Luke 20:19-26 Jesus is the Son of Man Who do you belong to?

Luke 20:19-26

Jesus is the Son of Man

Who do you belong to?

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 20. Of course, as I often say, if you do not have a Bible, or do not own a Bible, please see me after the service and we will work to get one into your hands.

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we are getting close to the end, we are in the last week of Jesus life. And as we are closing in on the end, we are seeing that the battles, the challenges between Jesus and the spiritual, religious leaders of the day are getting more and more ferocious.

Just in chapter 20, so far, we have seen the scribes, elders, and pharisees question whether Jesus has any authority to be speaking in the temple, let alone doing and saying the things that he is. Jesus comes back at them and shows that they are cowards in their answers and tells them a parable about them. He tells them that they are terrible landlords of the Gods resources, that they are going to be evicted and destroyed and the kingdom will be given to others, namely, those who believe in faith.

In their conflicts, Jesus’ message and mission are clear. You have no inherent rights to the Kingdom of God. You are only a citizen of the Kingdom, only a child of God if He wills it. IT is only by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, his Son.

There is no gray area in this conflict. You are in or you are out. You are dead in your sin, or you are alive in Christ. Jesus has been clear that those who reject the Son, who reject what God has said, and who he has sent will not be a part of the Kingdom of God.

And that’s where we will pick up with todays passage. We will be reading Luke chapter 20, verses 19-26. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version though I encourage you to grab whichever is your preferred translation and follow along. For those who do not have their Bible, we will put the text up on the screen.

Luke 20:19-26, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the following:


The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. 20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality,[d] but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius.[e] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.



May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.



So, we see in scripture that the Pharisees and them didn’t like that Jesus told them they were going to hell. Understandably, they were mad at that. The problem is how they reacted, where their focus was.

Instead of looking within themselves and looking at the criticism levied at them to see if there was any validity to what Jesus was saying, instead of doing that, they ignored it and wanted to violently, physically lash out and get back at Jesus. The only thing that was stopping them is what we also saw in the verses 1-8, and that was their fear of retribution from the people.

And we know that how we respond to criticism is important. IF someone criticizes you, there may be no validity to it. That’s certainly possible. They may just say those things because they don’t like you, are jealous of you, were hurt by you, there are so many reasons. But we have a personal responsibility, regardless of the motivation of why it was said, to search ourselves and see if there is any validity to what is said.

Now, the scribes, elders, the Pharisees and all the rest of the spiritual leaders, they knew that they couldn’t move against Jesus directly. They knew the people were watching. They knew that they held no authority to do what they wanted to do to Jesus.

But they also knew that they were in Jerusalem and there was a lot of Roman authority around. The Romans had the authority to deal with Jesus. But up to this point they had no reason to deal with Jesus. SO, Jesus’ enemies devised a plan.

They sent fake spies, people pretending to be sincere, pretending to be followers of Christ. And these spies were looking, waiting, searching for just the right opportunity. They were waiting, listening for Jesus to do or say something that they could use against him under Roman law.

One of the things we see here, is there is a big difference in listening with discernment, listening and searching scriptures, with the intent to make sure that what you are hearing is correct. There is a big difference in listening with discernment and listening with a critical spirit, with a critical heart. Trying to find wrong in something, whether it is there or not.

I know that I can be guilty of this in a specific way. When I listen to other pastors, specifically ones that I know are wrong on some things or have been wrong in the past, on specific things or issues, I can often listen with a critical spirit, and even if they are speaking about something completely different, I will, at times not give any benefit of the doubt and I can listen to hear what they get wrong instead of just not listening. If I know they are wrong on certain things, the better move would be to not listen at all. If I am going to listen, I need to listen with a discerning heart, but have to be careful not to listen with a critical heart.

Now, Jesus wasn’t giving these spies anything to work with, so they decide to take matters into their own hands, and they come at Jesus. They start with flowery flattery. Fake compliments. The other end of the spectrum, same sin as Gossip. They tell him things that are actually true, but they don’t mean them. You teach and preach rightly. You don’t play favorites. You know what you are talking about.

And then they ask him a question. This is intended to be a gotcha question. This was directly reminiscent of Jesus asking them if John’s baptism was of God or of Man? A wrong answer no matter what he answers.

Paraphrasing the question, So, Jesus, Is taxation theft? Are you loyal to God above Rome? Are you willing to speak against the Roman occupation?

