Saturday, October 17, 2020

Proper 24


Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 24
Matthew 22:15-22
18 October 2020
Coins of Commitment

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;

Lord Jesus, bless Thy Word, that we might trust in Thee!

These words of Jesus were spoken at the temple in Jerusalem. It's Wednesday of Holy Week – Within twenty-four hours. Jesus will be arrested. This will instigate a speedy trial, conviction and execution. The wheels of Justice are about to commence.

But what justice?  The LORD’s justice. 

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. Still, they wanted to find fault with Him.

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

These Pharisees. 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 flatter Jesus for His honesty and impartiality. Then they question 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 Caesar?

And what were His parents doing? “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David :) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.” – Luke 2:4-5 KJV

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)

Everyone experiences trials of various kinds. We enter our hardships as deposits into the checkbook of our life, not withdrawals. How we categorize that moment when assessing our life as a whole points us to Christ who strengthens us.

We may not be able to control our circumstances. But we can control how we think about our circumstances. When bad things happen, we can immediately say, "This is terrible. This is a no good, very bad day. My life is a wreck. All is going wrong. Why did this happen to me?"

Or we can say, "This is a bad thing, but I will get through it. I will learn and be stronger. I will call the growth and strength worth rejoicing over, even while it hurts."

The Psalmist teaches, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes.” – Psalm 119:71  

Trials may test our faith but they also produce endurance. And this endurance produces maturity which is being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Says St. Paul, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”- Romans 8:28-30

We ask the LORD, “Lord, help me. Help me see what benefits You can reap from this.” These words, “Lord help me,” are the words of a helpless child clinging to Savior fully in control.

Jesus is still in charge of the conversation. He controls the narrative.

"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. It’s Holy Week! It's Wednesday! In 48 hours Jesus will be dead. The cross is coming into view. It can't be avoided. The cross 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, you owe Him your life.

When they heard it they left Him.”  Literally, they let it go.

And is this not the definition of forgiveness? Your sin, it's gone. 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 find that great exchange. Your flaws and failures. Given in exchange for Christ's perfection. He renders you to God...offering His own life as a sacrifice; as the payment for your sin.

As a follower of Jesus the Christ, the King of Kings, you owe Him everything.

As for Caesar, there is only an obligation. Try to evade paying taxes. You won't go far. Run afoul of law, and you must pay the consequences. Stopped by the man…you must pay the man!

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, 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!

Passive Sentences-3%
Readability – 77%
Reading Level – 4.6


“The Crucifixion” Woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, The Book of Books in Pictures copyright © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.

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