Memphis Belle

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Verse 12, Due to the hardness of their hearts the vine-dressers before Jesus, these religious leaders respond to his parable. The way they respond is that they’re provoked to anger. That’s their hearts, man. A hard heart is when you don’t get things your way and you get angry, and they just get angry. In fact, Luke tells us that they seek to lay hold of Jesus at that very hour. But they’re unable to because of his popularity at that moment. They certainly don’t know what it means to be longsuffering because they are just teed-off with Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 13, thinking about the love of God again, 1 Corinthians 13 says that love is not easily provoked. And you know, God is looking for fruit in these people’s lives. And obviously you see by reading these Scriptures they didn’t have it at all, because love is not easily provoked. And these guys are just teed-off and trying to get a hold of Jesus. And also we know in 1 Corinthians 13 that love does not behave rudely. And of course they’re pretty rude in their behavior here, they’re trying to take hold of him. But that’s what God desires to see in your life. You know if you read this and you consider these guys, in some cases we can see some of us in these guys, you know. You know, you just press me to a point, I get provoked, I get angry, I fly off the handle. That’s not the love that God desires, that’s not the fruit that he desires to see in your life. Or you just behave rudely, you know. If there’s anyone you’ve behaved rudely with I encourage you to go and repent and ask for their forgiveness. Because, man, love does not behave rudely, just doesn’t. God wants to see love in your life.

Verses 13-17, “Then they sent to him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to catch him in his words. When they had come they said to him, ‘Teacher, we know that you are true and care about no one, for you do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God and truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Shall we pay or shall we not pay?’ But he, knowing their hypocrisy said to them, ‘Why do you test me? Bring me a dinarius that I may see it.’ So they brought it and he said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ and they said to him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they marvelled at him.” I wonder if some of these guys came to Christ maybe later and reflect back to this time, trying to trap Jesus. But the Herodians and the Pharisees have joined together. Before this, they weren’t the best of friends, these two groups. But you know, enemies will join together for a common cause, and these guys have. And now they’ve really thought this one through, they’ve got Jesus there in Jerusalem, and if they can get him to in some way say something against the Roman government, well they can go to Pilate and the Romans will take care of him. But if they get him, if they can get him to say something that maybe would anger the people-maybe paying homage to the Roman authorities. And the Jewish people obviously didn’t like the Romans. So if he can say something that maybe would make the people angry, then they’ve got some grounds again to get hold of him. Well, Jesus, you can never trap him. He takes care if it pretty clearly, and they say ‘Listen’, they say, ‘you know, is it right to pay the poll tax, is it right for us to go and pay taxes to Caesar, a Jewish man? You know, you’re a guy who doesn’t really pay respect to anybody, and you kind of do what you want to do, and seem to just teach the way of God.’ And of course they’re hypocrites in what they’re saying, they don’t really believe this anyway, trying to set him up, butter him up so he’ll respond in a certain way. But he says, ‘Hey man, give me a coin. What’s on this coin? You see Caesar, the picture of Caesar? Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But give to God what is God’s.’ Clearly we read in the Bible God’s instituted a government, he’s instituted the government and we read, and it's hard to even comprehend, but he’s appointed the leaders that we have [this sermon given while Bill Clinton was in office as President of the United States]. And then he says, ‘Pray for them without ceasing.’ He says, ‘Honor the king.’ So he says, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s-that fits into my plan-and give to God what is God’s.’ These few guys that have come, Luke and the other gospels tell us they’ve come like spies, they’ve been sent just to trap. And I think of again, love, you know. Jesus says, you know, ‘You guys, there’s no fruit, so you’re gonna be cursed. You’re like the fig tree.’ And here you just see their thoughts. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 that God’s love thinks no evil, and obviously all they have is evil thoughts. They’ve gotten together conspiring, you know, ‘How can we trap this guy, and how can we even do it dishonestly if we need to?’-bunches, bunches of evil thoughts. Also we read in 1 Corinthians 13 that love does not rejoice in iniquity. Man, they would have been just parading in joy if they could have trapped him here. It says, “Instead, love rejoices in the truth”, and they just don’t rejoice in the truth. They want their own way. We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13 that “Love believes all things”, just trusts. That’s far from their hearts. Now where are you today? Are there some folks that maybe, well you had some evil thoughts against. Maybe somebody’s done something against you and sometimes when that happens thoughts can come into your mind and you can just start thinking things that just are evil, you know. If something bad happened to somebody that you know [that you don’t like], well, you wouldn’t have too much trouble sleeping at night, if you heard the report, ‘Tommy, he got hit by a car, Oh well.’ You know, we can do that in our thoughts, can’t we, people that have just these evil thoughts, rejoicing maybe in iniquity rather than rejoicing in truth and in the love of God. Well, God wants to see in your life, God wants to see in my life, he wants to see fruit. He doesn’t want to see all the other stuff, he wants to see fruit, and the fruit is love. He wants to see love. He wants to see it in your thoughts. He wants to see it in your actions. And that’s what tells it all, that’s the whole picture, man. Are you a Caleb, can you say you obeyed him fully? Had his different Spirit in you? Or are you more like the Israelites, just in your thoughts and in your heart? God wants to see fruit in our life, and it’s love. Who are you more like? Are you at times more like the guys before Jesus? Or are you more like the love that God desires in 1 Corinthians 13?