Or are you a government stooge? Are you one who compromises your faith to be in the good graces of the government? Are you loyal to these unjust tyrants above your people, your family, your God?


That’s the gist of their question, the loaded meaning behind the seemingly simple, is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar?

Ha! Gotcha!


So, why was this such a divisive question? The Roman occupation of Israel was paid for, in part, by the taxes that were paid by Israel to Rome. This is why the tax collectors were so hated at that time. These taxes that Rome had levied against were a big point of contention for the Jewish people.

When Jesus was a young kid, there was a violent uprising because of taxes and the Roman military came down hard, crucifying people along the main road stretching for miles. Ultimately, this is what also led to tempers boiling over in 70 A.D. leading to Rome coming against Jerusalem, laying siege to the city and completely destroying the temple, not leaving one block on top of another. All events that Jesus prophesied about on numerous occasions.

And so, by trying to ask Jesus if he supports the taxes, they are trying to make it look like Jesus supports the Roman occupation. Remember part of what made Jesus so popular with the people is that many were expecting him to militarily liberate them from Rome. So, he would lose a lot of his popularity if he publicly sided with Rome.

On the other hand, if he comes out and says he doesn’t not support paying the taxes, then he is basically supporting insurrection and rebellion against Rome. And while they didn’t tend to get involved in religious dealings, they were very quick to squash those who would take action against Rome or lead others to take action against Rome. If Jesus supported insurrection, rebellion and whatnot, Rome would arrest him and punish him.

And so, it would seem that the scribes, elders, pharisees had Jesus caught between a rock and a hard place.

But verse 23 shows us that Jesus was way smarter than them and knew what they were trying to do. He perceived their craftiness. Yup, crafty, just like the serpent in the garden. That wording is not incidental. That’s a testament to which side these guys are on as they try to trick & catch Jesus.

So, Jesus says, show me a denarius. He was specific about what coin, partly because that was the specific coin that was to be used to pay the tax. Also, these guys who were trying to trick Jesus in regard to paying the taxes, now showed that they had one of those coins on them in order to pay the tax. Slightly awkward.

He holds up the coin and asks, whose image is one this coin? Who produced it? Who has the rights to it? Whose image is one this coin?

You can almost hear the hesitation in the answer, like they are thinking, where is he going with this? But they answer because its obvious.



So, Jesus says simply, it belongs to Caesar, give it to him…

And Give to God what is Gods…


Now, few things to note and some caveats and what not…

First, yes. Even all that belongs to Caesar ultimately belongs to God. Jesus isn’t trying to say otherwise, nor should we try to get technical and try to get out of following Jesus’ intent by dismissing Caesar because even he and his things belong to God. Jesus never intended for that to be a loophole we can use.

Scripture makes it clear in numerous places that Governments and their power and authority are legitimate. God gave Government its authority and its power and it is legitimate.

A couple of passages in scripture real quick.

Romans 13:1-7, Paul writes:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.


Next, Peter writes, 1 Peter 2:13-17:


Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,[b] whether it be to the emperor[c] as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants[d] of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.


And so, it is our God given responsibility to obey and submit to the government that God has placed us under. We saw back in the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 2 verse 1, that Joseph and Mary obey the government when traveling to Bethlehem for the census that was ordered by the Roman government for tax purposes.

And yes, the same Peter who wrote that it is for the LORDS sake that we submit top the government is the same Peter who, in Acts, tells us that we are to obey Gods laws above Mans laws. So yes, there are limits and exceptions. However, those limits and exceptions are not simply because we don’t like what they say. We don’t get to pick and chose which laws we obey. We don’t get to not pay taxes because we don’t like how they are used. That’s unbiblical and its sin.

Richard Halverson, a former chaplain of the United States Senate said this:


TO be sure, men will abuse and misuse the institution of the State just as men because of sin have abused and misused every other institution in history including the Church of Jesus Christ; but this does not mean that the institution is bad or that it should be forsaken. It simply means that men are sinners and rebels in Gods world, and this is the way they behave with good institutions. As a matter of fact, it is because of this very sin that there must be a human government to maintain order in history until the ultimate and final rule of Jesus Christ is established. Human government is better than anarchy and the Christian must recognize the ‘divine right” of the State.


          And some of us don’t like to hear that. Some of us want to reject that out of hand. But the truth is that we can’t argue with scripture. Gods inerrant Word. We have to, for now, live in and submit to both worlds. And the truth is that rendering unto Caesar is one of the ways that we render unto God. Again, Peter passage I read a moment ago, it is for the LORDS sake that we submit to the government.

