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Temporary Submission to Taxation (Matthew Sermon 82 of 151)

Temporary Submission to Taxation (Matthew Sermon 82 of 151)

December 14, 2008 | Andrew Davis
Money and Possessions, Miracles, The Kingdom of Christ, Government & Authority

Introduction

Every April 15th, I can speak for at least one Christian I know, namely me, struggle with the issue of taxation. And is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? I mean, I must be honest, my struggle isn't necessarily a godly thing. I think it's that I dislike the fact that there's an ever-increasing hand reaching out for my wallet and I have purposes for that money. And so, it's a struggle. So, I'm being really honest with you that it's not a purely theological question that's in front of me at this point but it is a question nonetheless.

Where is Our Citizenship?

And it's something that we have struggled with, that we are citizens of really two kingdoms, two very different kingdoms at the same time. We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and citizens of kingdoms, as Christians, kingdoms on earth. And sometimes it's difficult to reconcile those and to work out how they fit together. And it's even harder for us in our time and in our age as it seems our American culture is going further and further away from Jesus Christ and away from the Gospel. It's even harder for us to say, “Is it right for us to pay taxes to the American government?” Especially when we see legalized abortion and we wonder if some of our monies are going to that issue, going to support things that we cannot embrace as Christians. A culture of death, of shame, and sorrow.

And so we wonder about that question. It's an age old-question. Christians during the time of the Roman Empire struggled with how they should relate to the Roman Empire. They were commanded by law to burn incense to Caesar as though he were a deity, now they couldn't submit to that. But Paul writes in Romans 13 that they should pay taxes to the Roman government, a wicked pagan government. And that they should submit as they could to God-ordained authority.

Well, in all these things, as always, Jesus Christ leads the way. He shows us what we are to do. Our citizenship is in heaven, we're told in Philippians 3:20 and we know that. And we're called on in 2 Corinthians 6 to come out and be separate from the unbelievers. And yet, for all of that, Jesus gives us a pattern of submission to God-ordained authorities, even to wicked authorities, for the higher purposes of God, for the glory of God. And we see it in the issue, strangely enough, of death and taxes, in this account. Those two things that we're told of we'll always have with us. There's nothing certain but death and taxes. Well, as Christians, we know there's a lot more certain than death and taxes but they are certain.

And in the matter of the laying down of his own life, Jesus submitted to wicked government. And in the matter of paying temple tax, Jesus again submitted to wicked government so that he would not cause offense. And so we come to this text to be instructed, so that we can learn how we can be good citizens here on earth and ultimately, good citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christ’s Submission to Evil Rulers in His Death

Context: Final Days in Galilee

The context here is Jesus Christ's final days in Galilee, verse 22-23 it says, “When they came together in Galilee he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him and on the third day he will be raised to life.’ And the disciples were filled with grief.”

Now in these final days in Galilee, they're really the final days, heading toward the final days Jesus had to minister on earth. As the gospel goes on in Matthew, Jesus begins to focus more and more of his attention on his disciples and not so much on the huge throngs that followed him. He's giving more and more attention to his twelve, to the apostles. This is probably within easily the last six months of his time on earth.

And he's especially concerned that his twelve apostles be ready for his death, that they would understand his death. And so he mentions it to them again and again that he is going to die. In Matthew 16:21, just a chapter back probably even on the same page there, it says, “From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

And again after the time with the disciples Peter, John and James on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus coming down the mountain again refers to his death, “Don't tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And they're discussing what does raised from the dead mean. But he's bringing it up, he's bringing up this issue. He wants them to understand the purpose of his coming to earth and that is that he would suffer and die for the sins of the world. And without that death on the cross, Christ would have accomplished nothing of lasting value.

His miracles would have made them a little healthier, or in this case a little bit wealthier. His teachings would have made them a little bit better informed, but they still would have died eternally under the wrath of God. Jesus came to save us from that wrath. To give us eternal life that we might live with him forever. That's why he came and he had to pay the price of his own physical death on the cross.

Christ’s Death Was Not Accidental

And therefore Christ's death is not accidental. Now, it says in the NIV that he was going to be betrayed into the hands of men, but I think a better translation might be delivered. New American Standard gives us that in verse 22, “While they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.’” Now, when we think of betrayed, of course, we think of Judas Iscariot, who sold Jesus' his master for 30 pieces of silver. But deeper, we think of Annas and Caiaphas, the high priest, the Jewish leaders who delivered Jesus over to Pontius Pilate and to the Romans. Or then perhaps we think of Pontius Pilate who delivered Jesus up to be crucified.

