Luke: The question of ownership. (Part 2)-06/16/19

Message: ‘The question of ownership’              Text: Luke 20:9-26

Introduction: ‘Image is everything!’

There is a term I don’t hear very often anymore. ‘Spitting image.’

  • Now, from a male perspective, all babies look alike. But a mom knows different.
  • When they see their baby, they see their nose, their husbands ears and their mothers smile.
  • Very often we can see us in them. PP:

There is a sense in which parents do pass an image of themselves on to their children. Particularly a physical one.

  • PP: 2 slides Here are a few Hollywood actors and their children.

PP: ‘Image is everything.’ But that concept can be very dangerous. It was coined in a 1991 Cannon commercial with tennis star Andre Agassi.

‘Image is Everything’ wasn’t a new concept but it resonated then and even more today with our self-absorbed culture.

PP: Let’s think about the pressure culture places on girls to look like magazine models… which often results in

  • eating disorders and plastic surgery in girls in their early teens.

PP: Next Slide

‘Image is everything’.

  • We’re part of a culture that places style (image) over substance.

Even the Church has bought in to that concept when we think:

  • We can’t be seen as a ‘old’ church.
  • We must have professional musicians and singers on our worship team.
  • We must use social media on a regular basis if we want to be culturally relevant.
  • We must have a young, hip, skinny jean wearing, pastor with a lot of hair, who will set the ‘image’ for our church.
  • We need technology to be a vital part of all we do in the church.
  • PP: We need reclaimed wood on the stage, theatrical lighting and no windows in the worship center, if we want people to come and stay.

Image is everything.

  • We’re part of a church culture that places style (image) over substance. (Ken Pell)

And let’s be honest we’re all concerned with image… to some degree. And the formation of our ‘image’ often is determined by what we think others will think of us or what we want others to think of us:

  • So we wear certain kinds of clothes.
  • We move into certain neighborhoods.
  • We send our kids to certain schools.
  • We drive a certain kind of car.
  • We spend our leisure time doing certain kinds of activities.
  • We spend our money on certain kinds of possessions.
  • And yes, we even go to certain kinds of churches…

And the ‘certain kind of … whatever’, is determined by the image we want to project.

  • But if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, none of that, determines your image.

PP: Genesis 1:27 says: So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

In Romans 8:29, the Apostle Paul writes: For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son

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So, as Christian we need to constantly ask ourselves…

  • What kind of image are we projecting to the world around us!

And folks, don’t be misled. While our text talks about money specifically, its intent… is image.

  • Because we’ll discover that image, is about ownership.

Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 20:20

  1. Luke 20:20-26 A demonstration of ownership

PP: A. Luke 20:20-22 Jesus challenged

So they watched Him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch Him in something He said, so as to deliver Him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. So they asked Him, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?”

Social media has redefined a word that used to mean something else. Troll.

  • PP: It used to represent a mythical, cave-dwelling being, typically having a very ugly appearance.
  • PP: If you have young kids they probably relate it to the characters in one of their favorite movies…Trolls.
  • PP: If you’re a fisherman it has an altogether different meaning.

PP: Pertaining to social media, to troll is to antagonize others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content. (Brian Bill)

PP: What we see here in our text is the Jewish religious leaders trolling Jesus.

  • Internet trolls try to destroy people by hiding behind a computer.
  • The religious leaders send spies to try to destroy Jesus by hiding behind flattery.

Teacher, we know that You speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God.

  • Notice that everything they said about Jesus … was absolutely true.
  • They didn’t believe it themselves, but they tried to cover their evil intent with flattery.

So why was it evil? It was meant to puff Jesus up so that His guard would be down and answer their question in such a way as to incriminate Himself.

PP: Here’s the question: Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?”

The problem with the question was… it was a no win situation.

You see, this was not really a matter of paying a tax, of money, (that’s what a tribute was) because the amount was not that much. To the Jews it was a matter of principle.

  • Should a Jew pay taxes to a heathen / Gentile government?

They ask the question not for financial reasons but as a matter of God’s Law. … is it lawful?

They still kind of believed God was supposed to be their king and would be wrong/sinful to pay tribute to anyone, especially to someone that proclaimed to be god himself.

  • If Jesus answers that the tribute should not be paid, they would report Him to Pilate and Jesus would be arrested.
  • If He said that it should be paid, He would alienate many of His followers.

Jesus is fully God! And listen, whether it’s then or now, you can’t slip something by Him. In verse 23 we’re told Jesus knew what they were up to.

PP: B. Luke 20:23-25 Jesus’ response

But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Jesus’ answer showed that both Caesar and God have legitimate realms of authority with corresponding responsibilities.

PP: To begin, Jesus said Show Me a denarius. Perhaps one of the spies took one out of his moneybag.

At that time, one of the benefits of being king was you could issue money with your face and name on it. And the right to issue money included, the right to make people pay taxes with that money.

