Day 213 | Sunday, 18 October 2020
The assigned Scripture readings for this the 20th Sunday after Pentecost are: Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 and Matthew 22:15-22 which I am sharing from both the Message and the CEB.
15 That's when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging.
16 They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod's followers mixed in, to ask, "Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don't pander to your students. 17 So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
18 Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, "Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Do you have a coin? Let me see it." They handed him a silver piece. 20 "This engraving - who does it look like? And whose name is on it?" 21 They said, "Caesar." "Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his." 22 The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads.
Matthew 22:15-22 CEB Question about taxes
15 Then the Pharisees met together to find a way to trap Jesus in his words. 16 They sent their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are genuine and that you teach God’s way as it really is. We know that you are not swayed by people’s opinions, because you don’t show favoritism. 17 So tell us what you think: Does the Law allow people to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
18 Knowing their evil motives, Jesus replied, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” And they brought him a denarion. 20 “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked. 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 22 When they heard this they were astonished, and they departed.
There’s certainly a lot of meaning to be found in money. Jesus knows that money is a major factor in the shaping of our lives, and he focuses on it a great deal in his ministry — more than he emphasizes human sexuality. In fact, his focus on money is second only to the kingdom of God.
For Jesus, money is to be used: to pay taxes to the emperor, but also to advance God’s work in the world. Money is never an end in itself, a treasure to be socked away like a Continental Dollar for 244 years until it has grown in value 1,500 times. What would be the point of that? You are going to die long before you see that kind of appreciation, and you can’t take it with you — as the saying goes, “There are no luggage racks on hearses.”
The meaning of money is that it’s an asset, a resource for us to put to work in the world. If you listen carefully, your money is not saying “I fly, mind your business, or E Pluribus Unum.” Instead, it is saying, “Use me.”
“At a Wednesday evening church meeting, a very wealthy man rose to give his testimony.
‘ “I’m a millionaire,” he said, “and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life.
‘“I can still remember the turning point in my faith, like it was yesterday:
‘ “I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God’s work or nothing at all. So, at that moment I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today.”
As he finished, it was clear that everyone had been moved by this man’s story. But, as he took his seat, a little old lady sitting in the same pew leaned over and said: “Wonderful story! I dare you to do it again!’”