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CHURCH BUILDINGS ARE CLOSED

Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Sunday 18 October 2020

by Andy Cokayne 18 October 2020

A call to worship from Psalm 96 v 1-9

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Our first hymn is: ‘Before the throne of God above’

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Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

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Our second hymn is: ‘Happy the man who finds the grace’

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One of the passages of scripture set for today is : Matthew 22 v15-22 Paying Taxes to Caesar

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the poll-tax to Caesar or not?’

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’ When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.


Message: With Eyes that See

How often have we been drawn in by someone’s fancy words, or taken off guard by someone’s compliments? The children’s rhyme says “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Really! Words are so powerful. Our mouths are so potent, for both good and bad. They can give away our thoughts so easily. Sometimes before we even realise it. We sometimes say “Words are cheap.” Meaning that it’s the actions that are often costly, not the words that promise them. But in truth words are rarely cheap.

Jesus here sees straight through the compliments that come his way. “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.” Now to me that is very complimentary, but really it is a very accurate summation of Jesus, his teaching, and his approach to people. He is a man of integrity. He truly teaches the way of God. He is not swayed by who He is talking to, as He treats everyone the same. The Pharisees disciples, who had come to Jesus, had got Him right. Yet Jesus saw through their compliments, and was not fooled by their words.

The Pharisees concerns were growing that Jesus was having more and more influence with the common people. That what he was saying firstly challenged their elite position in society, and secondly encouraged the common people in knowing that they could have a relationship with God. The Pharisees decided that it was time that they did something about this ‘Jesus’, and so sent a group to try and catch Him in his words.

They go and ask Jesus a simple question, that no doubt had crossed the minds of many before. “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Was it right that we Jews should pay taxes to the occupying forces of Rome. Whilst the question looks straight forward, the answer is far from it. If Jesus said “Pay the taxes.” Then the people as a whole would have looked on Him as a collaborator, turned against Him, and he would have lost His following, and the Pharisees would have their way. Whereas if Jesus said “Don’t pay the taxes.” The authorities would have looked on Him as a rebel, and would have arrested Him as one leading a rebellion, taken Him away, and thrown Him in jail. Again He would have been removed from the scene and the Pharisees would have their way. Surely this was a fool proof question for the Pharisees to pose. Send the trainee Pharisees, that Jesus might not have known so well, soften Him up with a few compliments, so He is off his guard, and pose the question that whichever way He jumps He is in trouble, either with the people or with the authorities. Genius! Absolute Genius! They must have been rubbing their hands together, congratulating themselves on such a brilliant plan. It was fool proof.

Jesus firstly spots their duplicity. He realises that they are not wanting to learn from His wisdom, but rather to trap Him in His response. Secondly His response confounds His questioners, by taking a practical approach “Show me a denarius, whose inscription is it?” He firstly disarms their question, then declares a great truth “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”.

In Jesus time anything that had a man’s stamp or inscription on it belonged to that man. A Roman coin had Caesars inscription on it - Caesar’s image - and therefore it belonged to Caesar. In the same way, man has God’s stamp on him. Man is made in God’s image we read in Genesis 1v27. Therefore, man belongs to God. Our taxes belong to Caesar, but we ourselves belong to God. Therefore, we must give taxes to “Caesar”, and ourselves to God.

Jesus not only sees their evil intent, and so avoids the trap His questioner’s have set, but also enables us to see that we have dual citizenship. Our citizenship in the state requires that we pay money for the services and benefits we receive. Our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven requires that we pledge to God our primary obedience and commitment.

But what are we to learn:

  • Firstly we are to be on our guard against flattery. We make a great mistake if we think that persecution and hard times are the only weapons the Devil will use against us. We should remember the many examples that God has given us in his word. What brought about the ruin of Samson? not the armies of the philistines, but the pretend love of a philistine woman. What led to the fall of Solomon? Not the strength of his outward enemies, but the seduction of his many wives. Satan is never so dangerous as when he appears as an angel of light. Remember Judas betrayed Jesus not with an accusation or a sword, but with a kiss.
  • Secondly we should pray for wisdom. We may not all be posed with such challenging questions, but we all have times where we feel that whichever way we choose we are going to be in trouble, we cannot see the way out of the situation or the mess we are in. The christian who remains focussed, and who daily asks for grace and a practical common sense, will not go far wrong. Remember the advice of James in 1v5 ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.’

Perhaps in these challenging days, we should be careful with our words, that through our words we may not deceive or frustrate others, and that we should ask for the wisdom that only Our Father God gives to those who ask Him. That He will enable us to see the way forward.


Our final hymn is: ‘When we walk with the Lord’

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We are united with churches throughout the country as we share together in the ‘The UK Blessing’.

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