Thursday, October 16, 2014

Proper 24

Proper 24
19 October 2014
Matthew 22:15-22

O God, the protector of all who trust in you. Have mercy on us that with You as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal;

These words of Jesus were spoken at the temple in Jerusalem. It's Wednesday of Holy Week -

The Pharisees took counsel on how to trip Jesus up. Jesus had been destroying them. Now there is a time of grace. But not for long. The end will come.

There was no inconsistency in Jesus' words. They wanted to find fault with Him.

Pharisees began to plot against Jesus in response to His actions in healing on the Sabbath day, and drew the Herodians into their conspiracy.

These Pharisees.  They send their disciples along with the Herodians to confront Jesus. Yes!  Pharisees and Herodians in bed together. These Herodians were considered unclean. Pharisees and Herodians were mortal enemies. They  did not like each other. These Herodians.  Were and had been sincerely friendly to Herod the Great, and to his dynasty. They would refer to Herod as, "The King of the Jews!"

They begin by complementing Him. Be aware when they serve desert before dinner.

They flattered Jesus for His honesty and impartiality, then questioning Him politically in relation to His attitude to paying Roman taxes. Jesus did appear to have impressed the Herodians with his reply: "... they marveled (εθαυμασαν) at Him".

What do you think? We know you teach the way of God and truth. It doesn't matter to you nor does it concern you. You do not look into the face of men. Is it lawful to pay tribute, to participate in the census    to Caesar? (And what were His parents doing?) Is it permissible to participate in government?

Jesus knowing their evil asks them, "Why do you tempt me?" Remember the warning of the apostle James, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations." (James 1:2)

"Show me the tribute'" Jesus responds. They displayed  a denarius.

"Whose image portrait is on it?"
"Caesar," they reply.
"Give to CAESAR what belongs to Caesar. And to GOD what belongs to God."

Jesus has no desire to get into a political debate. Especially when He knows their heart and their intent.

There are more pressing matters. Its Holy Week! It's Wednesday! In 48 hours Jesus will be dead. The cross is coming into view. It can't be avoided. It compels Him.

Jesus is content for His followers to render loyalty to Caesar , who is an earthly King. Render to Caesar what he is due;  taxes, revenue, respect. But to Christ, the King of Kings, we owe Him our lives.

“When they heard it they left Him.”  Literally, they let it go. Is this not the definition of forgiveness? Your sin, it's gone. It's been nailed to Jesus' cross. He bore your sin in His own body on the bloody cross of Calvary. That you might die to sin. And live to Him.

There at the cross we fund a great exchange. Your flaws and failures. Given in exchange for Christ's perfection. He renders you to God...offering His own body as the payment for your sin. 

As a Christian, a follower of Jesus; the Christ, the King of Kings, you owe Him everything. For Caesar there is an obligation. Try to evade paying taxes. You won't go far. Run afoul of law, and you must pay the consequences. For King Jesus, the debt you owe for your sin, the bill is marked, "paid in full!"

Jesus gives you NOT religion. Religion says, "If you change first, you may join us." Jesus invites you. He simply says, "Come, join and follow Me, and you'll be changed."

So, what's your obligation to Jesus?

"For all which it is my duty to thank and praise and serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true!
Words – 679
Passive Sentences – 5%
Readability – 79%

Reading Level – 4.0

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