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Show me the Money
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Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Mt 22:17-21
There they are with a coin that has Caesar’s idolatrous image on it, asking what they thought was a trick political question and Jesus makes it a question of worship.
As usual, Jesus turns our attention to what we should value most. To our neighbor in need, those left out by a culture that does nothing better than show partiality. The greatest among you will be your servant. Jesus is leading up to saying in Matthew’s gospel.
John Calvin famously said in one of my favorite quotes that the human mind is a permanent factory of idols. We are so inclined to look for some means, other than God, for security, protection, and comfort.
For some of us it’s a particular political party, for others, it’s an addiction, or self-image; or a standard of living, the list is endless really.
Jesus calls us back to the first commandment of our faith – you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart. You are stamped in his image and He has delivered you from slavery to sin.
And yes this identity will cost us something. A life filled with meaning and purpose and connection and community and compassion and forgiveness is not the easy life.
But it is the abundant life that Christ calls us to every day.
Questions to ponder or discuss:
What does your Christian faith require of you? This week, be aware of the cost of discipleship. Are there ever circumstances where following Jesus requires effort, generosity, compassion or advocacy? If not, we probably need to step up our game!
See you in church!