Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm19990127.htm
LUKE: GOSPEL OF CERTIFYING THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
Part LXVIII: Certifying The Christian Faith By Its Respect-But-Separate Stance Toward Man's Government
Lesson: Christianity is true because its Head, Messiah Jesus RIGHTEOUSLY honored human government as an institution WITHOUT CONSENTING AT ALL to its GODLESS ACTIONS.
- If Christianity is true, then it promotes one's allegiance to the God of righteousness above all other entities.
- However, if one honors God, how can he also be a law-abiding and thus upright person by obeying human government if God and that government clash in their values? For example, how can one properly stand against abortion-on-demand and yet pay taxes to a government that funds Pro-choice Planned Parenthood?
- Jesus was cornered on this issue, but His righteous response not only defends the Christian faith, but instructs us in relating simultaneously to God and the government in an upright, wise manner:
- Certifying The Christian Faith By Its Respect-But-Separate Stance Toward Man's Government.
- Luke's Gospel was written for Theophilus to gain insight on the credibility of the Christian faith, Lk. 1:3-4.
- In writing, Luke revealed Jesus' upright Respect-But-Separate Stance toward secular human government that equipped Him to remain totally righteous as God's true Messiah (as follows):
- Christ's interaction with the priests who asked Him of His authority to whip the temple money-changers led to these leaders being intimidated by the crowd's support of Jesus, Luke 19:47-48.
- Thus, when the chief priests and scribes sought to condemn Jesus, they sent out spies to try to catch Him in His words before the people so that they could drive a wedge between Him and the crowd, and thereby condemn Him to death with His onlookers' blessing, Luke 20:19-20 with 20:26.
- Thus, these rulers devised a question on a very divisive issue before the people, and asked the question in such a way that either a simple "Yes" or a "No" answer by Jesus would corner Him into deep trouble:
- Caesar required of the Jews a denarius as tribute money to Rome, and this coin bore Caesar's image on one side and the inscription "Greatest Potentate" on the other, cf. G. C. Morgan, Luke, p. 228.
- This coin was an abomination to the post-exilic and thus anti-idolatrous Jews, for graven images were expressly forbidden in Exodus 20:4 and allegiance to any god but Israel's God was sin, Ex. 20:5
- However, a Jew's refusing to pay the money irked Rome as it hinted of Judas of Galilee's rebellion which Rome had squelched by great force, Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Mes., II, 384.
- Thus, the question posed to Jesus in Luke 20:21-22 if one should pay the tribute money to Caesar or not was intended to trap Jesus into an bad position regardless how He answered: (1) a "yes" answer would have made Jesus look compromising on the law by giving worship to Caesar. That would have undermined His claim as a righteous Messiah. However, (2) a "no" answer could have been reported to Rome to the judgment and possible death of Jesus! (Bib. Know. Com., N.T., p. 255)
- Jesus responded by getting His questioners to reveal that the despised coin's image and inscription belonged to Caesar, not to the Jews who used Caesar's coins in economic trade, Luke 20:23-24.
- Jesus wisely asked His questioners to produce a denarius that they used, and asked them whose graven image and idolatrous inscription was on the coin, Luke 20:23-24.
- In this way, Jesus could get his questioners to establish the fact that the image and inscription were not the testimony of its USERS like themselves, but of Caesar who had minted the coin!
- Having established a distinction between the coin's assertions and those beliefs of the users of the coin, Jesus concluded that Caesar should get his coin back if he taxed it, but that those who bore the image of God should give themselves and their assertions of worship to the true God, Luke 20:25.
- This left the questioners unable to tangle with Jesus, for He had managed to show great respect for Caesar though no support for Caesar's beliefs in a Respect-But-Separate Stance toward Caesar!
Application: We can pay taxes in honor of government as an institution while also opposing abortion, for GOD views our honoring the institution of governments as a SEPARATE act from that institution's use of our revenues. In God's eyes, we are DUAL citizens of heaven and of earth with DUAL loyalties who must prefer God's interests ONLY if they DIRECTLY conflict with government!