But I say to you in all of these things, the most important delivering was done by God the Father. That God the Father delivered Jesus up for our sins. In Romans 8:32 it says, “He who did not spare his own son, but delivered him over for us all, how will he not also along with him freely give us all things?” Christ was therefore on Earth to carry out the will of him who sent him, to carry out the will of God the father and he had come to be delivered over to death for us, and that is the Gospel.

It was God the Father who delivered Jesus into Pontius Pilate's hands ultimately. It was God the Father who delivered Jesus up to the cross. It was God's will to cause Jesus to suffer, it says in Isaiah 53, for us, to crush his own son on the cross that we might have eternal life. And it was Christ's will too. Christ acted voluntarily. It was his delight to do the will of the Father though it cost him his very life. He was glad to do the will of his Father, and so he was determined actually, determined to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die. In Luke 9:51 it says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” He's determined to go to the cross, knowing full well what was waiting for him there.

Jesus Submitted to Evil Government

And just as we will see in a moment with the paying of taxes, Jesus didn't have to do this but he chose to do it for our salvation. It says very plainly in John 10:18, Jesus speaking of himself saying, “No one takes my life from me but I lay it down freely of my own accord. I have the authority to lay it down and I have the authority to take it back up again. This command I received from my Father.” So, it wasn't Judas and it wasn't Annas or Caiaphas, and it wasn't Herod, and it wasn't Pontius Pilate, wasn't even the Romans who actually drove the nails through his arms and his feet that killed him. No. It was ultimately that Jesus laid down his life for us.

And in doing so he submitted to all of these evil men and their evil purposes. He just submitted to them. He submitted to Annas and Caiaphas, he submitted to King Herod, he submitted to Pontius Pilate, submitted to all of them meekly. Like a lamb to the slaughter, so he went.

God Exalts the Submissive

And we know from scripture that God opposes the proud, oh, but he exalts and gives grace to the humble. And because Jesus humbled himself even to the point of death on a cross therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. In this way, Jesus is a model of submission to even godless government who are seeking to carry out wicked plans and schemes not for the glory of God, but God had a higher purpose in Christ's death and for his glory and for his purposes, he died.

The Grief of the Disciples

Well, Jesus mentions it again and though the disciples never quite seemed to get it in the days of his life, before his crucifixion, they were starting to get it. And by this point, they're understanding what Jesus is saying. They don't understand the full ramifications, but it says in verse 23, “The disciples were filled with grief.”

Remember in Matthew 16, just the previous chapter, Peter had rebuked Jesus for even bringing this up. Took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Never Lord, this will never happen to you.” And Luke had made it clear that they had no idea what he was talking about. But here, it seems to be getting through and they're deeply saddened.

Isn't it amazing that they're deeply saddened? I guess at one level it makes sense. But it was for a great joy that will be for all peoples that Jesus came and that Jesus died. And so, they're saddened about the very thing that is necessary to make them eternally happy and joyful. They're saddened by the death of Christ.

So John McArthur said this, “Jesus understood their slow comprehension as well as their small faith and realized they needed repeated reminders, especially about truths that were not only hard to understand but painful to accept. They needed to be prepared for the reality that their Lord was soon going to be taken away from them by death, and that before he died he would suffer and be tormented.” It would not be until after Christ rose from the dead and the coming of the Holy Spirit that they would understand fully all of these things.

That the Son of Man, Matthew 20:28, did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Friends, this is the gospel, this is why Jesus came. Don't forget that. In all of the sensual delights of Christmas, in all of the distractions that they bear, don't forget why Jesus came. He came to give his life as a ransom for you and me. That by his life blood, we might stand forgiven before God.

It will not be long friends before we stand before him and give him an account for our lives. And the blood of Jesus Christ is the only hope that we have of salvation. Trust in him. Trust in him now. Perhaps you have never given your life to Christ, perhaps you don't even understand what Christmas is about. Your mind is filled with all kinds of cultural images about this season. Put them aside and focus on the man on the cross, the bloody sacrifice on the cross, he died in your place so that all of your transgressions might be forgiven. And focus on the beauty of the empty tomb and what it signifies for us, that we can live forever. “Because I live, you also will live.” Focus on that and then come back to Christmas and celebrate it properly.

