Good morning everyone. Well, we have made it to the middle of April. Our normal tax day would be today, but it has now been extended a quarter due to, you guessed it, the coronavirus. None of us could have ever imagined such a thing just a month and a half ago. We were still meeting, like we normally do, back then. I thought I would spend some time today talking about what Jesus had to say about taxes. Maybe you have filed yours already or maybe you’re taking advantage of the extension; either way we must pay them. The text is from Matthew 22:15-22.
“Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. 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.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
The Pharisees sent their disciples (they weren't even willing to go themselves) along with some Herodians to entrap Jesus. A simple question about taxes could be just what they needed. The people of Israel didn't like paying taxes, and the Romans required it. No matter how Jesus would answer, it seems he would make enemies on one side or the other. The Pharisees would discredit him, and they would win. However, their game was too small in scale. They were not ready to go where Jesus would lead. "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's."
I can more easily give to the "emperor" what is due because it is only a percentage of what I consider mine. But when I am commissioned with giving to God what is God’s, I balk. Everything is God's. And I wonder, am I really ready to give God everything? We often fail to be the kind of disciple Jesus has called us to be. Which is why we are so thankful for Jesus. He is the only one who gave God everything. He laid down his very life for us under Pontius Pilate (or Caesar). And He rendered unto God 100% of what was due for us and for our salvation. Amen.
Pastor Bryan E. Drebes
Pastor Drebes attended Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, beginning in 1997. He spent the summer of 1999 teaching English to Chinese middle school teachers in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. He served a four-month vicarage at St. John Lutheran Church, Plymouth, Wisconsin, followed by eight months at Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas. Pastor Drebes was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry at Zion Lutheran Church, Palmyra, Missouri on August 19, 2001, and installed as Associate Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas on September 9, 2001. He served Bethany for 14 years. Pastor Drebes accepted a Divine