue of trying to flatter Jesus / how Jesus responds.

 Question of the day: What about Taxes?

 Question itself was a trap

 If Jesus had responded -- yes, pay taxes, then it would have looked like he was supporting Cesar and therefore a enemy of the people. If he had responded “no” he would have been considered and enemy of the state and worthy of treason.

 Either answering yes or no would have been instantly disastrous for Jesus, and he knew this —so he answers cryptically in a way that ties in with the heart of God and what God’s intention for his people was all along.

 In answering the way he did, Jesus avoided the politics of the day, and reveals the heart of humanity and how we chose to align ourselves: with the world, or God.

GIVE TO CEASER

 Jesus is saying, “This money bears the image of Cesar. If the state demands taxes, then pay your taxes.

 Jesus knew that sensible taxation is justifiably necessary to ensure that the government which is there to protect you functions properly — even the ones that disregard human freedom. His answered was worded in such a way that said if you try to avoid paying taxes, then you’re sinning against God because he ordained the state for your benefit —since you’ve God out of running or heavily influencing the moral compass of the state.

1 Peter 2:13–17says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

 Don’t give to Cesar what belongs to God: your love, heart, and devotion

GIVE TO GOD

 Image of God

Romans 8:29: “ For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”

 Holy Living -- READ COLOSSIANS 3:1–14

 We’re called to give away what God gave us: Love, forgiveness, mercy and life — to name only a few.

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