Christ’s Submission to Evil Rulers in Paying Taxes

The Tax Collector Comes

So Jesus submitted concerning death, he also submitted concerning taxes. The tax collector came, the tax man cometh, in verses 24-25, “After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two drachma tax came to Peter and asked, ‘Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?’ ‘Yes, he does,’ he replied.”

So this is Capernaum, this is the center of Jesus' ministry up there in Galilee. And this is the last time that his hometown will be mentioned in this gospel. He's about to depart and go down to Jerusalem to pay for it all. But there he is, still in Capernaum, and so the tax collector comes to Peter, he finds Peter alone. I don't know why Peter was separated from the others, but this is a conversation that just the tax collector and Peter had. They are alone.

Now this two drachma tax was a government approved tax that had its roots or basis in the law of Moses. In Exodus chapter 30, Moses ordained that every Jewish male 20 years old or over should pay an annual tax of half a shekel for the running of the tabernacle. When the temple replaced the tabernacle the tax continued.

Now Christ came to fulfill the law and he submitted to all of the minutiae of the law so that he might accomplish a righteousness for us that will cover us on judgment day. So he came to fulfill the law not to abolish it. It's interesting that the tax collector doesn't come to Jesus directly but instead comes to Peter and asks about the taxes. Now the Greek implies that the tax collector expected that Jesus would in fact pay the tax, but perhaps he thinks he'd forgotten up to this point, busy as he was, or he'd neglected to pay his taxes.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Everything Jesus does he does for a purpose. Peter gives a simple answer, “Yes, he does pay the temple tax.” So Peter, having been with Jesus perhaps a number of years by now, had seen in the past, he had paid this tax. Perhaps he himself was wondering why he hadn't paid it yet.

Now who was it that received this money? Now, there's an interesting question, isn't it? It doesn't say anything in the text about it, but we have to understand who got the money. The high priest got the money. It was the high priest that received the temple tax. Who was the high priest? Well, at this point it was Caiaphas. But the real power behind that throne was Annas. Annas was still the high priest in power though not in name. Of course you know from the scriptures that the office of high priest was supposed to be for life but when the Romans took over, they felt that that was too much power in that very religious land of the Jews and so they would cycle the thing through. But it was always someone connected with Annas that had it during this time.

Annas had it, he was established as high priest in the year 7 AD by Quirinius, the Governor of Syria. You've heard of him, he was the one who was governor during the time of the poll tax, taken by Caesar Augustus. So in 7 AD Annas was established, but then he's removed eight years later because he's just too powerful. Well, that's okay, he gets five of his sons plus his son-in-law to serve in his place one after the other. He's still the power behind the throne.

Now, this family, this household of Annas, they were like the religious mafia, my friends. They were wicked men who controlled the financial aspects of the religious life of Israel. Their corruption took advantage of the law of Moses which required Jews to offer sacrifice at the temple three times a year. Three times a year they were to go up and offer sacrifice and they were to bring perhaps a sheep or a goat or some kind of animal and they would carry it with them or lead it with them on their way to the temple. 

Well, it just so happened as an Israelite man would come there with his sheep on his shoulders perhaps, carried it up there from the field, he would be met by a temple official who would officially inspect his sacrifice to see if it was acceptable. And guess what, it just wasn't. And then the sheep was confiscated. Oh, don't worry, it'll be seen again the next day sold to a different pilgrim. By this time, it's been acceptable now to the temple inspection. I don't know what they did to make it acceptable, but overnight it has become now an acceptable sheep.

But we have over here a pen of pre-accepted sheep or goats you can buy from them, four times the cost. And so they would go and they would pick up these sacrifices, these expensive pre-approved sacrifices.

Of course, their money was no good there, they had to exchange money, only the temple shekel was used on the temple grounds and so right over here you have the money changers. And so they will be happy to change your outlying currency for some temple currency for a small fee, or maybe even a big fee. Josephus tells us that during the time of passover, during the time of Jesus around that time, a quarter of a million lambs were sacrificed. Money was rolling into the house of Annas, huge amounts. And that was just one of the three annual sacrifices, the pilgrimages, that the Jews made.

What did Jesus think of all this? Well, you know very well what he thought of all this. In John chapter 2, as Jesus enters Jerusalem, he comes in there and he sees the cattle and sheep and the doves and all the people selling them, he sees the whole thing, and he sees over here the benches of those exchanging money.

