Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Notes For Sunday Message; Fourth Sunday in Lent; “Give unto Caesar what is Caesars and give unto God what is God’s…”

This Sunday we will continue our journey to the foot of the Cross as we look at some Jesus’ teachings on Tuesday of the last week of His Life.

This week’s Scriptures are: 1 Corinthians 10:23-33; Luke 20:20-26

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV2010 // CEB

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Today’s Gospel reading illustrates our human tendency to compare apples and oranges, to compare things that have no business being compared and then making decisions on these comparisons.

We love to dislike Pharisees; that is why it so tempting to offer the easiest interpretation of today’s Gospel reading that there is – the Pharisees who are “bad” want to trap Jesus who is “good.” Jesus is too smart for the Pharisees and Jesus catches them in their own schemes and games. People laugh at the Pharisees, everybody goes home happy.

I wish it was that simple. But it is not. So let’s unpack today’s reading.

We live in a changing world. Jesus’ contemporaries in Palestine were struggling with Roman rule. Romans were pagan; Romans were also respectful of other people religious beliefs. Many Roman were sympathizers with Judaism because from their perspective adding another powerful god to their pantheon was a good thing. They wanted to worship the Jewish God and they wanted the Jewish God on their side {we see illustration of that in the story of the centurion with sick servant “he helped to build our synagogue” (Luke 7)}.

As you can imagine, Jews were not eager to reciprocate. From a Jewish point of view, the Romans were welcome to convert to Judaism and leave their own traditions and pantheon of gods/idols behind. Romans viewed that as intolerant and narrow-minded.

When Jesus was asked whether it was lawful to pay Roman taxes, the real question was, “Jesus, we don’t like these pagans in our back yard. Are you on our side Jesus? Tell us to go fight them and give us REALLY GOOD SEATS to watch God smite these pagans…”

Since the time of Christ, the Roman Empire fell just like the Persian and Assyrian empires before them, and the many empires that have risen and declined since then.

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People still struggle with difficult questions of faith today, just like they struggled at the time of Jesus. Faith informs our decisions and our actions. We still compare apples and oranges; we still compare things that should not be compared; the journey of faith is about learning to keep the first things first.

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, Give to God what is God’s…” Jesus

Paul said something similar when he wrote:

1 Corinthians 10:23-26, 31-33 (NIV2010)

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

31 So … whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Micah said it like this in the book of Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

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{Transition to THE BRICK}

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