This content is part of a series.
NOTE: This sermon is part 15 and 16 of a 40 part devotional series. Two sermons outlines are included in this download.
Fifteenth Day (15 of 40)
Series: Lenten Devotion
‘‘We know that Yahweh your God rules heaven and earth, and we’ve lost our courage and will to fight.’’ Joshua 2:11
We serve the Creator, the All-powerful God, the Ruler of the Universe. We speak of God’s greatness, majesty, and authority. We know there is nothing impossible for God. We sing these claims. We quote Scriptural claims of the same. We offer prayers in recognition of God’s power, yet in times of distress, we too often look elsewhere for words of comfort, hope, and courage.
That is what happened here in the story of Joshua’s spies sent to Jericho. A generation before, Joshua had been one of two spies to report confidence in the victory of Yahweh as the people made their way into the lad promised to Abraham. He had been one of two spies reporting in contrast to the fear and anxiety of ten others who called the nations of the land giants against whom there was no hope. The nation listened to the words of fear, instead of faith. They spent forty years wandering as a result.
Sixteenth Day (16 of 40)
Series: Lenten Devotion
‘‘Then Jesus told them, ‘Give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.’ The men were amazed at Jesus.’’ Mark 12:17
It was the perfect trick question for trapping Jesus, or so they thought. No one likes to pay taxes. No one like the idea of taxes being raised - at least not when it means they will be the ones paying. After all, we are all at least a little bit selfish. We begrudge taxes at any rate of payment. We begrudge fines we incur through our own folly or through willful decisions to break laws or failure to meet obligations. My rights, my money, and my will always seem to come before any obligation to another.
So they asked Jesus whether or not to pay taxes to Cesar, the emperor who demanded tribute as though he and the gods of Rome were more important than the only true God. Doctrine was on their side. This tax was considered tribute. Tribute was an act of homage and worship. It was the declaration of the rights of the gods of Rome who had gained victory over Israel, vanquishing Yahweh in the eyes of the world. The Jews served only one God - the only God. Tribute should never be given to another, since it was an act of worship. Only Yahweh was worthy of that! It was the first of the commandments.