Sunday, 8th August 6.00 pm Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN All my hope on God is founded

1 All my hope on God is founded;

he doth still my trust renew.

Me through change and chance he guideth,

only good and only true.

God unknown, he alone

calls my heart to be his own.

2 Pride of man and earthly glory,

sword and crown betray his trust;

what with care and toil he buildeth,

tow’r and temple, fall to dust.

But God’s pow’r, hour by hour,

is my temple and my tow’r.

3 God’s great goodness aye endureth,

deep his wisdom, passing thought:

splendour, light and life attend him,

beauty springeth out of naught.

Evermore, from his store,

new-born worlds rise and adore.

4 Still from earth to God eternal

sacrifice of praise be done,

high above all praises praising

for the gift of Christ his Son.

Christ doth call one and all:

ye who follow shall not fall.

Joachim Neander (1650-1680) paraphrased Robert Bridges (1844-1930)

PRAYER

READING MATTHEW 22 : 15-33

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

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

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Marriage at the Resurrection

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

SERMON Taxes and Marriage

Paying Taxes to CaesarMatthew 22:15-22

Let us begin by noting who it is who has come to oppose Jesus here. We find an alliance of some kind between the Pharisees and the Herodians. In some ways, it seems an unlikely alliance. The Pharisees were a strict, legalistic, arrogant separatist group. The Herodians, on the other hand, were those who endorsed and supported Roman rule over Israel. The Pharisees would carefully scrutinize our Lord’s remarks in the light of their understanding of the Law of Moses, while the Herodians would listen carefully for any hint of breaking Roman law. It was as though they had Jesus in a vice, or so it seemed.

Let us now consider the motivation of this delegation of Pharisees and Herodians. We know that this is a carefully contrived trap designed to lure Jesus into a statement that will alarm Rome enough to remove Him. Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? (Matthew 22:18)

(1) The question was a legal one, seeking from Jesus an authoritative statement about paying taxes to Caesar, based upon the Old Testament Law. (a reference to the legality of taxation)

(2) The taxes which are in view are a form of tribute paid to Rome, a tribute which acknowledges the legitimacy of Rome’s authority and control, and thus their right to collect taxes from a subject people.

(3) The question is illegitimate because it is unfairly restrictive. It allows only two possible answers, and both are wrong. It is like asking, ‘Have you stopped beating your wife?’

Jesus first points out the hypocrisy of the question and the wicked motivation that prompted it. Jesus asks them to show Him one of the coins used to pay the tax. He did not ask to see just any coin, but the tax coin, the one which would be used to pay taxes to Caesar. They produced such a coin – which would imply that they did pay their taxes. Jesus then asked whose image was on the coin and whose inscription. They replied, ‘Caesar’s.’ ‘What belongs to Caesar you should give back to Caesar; what belongs to God you should give back to God.’ Caesar does not own everything. Ultimately, God does. And so we are to give back to God that which rightly belongs to Him. In general terms, we should give ourselves back to God.

************************************************

One Bride for Seven BrothersMatthew 22:23-33

Yopu may recall the 1952 film starring Howard Keel: “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” – well here we have just ONE bride for seven brothers.

Until now, the Sadducees have not played a very prominent role in Matthew. They were generally part of the wealthy aristocracy. They were anti-supernatural; the power they embraced was more earthly – political clout. The Sadducees were lovers of the Greek culture, and they collaborated with Rome. The Saduccees thought if they could disprove the resurrection of the dead, they could discredit Jesus. Their argument was logical, even if it was fatally flawed.

Citing a text in Deuteronomy concerning levirate marriage (where a man dies and his brother is obliged to marry his widow to preserve the family line) accomplished several things.

First, it was a proof text from the Pentateuch.

Secondly, it established the biblical basis for levirate marriage.

Thirdly, it underscored the importance of preserving a line of physical descendants. Finally, it provided the Sadducees the opportunity to discredit a belief in the afterlife, and thus the resurrection of the dead. Jesus corrected their flawed view of the resurrected state by responding that heaven is vastly different than what we experience in this life. When the crowds heard this, they were amazed at his teaching (Matthew 22:33).

Conclusion Jesus exposed His adversaries as poor students of Scripture and those who were greatly deceived. A proper view of heaven is the basis for godly living on earth. Nothing wrong with questions to God, but let us remember that rebellion often surfaces as a question (see, for example, Genesis 4:9 – ‘the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”’). Repentance begins with our agreeing with God, and then acting accordingly. The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about authority. Once we accept the authority of the Bible as God’s Word, and the authority of Jesus Christ as the living Word of God, then we have already set our course. When we reject Jesus Christ as God’s provision for our sin, and His only way to heaven, we deny the authority of God, and we establish ourselves as the ultimate authority. I would suggest to you that when those who have rejected Jesus stand before God in heaven, they will be as silent as those who sought to oppose Jesus in our text. We will have no excuse, and no argument will justify our rebellion against Jesus. Jesus alone is God’s way of salvation. Trust in Him.

PRAYER

Hymn Courage, brother! do not stumble

1 Courage, brother! do not stumble,

though your path be dark as night;

there’s a star to guide the humble:

trust in God, and do the right.

Let the road be rough and dreary,

and its end far out of sight,

foot it bravely; strong or weary,

trust in God, and do the right.

2 Perish policy and cunning,

perish all that fears the light!

Whether losing, whether winning,

trust in God, and do the right.

Some will hate you, some will love you,

some will flatter, some will slight;

heed them not, and look above you:

trust in God, and do the right.

3 Simple rule and safest guiding,

inward peace, and inward might,

star upon our path abiding,

trust in God, and do the right.

Courage, sister! do not stumble,

though your path be dark as night;

there’s a star to guide the humble:

trust in God, and do the right.

Norman Macleod (1812-1872)

Benediction

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