Here, Jesus, as a side-point, does say this truth about honoring Caesar. And we’re to honor ‘Caesar’, certainly that’s obeying God [cf. Romans 13:1-7, Daniel 4.], except when Caesar gets outside of God’s law. But when we’re told to pay taxes, if it’s 95% of our income, we’re to pay 95% of our income, because that’s not outside of God’s law. Obviously it’s warped if we were to pay that much, but that’s not outside God’s law. We’re to pay taxes. And the laws of the land, if they, if you can’t go to Scripture to find one that says the law is outside of God’s will, you’re to obey the law, whatever it is-in all that you do, that’s obeying God, that’s loving God. Obeying him, that’s loving him with your life.

You know, this marriage thing has come up a lot, over the last number of weeks. I’ve been in a lot of discussions about marriage and what marriage is and what marriage isn’t. Sometimes people think that marriage is really just this agreement between two individuals. You know, if you live together eight or ten years, you’re married, you’re an Adam & Eve basically, you’re married together [common law], you know, you’re spending time together, you love each other, that’s marriage. But God has instituted the government [i.e he’s instituted the physical governments over people in the world, as evil as some of them are-this is a mystery that baffles some, but read Romans 13:1-7 and Daniel chapter 4.] He’s given the laws of the land. Marriage today, the equation of marriage today includes the law, it includes the legal aspect. Marriage today includes that certificate, you’re not married today [except in one state where common law is still on the books]-if you don’t have that certificate today, you’re not married. If you don’t have the state’s approval, you’re not married, because God’s instituted the laws. If the laws get outside of God’s plan then it’s different [i.e. gay or same-sex marriages are outside of God’s plan, for sure]. When today we’re heading down the road where evidently in our state [Massachusetts] not long from now and in other states [Vermont, so far], you know, there’s gonna be this same-sex marriage thing. Well, clearly that’s outside of God’s law. And so therefore the Bible says that’s depravity, that’s not God’s desire at all. So in that case I don’t give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, because it’s outside of what God has desired. But in all the other cases it’s part of God’s will, it’s God’s desire for me to obey Caesar.

