Manna for Today

 

Religion and Government (Luke 20:20-26)

Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?”

25 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.  (Luke 20:20-26)

Learn it:

            Jesus’ enemies are looking for ways to trap Jesus so they can arrest him.  They think it would be easy to trip him up by mixing religion and government.  Walking the line between these two institutions is always tricky.  They quiz Jesus by asking about if people should pay their taxes to Caesar?  They are curious if recognizing Caesar’s authority, which at times he is seen as a deity, would conflict with the Jewish faith.  They want Jesus to say something about denouncing the authority of Caesar and hope that it could be seen as rebellious to the Roman authorities. 

            Jesus is quick on his feet, as you would expect the Son of God to be.  He asks whose image is on the coin.  It’s Caesar of course!  Jesus tells them should give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. He beautifully walks the thin line between government and faith.  He understands believer are going to live in places where a government is going to be over them and they will have to live peaceably within them.    

Live it:

            How do we as Christian’s walk this line of being citizens of heaven yet living on earth with authorities we have to respect?  It is something we as a Church have struggled with for centuries.  Sometimes we have done it well but most times we have not done it well.  We want our nation to be run with good morals and integrity.  In America as citizens we must play a part in helping our nation grow and run well.  We should let our faith influence how we work and serve our communities.  We want to set a good example of what Christianity looks like. 

            We want people to see the love, mercy, and compassion of the gospel.  We want to display the love of Christ because that will be attractive to the world.  We cannot force people by laws in following Jesus.  Jesus always gave people the freedom to accept the gospel or reject it.  Throughout history when nations have forced people to follow Jesus it never turned out well.  Spreading the gospel is a heart issue and by changing peoples hearts we can influence our nation.  How are you doing at being the light in the world? 


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The Parable of the Tenants (Luke 20:9-19)

He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!”

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

“ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.  (Luke 20:9-19)

Learn it:

            In this parable, we read about a vineyard owner who is wanting to collect what is owed to him from the tenants that are running the farm.  This was a very common practice back then, that even if a landowner was not around, he still expected his farm to be successful and he would receive some of the harvest.  The tenants do not feel the same way and with each person that is sent to them, they get more angry and violent with their response.  Finally, the owner returns he kills the tenants and gives the vineyard to other people. 

            In Jesus’ parable, Israel is the tenants.  God has given them the promised land and he expects them to use it faithfully.  As we see in the Old Testament they fail to do so, and God sends prophet after prophet to call them back into a relationship with him.  They continue to ignore the warnings and they abuse all the prophets.  Now God has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, and Israel is going to reject and kill him.  God is going to take away the vineyard, the promises of God, and give them to the Gentiles.  Someone else is going to steward his promises.  This is when the Jews, who are hearing this parable, get upset and want to arrest Jesus.  Things continue to escalate between Jesus and the Jewish leaders and God’s plan continues on course for the redemption of the world. 

Live it:

            What do we take away from this story?  We see in this story that God is patient with disobedient Israel.  He gave them multiple chances to repent and make amends.  With God’s patience, there is an end and they will be held accountable.  The same is true in our lives God is patient with us, we will be held accountable for our actions here on earth when we stand before God.  We also learn that nothing can stop God’s plan of redemption.  It was predicted in the Old Testament and it is now happening through the life of Jesus.  The Jewish leaders may be upset and are trying to stop him but in their efforts, they are actually doing what God wants them to do.  This is a story of how God includes all of humanity into his family and we need to be faithful and bear God-honoring fruit in our lives. 


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Jesus in the Temple (Luke 19:14-20:8)

Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.  

20 One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. 2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or from men?”

5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”  (Luke 19:45-20:8)

Learn it:

            Jesus is now in Jerusalem and even though his relationship with the Jewish leaders is already on thin ice, he goes and cleans out the temple.  In the temple, they are selling animals for the people to offer sacrifices but according to the law, they must be bought by using a Hebrew shekel, not in Roman currency.  What was happening was the people that were exchanging the money were not doing this exchange for free but charging a price.  Jesus did not like how commercialized the temple had become!  It was no longer just a place for worship.  He then removed all of these people from the temple to get it back to a house of prayer. 

            The chief priests and others are now looking for a way to kill Jesus because he was becoming a real problem for them.  As we have seen throughout the Gospel of Luke Jesus’ authority has been questioned a few times.  In response to this questioning, Jesus asks them a question.  He asks them about where John the Baptist gets his authority.  This is a question that puts them in a tight spot.  We can see that in the hearts of the chief priests they are more concerned about what people will think of them than what the truth really is. 

Live it:

            Sin can creep easily into our lives.  I am sure these services in the temple started out innocently enough.  The had for a long time had animals available for people to purchase in order to sacrifice them.  It the Hebrew shekel was the main currency there were no problems.  Over time the popular currency changed, and the temple still wanted there to be no obstacles for people to worship God.  Then greed began to slip in, and they wanted to make a little money from each transaction.  How careful do we need to be with sin in our lives?  It might seem like a convenience or meeting a need, but it can grow and quickly take over our lives. 

            The second thing we learn is from how the Pharisee’s response to Jesus’ question.  They care so much about their positions and wanting people to like them that they do not want to acknowledge the truth.  We must not let what other people think of us that we would shy away from the truth.  We must recognize that Jesus is the Son of God and has authority over all things.  Pray for boldness and that you would be able to claim to be a follower of Christ no matter who is asking.


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Jesus Arrives at Jerusalem!  (Luke 19:28-44)

32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38   “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”  (Luke 19:32-44)

Learn it:

            Jesus has finally arrived at Jerusalem but the way he did it is different then from how his followers imagined it.  Jesus had been trying to tell them that he was going to be rejected and that he would die.  Yet his followers were expecting their Messiah was going to be a powerful political leader.  They thought this kingdom Jesus was talking about was going to remove the bad religious leaders and Israel would become a powerful nation again.  The Psalm they start singing in verse 38 is about this future king that was going to reign.  This is what the people were expecting.

            Yet when we see how Jesus came in, he was riding a donkey.  A donkey is a symbol of humility.  If Jesus was going to be a powerful ruler he would have ridden in on a horse.  When he also got close to the city he begins to weep.  This would have been confusing for the disciples!  This is the triumphal entry why would he be sad?  He is sad because he wants all of Israel to recognize who Jesus is, but they are going to reject him.  Then there will be a judgement on them.  We see part of this judgement come around 70AD when Rome invades and destroys the temple. 
That is why Jesus is sad.     

Live it:

            Jesus came as a humble servant knowing not everyone was going to accept him.  We should live our lives in a similar way, humbly serving those around us.  Whether it’s our neighbors, family members, friends, or strangers we should treat everyone equally.  Not everyone is going to put their faith in Christ the first time we interact with them.  Jesus ran into the same problem!  He gave us free will to choose to believe him or not.  Even though people rejected him he still did his job of telling people about the gospel.  We should not let the fact that people will reject the gospel discourage us from even trying.  We must be faithful with what Christ has commanded us to do.


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Pastor’s Corner