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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sermon 10162011

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Jesus Christ, You clearly saw, perceived and understood when the Pharisee’s plotted to entrap You.  Yet, willingly, You entertained their question because You wanted them to correctly understand that God places all of us under the authority of rulers like Caesar, and we are to render to the government the things needed.  Open our hearts to hear Your message so we may render to our Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, with the clear understanding that what we have is given because of what You did on the cross for each of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Have you ever had a movie that creates an image in your brain that forever will be engrained in in your mind?  For me, the image of Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. in the movie, “Jerry Maguire” shouting the phrase, “Show me the money!” over the phone is one of these images.  In this morning’s Gospel, like with Jerry Maguire, Jesus asks those who have surrounded Him to ‘show him the money’.  Unlike the movie, Jesus request isn’t for selfish gain, but to profoundly explain a truth which we daily live with and need to clearly understand.

Jesus had only two days prior rode into the Holy City of Jerusalem on the colt, the foal of a donkey and was seen as one who would be ‘crowned’ King.  The people viewed Him as the one who would save them from the tyranny of Rome and re-establish the Kingdom to its rightful place.  The Pharisee’s, Herodians and Saducee’s saw Jesus as a threat, one that needed dealt with quickly and needed silenced by whatever means necessary.  So a devious alliance was formed to destroy Jesus by whatever means. The easiest way was to incite and involve the Roman authority currently overseeing Jerusalem.

Hence, a plot was set in motion where Jesus would be presented with a question to entrap Him.  Jesus would be asked a loaded question to trick Him into speaking against the Roman Government and their leaders and thus remove Him from causing the Jews any more problems with His teachings.  They asked him, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”  Clearly, this is an attempt by Satan to prevent Jesus Christ from completing His mission here on earth.  Satan uses any and all means to thwart and prevent the fulfillment of the plan of salvation that is found clearly in the Old Testament scripture.

But, Jesus Christ, Human and Divine, Omniscient God that He is knows what is happening as Matthew tells us, “aware of their malice, [Jesus] said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites?”  Clearly knowing what they were trying to accomplish, Jesus unlike in Jerry Maguire, says, “Show me the coin used for the tax”, in essence, ‘show me the money.’  When they finally find a denarius, which they didn’t have with them, because they thought Jesus would just answer their question and they would then have Him trapped, Jesus turns the tables and asks them a question.  Jesus says, “Whose head is this, and whose title?”  On the Roman denarius, a silver coin of the commonwealth, it was equivalent to the typical days wage of a laborer.  Where the denarius was used the Emperor had power.  Hence, on one side the image of Caesar and the other side usually a saying of some kind, just as we today have the founding father’s figures and other images that we denote as ‘heads’ or ‘tails’.  So to the questioners answer, “The Emperor”.  And swifter and more knowledgeable than they realized, Jesus tells them the answer to their question, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s”.  In this quick response, Jesus foils the plot and snare meant to entrap Him and is freed from the snare set by Satan and those working with him to prevent Jesus Christ from His destiny on a hill known as Golgotha.

Yet, Jesus doesn’t let even us today off the hook.  For Jesus complete statement reads, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s”.  For it is clear, Jesus Christ, wants those who were plotting against Him and all of us today to understand we have a greater responsibility, not only to the government, but to God who put the government in place to insure good order.

Martin Luther was very clear about our understanding and importance of the government.  Luther says in his Small Catechism in the Table of Duties:
“Of Civil Government – Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but God; the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power?  Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same; for he is the minister of God to thee for good.  But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Properly we need to understand we live in the two kingdoms, a kingdom of power and a kingdom of grace.  We live simultaneously in these two kingdoms, not against each other, but in harmony with one another clearly understanding that God has placed the kingdom of power over us to protect us and gives us the kingdom of grace that clearly points to what Jesus Christ has done for each and every one of us.  Does this mean we are freed to sin against the laws made by the kingdom of power, because of the freedom found in Jesus Christ and His death for each of us?  By no means, the laws created in the kingdom of power are meant to be a guide for us and how we show proper respect for the government God has placed over us and therefore reverencing God for His divine favor upon us.  Therefore, though we grumble, we should gladly pay our taxes, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s in order to receive the services the government provides us.

And on the other hand, we are afforded the opportunity to give “to God the things that are God’s”.  Yes, truthfully everything is God’s, but the intent is not for us to grumble about what we give back to the government or even to God, but understand we are but stewards of the gifts entrusted to us in our talents and treasures, whether they are our own personal abilities or the fruits of the land we harvest.  We are called to use the gifts to give God glory.  For in giving God glory, we honor not only the government placed over us by God, we honor His Son’s gift of eternal life and we honor and show our understanding of our living in these two kingdoms, one of power manifest in the government and the other of grace.  For it is the kingdom of grace that is clearly manifest in what Jesus Christ did in His life, death and resurrection for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
//trial script