Verses 18-23, “And some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and they asked him, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother’s brother dies and leaves his wife behind and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers, the first took a wife and dying he left no offspring. And the 2nd took her and he died, nor did he leave any offspring, and the 3rd likewise. So the seven had her and left no offspring, and last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection when they arise, whose wife will she be, for all seven had her as a wife?’” Now it’s important to understand that the Sadducees do not believe in angels, they do not believe in spirits [demons], they do not believe in the resurrection. They believe that when you die, you die and that’s it. That’s why they’re Sad-You-See, a pretty sad belief to have [Sadd-U-Cee’s, ha, ha]. And, they’re trying to trap Jesus, they’re trying to trap him in this little riddle. But also they’re trying to prove a point in front of the Pharisees, because the Pharisees and them debated. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection, the Sadducees didn’t. So they’ve got a clever way here to prove a point, make themselves look good, but also trap Jesus. Well, you could only imagine them trying to come up with this, trying to think this one through. “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Are you not therefore mistaken because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God. For when they rise from the dead they do neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels in heaven. But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him saying, ‘I’m the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob?’ He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You’re therefore greatly mistaken’” (Verses 24-27). They only believed in, really, the authority of the Torah, the first [five] books of Moses, so he goes right to the book of Moses to prove that there is a resurrection. He says ‘God said in the burning bush, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ He wouldn’t say that if they were dead, he would say ‘I was the God’, past tense, they’re dead, they don’t exist anymore. He says ‘I am the God, meaning they still exist. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob still were living he says. They were with him, of course. And, so he goes right back to their Law showing them that right in their own Word that they didn’t even know, he said, ‘You guys didn’t even know the Scriptures. You study it, you miss out on the beautiful truth of it. “’And therefore, because you do not know the Word of God, you do not know the power of God.’”-because you’re not walking with God and seeking him in his Word, truly seeking him, just the power of God. And the power of God includes rising, taking folks and rising them up from the dead, he can do that. And he will do that, and in fact he’s gonna do it again in a most beautiful way in just a few days. He’s gonna take a man and pull him right out of the grave, Jesus Christ himself. He says ‘You guys just don’t know the power of God, man. And therefore you’re short-sighted, and man, you’re pretty sad, because, you have such a hopeless faith.’ Love, love we’re told in 1 Corinthians 13, that “love hopes all things.” If there was no resurrection, man, there would be no hope, that’s what Paul said. Paul said [in 1 Corinthians 15-the resurrection chapter] “If Christ is not risen your faith is futile, you’re still in your sins. Then all those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life alone we have hope in Christ we are of all men the most pitiable.” He says, ‘Without the resurrection, without eternal life, it’s just silly to be a Christian.’ But then we read in 1 Corinthians 13 that God’s love includes hope, “it hopes all things”, and of course that tells you and I that we have a great hope, and that’s in a risen life later when we’re gonna be with the Lord. We’re gonna get raised from the dead, man. We’re gonna go in the twinkling of an eye, we’re gonna get new bodies and we’re gonna be right there in the throne room with God and just praise and worship and live like we’ve never even comprehended to a degree what it’s gonna be like. [Click here to see what Paul had to say about the 1st resurrection to immortality .] So because of that, you and I have a great hope, a great hope. Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 15, he says “But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, be immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”-because you have a great hope. God loves you so much, he’s gonna give you eternal life if you’re a Christian here today. You’re gonna spend eternity with him, so you have a great hope. Just to serve, to be steadfast, be immovable. Sometimes, you know, when things get certain ways in our lives, you know, they get kind of crazy, we start to get in despair, and we don’t have a lot of hope. As Christians we got a tremendous hope. No matter how dark it gets outside, no matter if the stock market crashes and America really gets kind of weird, we’ve got a great hope, because of where we’re going, because of the Lord. So therefore we keep serving, we keep loving and praising him. He’s given us eternal life. Our love, the love of God that he’s given to us, will not disappoint us. God is the God of the living, and that’s the greatest hope. [And I might add here for those who are a bit confused, the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6 said in talking about some of the saints who had actually seen Jesus, but were now dead, he said this of those Christians who had died, “…after that, he was seen of above 500 brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto the present, but some are fallen asleep.” In Luke 8:41-42, 49-52-55, Jesus came to the house of Jairus, whose 12-year-old daughter had just died. The crowd gathered around the girl was wailing and weeping (verse 52), but Jesus said, “Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.” She was dead. In verse 54 it says “and he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called saying ‘Maid arise’. And her spirit came again and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.” Now what is the lesson here? Was Jesus lying about the girl being dead? Well, no. To God (and the apostle Paul) we see the dead are just sleeping-why??-because it is God who can “wake up the dead.” In Isaiah 26:19 it says about those (Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, and all who are to be in the resurrection to immortality, “thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for the earth shall cast out the dead.” If you read verses 20-21, you see this is written in context with the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ [cf. Revelation 19] and the resurrection to immortality of the saints [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49-54]. So to the very One who can raise the dead, “awake” the dead, yes, the dead are merely sleeping. To God the dead are not really dead but sleeping. Are you going to argue that point with Jesus, God the Son, or the apostle Paul? I guess you can if you want to. In Acts 2:29 it says, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” In Psalm 16:10 this same patriarch David himself prophecied of his own resurrection when he said, “For thou wilt not leave my soul [Hebrew: Nephesh :flesh, body] in hell [Sheol, the grave]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (read vs. 9-11) David is considered one of the patriarchs, along with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jews say they are dead, even Peter said David was dead and buried “and his grave is with us to this day.” But to God, they’re all asleep, awaiting his wake-up call (Isaiah 26:19; 1 Corinthians 15:6,49-54). So this is what Jesus means when he’s stating that God is the God of the living, and names Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who naturally, to us, are quite dead and buried. But to the God who can “awake the dead” they’re not dead, just sleeping. The Sadducees clearly didn’t understand the power of God here.]

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