But even bigger than that, not instead of that, not in place of that, but bigger than that is Jesus main point. Whose image was in the coin? Caesars. So, it belongs to Caesar. Give it to him.

Give to God what belongs to God. What belongs to God. The passage Mike read earlier this morning, Genesis 1:26-31 shows that God created man, male and female, God created us in his image. His image is stamped on each and every one of us.

So, look in the mirror. Look at your spouse, look at your friends. Look at that person who interrupted you, that person who gossiped about you. Look at that person who yelled at you, who cheated you who sinned against you in any way. Look at those who have sinned against your friends or family. Look at your enemies, your hated ones. Look at the worst human you can think of. Look at some of the Caesars.


All created in Gods image. All are image bearers of God. All are stamped with His image.

When we think about that, when we remember that they are all made in Gods image, we need to remember to treat every person as an image bearer of God. This is different of course from being a child of God, which is only through Gods grace through faith in Christ.

But that’s an aside, not the main point of this specific passage that Jesus is making. You are an image bearer of God. You are made in his image. His face is stamped on you. You belong to Him.

Very much like a coin in our pockets will get dirt, lint and so on all over and obscure the image on the coin and can make it unrecognizable, so too can and will sin make Gods image on us dirty and obscured and, possibly sometimes unrecognizable. But his image will not wear off and cannot be removed.

And so, Gove to God what is Gods. Give him your life. Give him yourself. Give him everything and every part of you.

This passage ends with those who asked Jesus the Gotcha question unable to say Gotcha! Instead, they were stunned into silence. And we would like to think that some were probably thinking, Wow, he’s right! I never thought about it like that.

But realistically, we know that many were instead mad because he found a way out of their trap.

His ways are infinitely better than out own. His wisdom is infinitely greater than our own. He perceives our craftiness, and he knows the ins and outs of how we think, selfishly, & sinfully.

So, whose are you? The truth is that all who are born, all who are created, yourself included, belong to God. You are stamped in his image. If you give yourself to him, trust in his Son, believe on him, then you are sealed with the Holy Spirit and become a child of God, adopted into his family and a co heir with Christ to the heavenly Kingdom.


We give to this world what belongs to the world. We obey and submit to the leaders God has sovereignly put over us. We pray for those same leaders. We pray for the good of the city in which we are exiles. We are to live quiet, hard-working lives. We are to do good, pursue justice, love mercy.  We are to earn our keep and to be fruitful. We are to flee immorality and to obey the laws of the land.

But in addition to that, we are to give to God what is Gods.

We are to repent and believe the Gospel. We are to trust in the Son, Jesus Christ. We are to worship, adore and praise only God. We are to flee immorality and to flee the devil. We are to be Holy as our Father in Heaven is Holy. We are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. We are to live as strangers and aliens, as exiles in a land not our own. We are to pray without ceasing and to rejoice in all things. We are to look up at Him, trust in Him and his word and do it all for His Glory.

I’m going to leave you with a quote form RC Sproul regarding the principle that Christians have to deal with regarding obedience to authorities. He says:

The principal is very simple but applying it can be excruciatingly difficult. The principal is that we must always, in every circumstance, obey the civil magistrates unless they command us to do what God forbids or they forbid us to do what God commands.

Let’s Pray.

Romans 12:14-21 Good is Greater than Evil

Romans 12:14-21

Good Is Greater Than Evil

Good morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Romans chapter 12.

We will be also spending quite a bit of time in Matthew chapter 5, if you want to put your finger there as a bookmark

Now, as usual, if you do not have a Bible, or if you do not own a Bible, please take one-off the back table as our gift to you.

Now, we have been going line by line, verse by verse through Paul’s letter to the early churches in Rome, and, believe it or not, we are over ¾ of the way through it. I think we can all agree that Paul has had some hard truths to share with that church, some hard truths for us today to hear as well.

And I don’t know about you, but I tend to respond one of two ways when I hear something like that. Of the two, hopefully I respond with the first I will share with you. I hear it, I don’t want to hear it, so I reject it. Or I justify why I’m not doing it, or I lash out at it, claiming its wrong. But in the end, I knows it’s the truth and hopefully I make any changes that need to be made.

