Free Indeed

As Jesus manages His last few days on earth He judiciously surveys the controversial trap set to ensure Him. Matthew 22:15~Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. (ESV) The Herodians are an aristocratic Jewish group that favors the policies of Herod Antipas and support the Roman government. Think of them as sellouts. While typically, they and the Pharisees are bitter enemies, the enemy of my enemy becomes my friend. As these to unlikely friends join forces, they attempt to trap Christ Jesus.

Listen to their diabolical alliance which sets about to flatter our Lord. Matthew 22:16~And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. (ESV) Matthew 22:17~Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? (ESV)

Fully aware of their intentions, Jesus asks why they are testing Him. Matthew 22:18-19~But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. (ESV) It was a silver coin with Caesar’s image. Matthew 22:20-21~And Jesus said to them, Whose likeness and inscription is this? They said, Caesar’s. Then he said to them, Therefore render (ἀποδίδωμι apodidōmi) to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (ESV)

(ἀποδίδωμι apodidōmi) the word translated render means the payment of rightful due. So, Jesus first says, Don’t cheat on your taxes. Then He says, that we are to render to God, the things that are God’s. Has God ever given you anything, then give God what is due. Those are red-letter words of the One who saves souls. So, we ask, what things are we to give? The first thing we are to give to God is our total allegiance. Then, we are also to render, or give, to God the payment of rightful due monetarily. Listen to the way Paul tells us to give back to God in 2 Corinthians 9:7~Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful (ἱλαρός hilaros) giver. (NIV) 

Giving back to God is never to be done reluctantly, or grudgingly, which is with an attitude of regret. God is not looking for your regret, He wants your cheerfulness, (ἱλαρός hilaros). Cheerful, joyous, prompt to do anything. Yeah, that’s right God wants a servant who knows they got way more than they ever deserved and their gratitude comes out in their giving. I don’t believe in strong-arming people with compulsion, or external pressure. We are to render to God cheerfully because we are blessed.

The Pharisees and Herodians are amazed. Matthew 22:22~When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away. (ESV) Jesus did exactly as they had deceitfully said, He taught the way of God truthfully. This is reminiscent of John 1:17~For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (NIV) Ole Mo laid the Law, but it is in Jesus Christ that we are given the freedom of forgiveness. Jesus will either be your Deliverer or He will be your Destroyer. See the Law reveals God’s standards and condemns those who violate them, but grace provides redemption to sinners who break God’s Law. Romans 3:23~for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NIV) 

I want you to know today, that whom the Son sets free, is free. (John 8:36) So I have to ask you, have you been set free from your sins. If not today is a great day to confess and believe in Jesus Christ. If you have been set free from the burden of sin, what does your life look like to others? Are you starting conversations with others about Jesus? 2 Timothy 1:9~He has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.(NIV) Today, let God’s grace propel you to share His goodness with others as you look for ways to serve your neighbors, making Him (Jesus) famous.

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