Summary: Christ is the answer for life's difficult questions.
Matthew 22: 15 – 22 / Why Is The Sky Blue?
Intro: People, by nature, are inquisitive. Anyone who has ever interacted with children knows they can ask very difficult questions, questions that are not always easy to answer because difficult questions often have difficult answers. Here are just a few questions: why do leaves change different colors? If shampoo comes in so many colors, why is the later on your head always white? If the No. 2 pencil is so popular, why is it still No. 2? If you choke a smurf, what color does it turn? And my all time favorite, why is the sky blue?
I. VS. 17 – Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Tough question.
A. Your wife comes to you and says, “does this outfit make me look fat?” Your neighbor asks you, “have you stopped beating your kids?”
B. Jesus was given a question that was expected to have no answer. He was expected to be wrong regardless of how he answered.
C. We often pose questions to God that we feel can’t have a right answer either. “Why did this bad thing happen?” “Why am I in this bad situation?” “Why me, Lord?” They are legitimate questions; but, sometimes, we already know the answer to our question and God can’t answer in a way that will every satisfy us.
II. This is the 1st of 3 debates between Jesus and the Jewish leaders recorded in the gospel of Matthew. In each case, Jesus masterfully debates and embarrasses them.
A. VS. 21 – “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s . . .” The verb used for “GIVE” or “RENDER” is the GK verb APODOTE and it carried the meaning of GIVING BACK or RETURNING.
B. Any item at that time with a person’s stamp or inscription on it belonged to that person. Sort of like putting a monogram on something means it belongs to the person whose initials it bears.
C. Jesus cleverly avoids saying to pay the tax. He only said to give back to Caesar what belonged to Caesar. “That money doesn’t have your face or name on it, so give it back?” Would you?
III. Jesus doesn’t stop there! He goes on to challenge the religious leaders to do something they might find really difficult.
A. VS. 21b – “and to God what is God’s.” For me, this passage takes me back to the parable of the wicked tenants (MT. 21: 33 – 46) Jesus says to the religious leaders and to us, You and I bear God’s image; so give yourself back to God.
B. The religious establishment and the not-for –profit sector of our economy suffers today because people have forgotten that they are created in God’s image and therefore, we must give ourselves back to God, holding nothing back.
C. We find it difficult within our own church to find people who are willing to give of themselves and their time to serve as an officer. Within our midst we have people who never darken the doors of the church at any other time than on Sunday morning. Is that REALLY giving back to God that which belongs to God?
Conclu: I shared this parable with you once before; but, I believe it is worth repeating. There was a farmer who was taking a sack full of corn to sell in town. On the way, he saw the king riding by in his fancy gold chariot. The farmer stopped him and said, “Dear King! You give me so much through your generosity! I wish there was something I could give you.” The King answered, “Well, you can give me all that corn?” “Oh, I can’t do that. I need to sell it in the market; but, I will give you 5 kernels.” “All right, said the king. I’ll take 5 kernels. The farmer gave the 5 kernels and continues his journey to town. When he go to the market and opened his sack, he found 5 of his kernels had turned to solid gold. He wept, realizing that if he had given more, more would have been given him in return.”
Life’s difficult questions can often be answered by a simple act of self-giving!
Why is the sky blue? The sun’s rays hit the earth’s atmosphere, where the light is scattered by nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the air. The blue wavelength of this light is affected more than the red and green wavelengths causing the surrounding air to appear blue.
That was an easy question to answer. A more difficult one is this, “Will you give to God that which belongs to God?”