But there’s another way that I might react, a way that occurs much to often. A way that I think is much more in line with, unfortunately, how the typical American churchgoers responds. You hear the truth, you affirm your belief that this is, in fact the truth, and you continue on in life with no change, no adhering to that truth, and no acknowledgment that you are not adhering to the truth.

As we move into the section of scripture we are going to read this morning, I ask that you look inside yourself and don’t respond with the second one I mentioned. This passage, I think, requires a lot of introspection and soul-searching. Because this is one of the passages that directs us the most against what our natural human sinful instincts are. It is some of, if not the hardest commands tat are found in the New Testament, commands we are required, as followers of Christ to follow.

So, with your curiosities piqued, let’s go ahead and read this weeks passage. Paul is writing in Romans chapter 12, and we will read verses 14-21. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your Bibles.

Romans 12:14-21, Paul writes:

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Well, that’s super easy to follow, right? One of the first things that is interesting to me when I read this passage is that it sounds so much like Jesus. Paul is borrowing heavily from Jesus teachings in this passage. Now, to be sure, all of Paul’s words that we have in scripture are inspired and inerrant. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and as we see in John 1, Jesus is the Word. So all the words that Paul has written in scripture are the words of Jesus.

But Paul will be the first to mention at times, that during Jesus physical, earthly ministry, we don’t have a record of him having addressed everything that we would want him to, or everything that the other New Testament writers make mention of.

But this passage here is heavily influenced by Jesus words during his earthly ministry, namely the Sermon on the Mount. The first couple of verses that Paul writes here, for example, sound an awful like an abbreviated version of the Beatitudes. Jesus speaks in Matthew 5:3-12:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Paul starts by saying, Bless those who persecute you. Jesus made it clear, that if we follow him, we will face opposition, we will face hate and we will face persecution. And the natural way of responding to that is to fight back. To treat those who are persecuting us as evil. To use the same standard in who we act towards them as they use in how they treat us.

But we are not called to the same standard. I said this recently as well. To clarify, the standard by which God will judge us is the same across the board, for each and every single human being. God’s holiness is the standard by which we will be judged. But the World has one standard of behaviour, one standard of right and wrong, one standard of morality, and the Bible has another standard. Our responsibility is to strive to live up to the bibles standard.

And so, we do not answer persecution with persecution, but instead, we bless those who persecute us. We treat them better than they treat us. Dr Martin Luther JR has a famous saying, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” (

And so, we are to bless, to love, to think of others as higher than ourselves and we respond to their mistreatment of us. Ah, but we are Americans and Americans have rights. Its my right to retaliate, its my right to fight back. Its my right! Oswald Chambers summarizes one key aspect of the Christian life. He says, The only right a Christian has is the right to give up his rights.

Wow. Thats hard to hear. Thats even harder to do. Now, I am tempted to put in some qualifiers here. Well, except for this situation, or except for this person. And some of those qualifiers may even exist, if you think so, we can talk later. But, as I was preparing to do that, I realized that Paul doesn’t put any qualifiers on that statement. And I reread the Beatitudes, and Jesus doesn’t put any qualifiers on his statements. And so, were I to put any qualifiers on this, I would be taking away from the words of Paul and Jesus.

So, no qualifiers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. We take to scripture and we look at the examples of Jesus as the Sanhedrin, as Herod and as Pilate put him on trial and sentenced him to death. Jesus had a lot of right sin that situation. Those were not, strictly speaking, legal trials. Jesus could have pointed that out, could have defended himself in the trials, refuted the charges. And yet, he didnt. He gave up his rights in that situation. Even more of an example, Jesus gave up his divine rights, as God, when he came down, born as a human baby.

Paul as well, often set aside his rights when, after his conversion by Jesus, he himself was being persecuted by the Romans and Jews. Pauls was often preaching the Gospel to the guards and Jailers, to the judges, to the governors and rulers who were to decide on his fate. But he set aside actual legal defenses to serve what ever punishment would be put in front of him.

Peter and john do the same thing in Acts chapter 4. They were submitting to the punishment of the council they were brought before. Now, this is an important distinction. This is an important part as we move forward and more and more about biblical actions and biblical beliefs become, not only frowned upon, not only unpopular, but as certain things will become illegal.

Peter and John set aside some of their rights, and they submit themselves to the punishment, but they also are very clear that they will continue to do what God told them to do, to speak on what they have seen. (Acts 4:13-22) We are actually going to look more at things like that in the next section of scripture.