  • In a way, the king owned the money he issued, since it bore his image and name.

So, when Jesus said Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, He was saying look,

  • If you’re using Caesars money, you need to accept his right to impose a tax on you.

Jesus would not get into trouble with Rome over that answer.

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 Sidebar: I don’t want to get into this too deep, because we certainly could, but let me just say this. Using Jesus’ logic:

  • If you live in a country and enjoy the privileges and benefits of living in that country, then you’re required to pay the taxes of that country.

The hypocrisy of the Jewish people was that they did use Caesar’s money for their benefit, but didn’t want to use it for their responsibility.

  • Remember that, I’ll come back to it later.

The Apostle Paul in Romans 13:1-7 reiterates what Jesus says. I’ll just read verses 1 and 7.

  • Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Here’s the bottom line for Christians and government. Even if the government is not Christian:

  • We’re not free to disobey its laws unless they command us to violate God’s Word.

Jesus uses the image on the coin and the corresponding concepts of ownership and responsibility to make a teaching moment

  • for His disciples,
  • for those in the crown who had a genuine interest in Him
  • and for all of us today who are reading this passage.

Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,

and to God the things that are God’s.

  • The coin belongs to Caesar because his image is on it. Christians belong to God because they bear His image.
  • And just as we have the responsibility to use money to take care of our civil responsibilities.
  • We have the responsibility to use what God has given to us, to take care of our spiritual our Kingdom of God, responsibilities.

That’s the big idea. Let’s flesh that out.

Christian, you were made in God’s image. The Apostle Paul writing to the Christians in Ephesus said PP: In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)

PP: In Paul’s day, to be sealed would have had a powerful meaning…

  • A document was sealed with wax and then imprinted with a person’s ring or stamp.
  • This seal was always used to guarantee and identify ownership.

Christian, you were created in God’s image. Through faith in Jesus, He has sealed you with His Holy Spirit who lives in you.

  • You bear His image.
  • Christian, God owns you.
  • You have a responsibility to give to Him what belongs to Him.

-Your time, your finances, your talents and abilities, your resources, your children, even your body if He askes for it.

  • If you’re saved by God’s grace and living under the His rule;
  • If you’re protected by God’s watchcare,
  • If you’re using God’s power and gifts;
  • then you’re in debt to Him.
  • You belong to Him He owns you!

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Speaking to one of the points I made earlier, the Jews didn’t feel it was right to give tribute to a heathen / Gentile ruler. In His answer, Jesus was saying that, in a way, they were correct, only He didn’t interpreted tribute as money, but worship.

Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

  • Don’t worship Caesar because worship belongs to God alone.

Here’s the thing: How many things, people, activities in your life are objects of worship? None you say, none but God!

Worship includes anything we give to some one or some thing or to some activity that we owe to God.

  • Your time, your finances, your talents and abilities, your resources, your children, even your body if He asks for it.

And when you regularly give those things to some one, to some thing, or to some activity, at the expense of giving it to God, then you’re guilty of worshipping Caesar, of idol worship.

The hypocrisy of the Jewish people was that they did use Caesar’s money for their benefit, but didn’t want to use it for their responsibility.

  • Remember I said to hold this till later?

The same hypocrisy exists in far too many Christians today.

  • They want to experience the benefits and blessings of belonging to God, w/o the responsibilities that go along with God’s ownership of their lives.
  • They want all the blessings, all the talents and abilities God gives them, but they want to use them for some one, some thing or some activity rather than to God who owns them.

 PP: C. Luke 20:26 The outcome

And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch Him in what he said, but marveling at His answer they became silent.

The spies failed in their trolling of Jesus.

  • They failed to force Him to either bring down the fury of Rome on Him or the disappointment of His followers.

They marveled at his answer. They were intrigued by it. They hated Him, they wanted Him dead, but they couldn’t get past the way He handled Himself… He spoke with authority.

PP: Next Slide

 Conclusion: An African Proverb says:

  • The man who walks two different roads will split his pants.

The Apostle Paul put it a slightly different but still the same way in Ephesians 4:17-24: Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Christian, the questions are:

  • Who are you trying to look like?
  • Whose image are your reflecting?

The world put’s so much importance on the outside, image. We try to create a new image by how we dress, our careers, our things, education, what we watch and listen to…

  • yet, in doing so what we’re actually doing is covering over the Image of God in us…

God has set His image upon us,

  • to mark us, to claim us, to show the world that we belong to Him
  • and all we’re doing by conforming to the world, is successively negating what He has done.

The Apostle Paul knew that danger when he wrote Romans 12:1-2: PP: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind

In other words, stop trying to look like everyone else, stop trying to create an image of yourself that represents the world around you.

  • Because when you do, you’re showing who owns, who has authority, over your life.
  • And it’s not God!

Instead, live out, reflect the image of God that’s already present.

Show the world that you belong to God, that He owns you and that you live under His authority.

PP: put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

(Ephesians 4:22-24)

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