Being not too far out from the old April 15th deadline I’m guessing we’ve all paid our taxes for the year, or at least made some sort of arrangement to. How do you feel about paying taxes? I’m thinking most of us don’t have too much heart ache about it being we’re a democracy and receive various benefits as a result..What if though, tomorrow Russia came in, forcibly took over our country and demanded we pay them tax as the reward for having stolen our land?
That was pretty much the scenario in Israel when Jesus showed up on the scene.
In our text this week Jesus will be answering a trick question posed once again by the Pharisees, regarding taxes. He’ll be talking about our responsibility to the kingdoms of men and also pointing out our more significant debt to the kingdom of heaven. We’ll see how, according to him, they’re very much interrelated.. Matthew 22:15-22
Our text opens up with the Pharisees again plotting against Jesus. All through the book of Matthew the Pharisees have been the ones openly opposing him. They were the bible scholars of their day, yet their religious convictions and self proclaimed righteousness actually prevented them from seeing and cooperating with God.
How might we fall into that same trap? Do we feel the need to argue with or criticize those who don’t agree with our views on politics, worship style or alcohol consumption? Or even worse, do we question their acceptance by God given their view on less essential issues than the core truth of Jesus as Lord? What can we do to make sure we’re cooperate with God’s priority of loving him and his people?
Since the Pharisees couldn’t trip Jesus up with any of their questions on the law, they teamed up with basically their enemies, the Herodians who were pro- Rome in a political tact to oppose him…
In vs 17 we find their ill-willed question regarding paying taxes or not. On the surface it appears to be a loose, loose question.. If Jesus says yes they should pay the tax, the crowd who expected him to overthrow the government at any moment, would have been severely disappointed..If he says no, the Herodians would turn him over to the Romans for treason..Jesus in his infinite wisdom appeases everyone. Well except for the Pharisees who were hoping for the worst.
In pointing to Caesar’s image on the coin denoting his ownership of it, we can draw a parallel to God’s image inscribed on our hearts pointing to his ownership of us.
We as Christians are citizens of both heaven and earth with responsibilities to both kingdoms…Do you see paying taxes as a heavenly or earthly responsibility? Does Romans 13:1-2 shed any light there?
How might this principle effect our work performance? The way we go about doing business in the community or pay our other debts?
What about the other debt Jesus mentioned? After addressing the debt to government Jesus added AND render to God what’s God’s..What do you perceive as your debt to God? If you’re a parent what’s the one thing you want more than anything from your own children?
What is the most important thing you have given them? Science substantiates that love has the potential to facilitate healing and overall wellbeing. Has knowing the immense love God has for you affected your life in a positive manner? How so?
It should be a challenging and encouraging study. Looking forward to digging in together!