But, instead of being a curse to those who persecute us, we are to be blessings. Peter writes, in 1 Peter 3:9: Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

In a way, Peters verse there helps draw what Paul said and what Jesus said even closer together. And, I think, the biggest aspect of this, the biggest motivation for doing blessing those who persecute you is because our reward is not of this world, but is in the next. Our blessing, our reward is in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus even blesses Paul, who he confronted for persecuting him. Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 9) And Jesus then brings Paul into clear knowledge that Jesus was exactly who the early church was claiming him to be, The Son of God, the Forgiver of Sins, the Messiah and Savior. The ultimate blessing.

Paul says next that we are to have sympathy, empathy and compassion.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. We are to share in each others victories. We encourage others to do and be better. We celebrate the wins in their lives. We take pleasure in their highs and build each other up. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 12:26, of the body of Christ, If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Right now, we all are grieving with Cindy and Randy and their family as we mourn OUR loss, as Gerri is now at home, at peace, fully healthy with Jesus. We grieve as a family. They know they are not alone, but that we are here with them. The same happens on the other end of the spectrum.

Hope and I feel from you all, our church family, the rejoicing in upcoming birth of Malachi. When one of us suffers, we all suffer together. One one of us rejoices, we all rejoice together.

Jesus, again, if we read the Beatitudes, we see he says two things, both, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. And he also says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

And so, if you are morning, if you are suffering, if you are struggling, Jesus says, that followers of christ will be comforted. Jesus is our comforter. And he tells us followers to follow his lead as comforters. Comforter those who mourn. And those who are merciful, those who comfort, those who have empathy, sympathy, and compassion will receive mercy.

Here’s how this happens. The things that Paul is talking about, the things that he is saying should be evident in a Christians life, are not our natural, instinctual normal abilities and nature.

And so it takes the change of heart, mind and soul that comes by grace alone through faith alone in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Christ is the one and only who can change our bondage to sin, who can break our sin nature and the Holy Spirit comes in and changes our heart of stone into a heart of flesh. It is the continual work of sanctification in us that allows us to reject what the world, and what our nature is telling us and it grows in us a new nature that helps us to set aside our rights, to bless those who persecute us, to rejoice with those who rejoice, no matter what we think of them, and to mourn with those who mourn, no matter what we think. It is what allows us to do the rest of what we are going to look at this morning, because we can’t and wont do it on our own, but only through the strength and love of Jesus Christ.

And Paul tells us, in verse 16, Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. This harkens back to what Paul said in this very same chapter, in verse 3, For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,

Conflict comes when we each think of ourselves as better, or more important or having a higher status than each other, than those around us. When many of us have that conceit, we clash, because only we can be right. But when we think of ourselves as better than us, when we are not haughty, then we know that others can be right too, that others can have other lives, opinions, and gifts. They can do things differently than we do. And that s ok. They are not automatically trying to be better than or more important than us. Where there would otherwise be conflict and anger, now, we can let it slide. Love covers a multitude of sin. (1 Peter 4:8)

RC Sproul says that “One manifestation of this will be an absence of conceit and pride in worldly position.” I think of the letter that James wrote. Much of it deals with not treating people different ly because of perceived status or wealth. Not to treat some as better than others. And not to exclude or assume, not to look down on others because of anything.

That includes how they treat us. Verses 17-21, Paul tells us,  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In Essence, this is how we react as Christians, to a non-Christian world. We don’t respond to others the same we they respond to us. We dont repay evil with evil, but we overcome evil with good.

Again, looking back at Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:38-48:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[h] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Paul is simplifying and summarizing what Jesus said, so to truly understand wha the passage is telling us, we need to dig into what Jesus said, so that’s where the main focus of the rest of the sermon will be.

Right off the bat, Jesus acknowledges that a common saying that the Jews had heard was from the Torah, from the Old Testament Scriptures. Most of our Bibles will have the references there, showing Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20 & Deuteronomy 19:21 as where this statement is made.

But instead of looking at the context and the true meaning, The Jews made this a literal statement about karma. What you do to me, I’ll do right back to you. It reminds of a quote from a TV show, if any of you have seen Firefly, where the Captain of the ship tells the stowaway, “If someone tries to kill you, you kill them right back.”

That sounds real good doesn’t it? That sounds fair, that sounds like justice will be done. But here’s the problem. This line of thinking, this interpretation makes our behavior, our morals and our ethics very situational. It means that we can justify whatever behavior we want because the other person or other side did something first. It’s the theological version of the playground argument, “He started it!”

We see this every day in our own lives, but we don’t want to recognize it there. We see it every day in politics. Both sides. How often do we see someone taken to task for something stupid, something wrong or something evil. That persons party comes to their defense, not arguing what they did was right, but that the others side’s guy did the same thing, or something similar and the other side wasn’t bothered by it then. And while we do see the hypocrisy there on the other side, we don’t see our own hypocrisy of we had an issue with it when the other sides person did, but we don’t have an issue when our guy does it. Our behavior and our ethics and morals change based on whether it suits us or not.

And Jesus is going to point out that is missing the original point of the text and the whole of what God has taught us by a long mile. The original intent of the text is not individual retaliation, not modes of procedure in person to person conflict. Its not for if Me and one of you have an issue. But instead, if you go read those original verses in context, its about the civil justice system, administered by the government or leadership of the community or country. And the point of that text, quite simply is that the punishment should fit the crime. This is a mandate to not have excessive penalties for crimes committed or for personal retribution to pay a role in the punishment being administered.

RC Sproul writes, “Jesus opposition to the misuse of this verse involved, not the abrogation of the principle of equivalence, but a call to temper it’s application in light of the love commandment, in the interests of the Kingdom, and in the knowledge of Gods coming wrath.”

Each time this phrasing happens in the Old Testament, it is used in a legal context. It is used for the justice system and we need to remember that. We are not to seek personal retribution in place of or on top of what the legal system will bring. And, within the legal system, we are not to promote, or to enact different penalties for different groups of people; this means different social classes, this means different races and this means different nationalities, just to name a few that we see happen in today’s world. We are imperfect people, running imperfect social systems and giving imperfect justice.

God is a perfect God and he gives perfect justice. Scripture says that is we see injustices happen, first, we try to right them, but second, we rest in the knowledge that His perfect justice, will be administered, in his time. Thats what Paul is saying here.

 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Jesus goes on to give a couple examples that the people of those days would have clearly understood but may need a bit of context thrown in. To start, Jesus acknowledges that people with power will not always be fair to you. And there will always be someone with more power than you. They will unfairly exert power over you. At the time, Roman soldiers could come and grab, basically anyone they wanted and tell them to carry their gear, and the like for a mile so the soldier didn’t have to wear himself out doing it. We know that in the American Colonies, British soldiers could make any one give them quarter, house them for a time and feed them, just by showing up. That’s why we have our 3rd Amendment in the Bill of rights, was to prevent these abuses of power.

But, even in those situations, where you do have to go along with what someone says, say at work, is unfairly divvying up the assignments, or at school, if the teacher is giving you more work than the others, Jesus says there is still a way you can respond, that is obeying when you need to obey, but also takes away the power of the person ordering you around. Gladly do more. Go above and beyond.

People with power or influence, whether or not they are trying to use it wrong, but especially if they are, they can make you follow an order, especially if its not you doing something against Gods laws, but they can never make you do just enough. They can never prevent you from going above and beyond. It not only kills them with love and kindness but it takes the power out of their hands as well, and shows your strength and your freedom.

Then Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

So, a couple of immediate things on this statement. First, While some of the things that Jesus is telling them that they heard wrong are misunderstandings of things found in scriptures, this is one where this statement is not found in scripture. Nor, if read in context, is anything that can be misconstrued as that.

But it was. It was a misunderstanding, possibly purposefully, at least at first, of who is my neighbor. The Jewish people thought that it was only those in the Abrahamic covenant, circumcised Jews. The ones who had the most open view, thought that it pertained to all of Israel, but no further. It was a very limited view. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but Jesus makes it quite clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan that our definition of neighbor is not to be limited.

But it sounds so inviting, doesn’t it? Love your neighbor, but hate your enemy. It just makes sense. It’s easy to see, to feel and to understand. It’s what we all want to do. There is nothing else that makes sense to do except hate your enemies. Its hard enough sometimes to love those close to us. Why should we have to do it to those that hate us, fear us, sin against us, those that don’t love us? We deserve to be able to hate those people. And we limit our definition of neighbor is limited because its easier to live life with a limited definition. It limits who we have to love.

Jesus says NO. We don’t get to take the easy way out. We don’t get to live the easy life, our best life now. We don’t get to hate our enemies. We don’t get to just feel animosity to those who hate us. But we are to love our enemies. Whether or not they love us. And we are to pray for those who persecute us. That’s the definition of the hard way. That is Jesus raising the bar well above, both what we thought it was and what we are comfortable living.

What’s interesting is that Jesus uses a little bit of continuity here when we tells us why we are to live by this higher standard. He says so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. Now, remember back to the Beatitudes. Remember the 7th one? Verse 9, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

This is not optional, this is a necessary result of being called a child of God. And if we are saved, if we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our LORD, as our Savior, if we have been transformed by the Holy Spirit, then we are told that we need to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Again, that’s Paul’s big point here in this section of Romans, that these are signs and evidences of our salvation.

But, again, we don’t get to take the easy road. Jesus continues on by making sure that we understand that he is raising the bar. He wants us to have no mistake that we are expected to be better, to live up to a higher standard. He says its easy to love those who love us. Everyone does that.

Jesus picks maybe the two groups of people who the Jews had the lowest opinion of. Tax Collectors, Jewish people who have turned on their people, went to work for the Romans to raise money for the Roman Army to continue to occupy and oppress the Jewish people. They were not well liked. And then also the Gentiles. Those who were not a part of the covenant Jewish people. Those who did not know God.

Jesus picked those two groups and said that if all you do is love those who love you and hate those who hate you, you are no better than those who you have such a poor opinion of. Your no better than those who you look down on.

He has raised the bar. The standard that God has is perfection. What the scriptures do, what Jesus does, what we are to do is to show, both, the impossible standard that is to live up to, and the wholly undeserved grace that is poured out on all who believe and follow Christ.

And how we treat others is one of the ways that we show that. We show the love of Christ by the way we love others. The parallel, the correlation is clear. The way we treat others is not dependent on how they treat us. Just as, the way that God treats us, the love that he shows us, the grace he pours out in us is not dependent on how we treat him. Because if it were, we would all be in hell. Not destined for hell, but upon our first sin, we would be immediately sent there. We are in constant rebellion against Gods sovereign reign over his creation. God says, I love you anyway, here is grace.

The choice we have to make is whether we settle for common grace, and often if we choose this, we will raise the things that God has graced us with, we will raise them up as idols. We can settle for common grace or we can accept his true loving, sacrificial saving grace. And when we choose that path, Gods saving grace, we need to remember that it was while we were unlovable, while we were yet sinners, that Christ dies for us.

Lets Pray


It has happened.

I am now answering to the title of “Pastor.” Combine this with having my first sermon marked on the calender (Jan. 12th) and my daily duties at the church, reality has hit and my life has changed forever, and my families lives as well.  Normally, I would be freaking out, having major doubts, or looking for any reason to question this momentous change.

And yet…. nothing.

Instead, there is a firm confirmation in my mind and in my spirit that this is exactly what I was meant to do.

God really has made me a Pastor…

There’s a mix of the funniest joke ever and the biggest life change miracle in that statement. I would never had guessed that God would be using me for his Kingdom in this way.

And in this, I am seeing how God built a strong foundation in my life. Its a foundation of knowledge, studying His Word, prayer, talking through doubts and questions along the way, listening when he speaks. I am seeing  how he chooses to open and close doors in our lives as he guides us. I am seeing the importance of others in our plans. I am seeing how encouragement, prayer and financial support, guidance and advice have a major impact on what we personally do, even if they have no idea at the time.

The sheer amount of time it can take to build these foundations is amazing. Yes, God can and does work very quickly in many peoples lives. But in my life, He only seems to move quickly after he has spent a long time working on me, building that foundation and He has prepared me for the next steps. Im already on my toes, so to speak.

Now, as a Pastor, interacting with others in the church daily, I am excited to teach, encourage, and help in any way I can others around me so that they can build their foundations of faith and plans for the future. I am also reminded that I need to continue to keep even closer to Jesus and his plan for me.  I need to do this to keep me from wandering form my path and thereby impacting others in a negative way.  It also highlights grace and forgiveness, both my need for them and the importance of sharing them with others.

As we get to the end of this this year and get ready to start a new one, with plans and “resolutions” of improving and changing, I ;ray that we all look at the foundations that are currently in our lives and which foundations need to be replaced, and which foundations we are placing our hopes and dreams in. I pray that we look at who we are allowing to help build our foundations.

I want to encourage us all  help build up others and help lay their foundations. We never know what tiny stone we add to that persons foundation can play an integral part. Many of you don’t know how much your stones have help my foundation.

Thank you, God Bless and Happy New Year



Matthew 16:13-20