And he goes in over and sits down and makes a whip. A picture of the wrath of God. God is slow to anger but when he gets angry, watch out. The wrath of God at work in Jesus and he overturns the benches of the money changers and he drives out all of those animals and he says, “How dare you turn my father's house into a marketplace?” And it was remembered, “Zeal for my father's house will consume me.” Jesus would do it again after the triumphal entry, he did it twice. And in this way, I think, at the human level, this is why they killed him. He had crossed the mafia's business. He had gotten involved in their money-making machine and he was dangerous therefore, to them.

That's who's gonna get the money. Very interesting, isn't it? Is Jesus still gonna pay the tax despite the fact that these wicked men are going to get the money? Yes, he is going to pay the tax because it was right to do.

Christ’s First Lesson: Sons Are Exempt

Now, Jesus first has a lesson for them. “When Peter comes into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. ‘What do you think Simon?’ he asked. ‘From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes - from their own sons or from others?’ ‘From others,’ Peter answered. ‘Then the sons are exempt.’”

Well, Peter was alone out in the street having this conversation. A private conversation with the tax collector. In he comes to the house and there's Jesus, who wasn't with them out in the street. And Jesus brings up the topic of taxes and tax collecting. I would think Jesus would be a bit eerie to be around from time to time, don't you think? I mean, it's a bit startling to know that you're in the presence of a man who can read your mind. And it says again and again in the accounts that Jesus could read their thoughts. He knew what they were thinking. He knew what was in every man's heart. And so he just brings it up.

Reminds me of another time when Simon the leper had Jesus over and a sinful woman comes and washes Jesus' feet. And the man is thinking, “If this man were a prophet he would know what kind of woman it is that's touching him, that she's a sinner.” And the text says, “Jesus answered Simon and said …” That's a bit troubling, isn't it? Well, let me tell you something, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. He's reading all of your minds right now. He knows your thoughts, he knows mine, he knows whether we live for the glory of God or not, he searches our hearts and minds. It says in Revelation, gives to each one, according to what he deserves.

And so he knew Peter's thought and he brought up the topic, “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes, from their own sons or from others?” Now, what is the point he's trying to make? It's the same point with the cleansing of the temple, it's the same thing. He said when he was 12 years old, and he said, “Don't you know I had to be about my Father's business?” He's right there in the temple, the temple is his Father's house, It was his Father's house.

How many of you pay a fee to get into your father's house? And if you do come and tell me about it, I'll think your father is one of the hardest men that ever lived. It's an idea though, charging admission. What do you think? Every time, think of the money that could be made? Of course, the problem is we're the ones that give the allowance. So, I don't know where it comes from. They're gonna soon be out of money and they're gonna come and hit us up for it, anyway, so I don't think much money can be made.

The fact of the matter is, the principle is the same. We are welcome in the Father's house, we don't have to pay taxes to be in his house. We don't have to pay taxes in his kingdom, and so he's making a point here, even though he's going to pay the tax. He's making a point, I believe about our future freedom in the new heaven and new earth. We'll get to more of that later.

The fact of the matter is Jesus is making a point, speaking of the freedom of the Son of God, and even before that, friends, as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “The time is coming when you will worship the Father neither in Jerusalem or at this mountain. God is a spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” You can worship God anywhere in the new covenant, by the power of the Spirit, you don't have to pay any tax money to do that. Worship is free and you're freely welcome into the very presence of God.

But for all of that, Jesus came to fulfill the law, he came to obey the law. It says in Galatians 4:4-7, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law so that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the spirit who calls out, ‘Abba Father.’ So you are no longer a slave but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

So Jesus came to get under the law, to fulfill it completely and rescue us from its dominion and bring us into the full freedom of our inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. Oh, how sweet is that? It says in Galatians 5:18, “If you're led by the Spirit, you're not under law.” And so, we're free at last, from the temple tax. 

Christ’s Second Lesson: We Must Not Offend

But Christ has a second lesson. He doesn't want to offend them. Oh, how fascinating is this? “So that we may not offend them.” He's going to give Peter some instructions. Christ never came to cause people to stumble into sin. The word is related in the Greek to a scandal, to scandalize them, he didn't come to cause them to stumble into sin that was not his purpose. He's not there to draw anyone into sin. And yet in some way, that's precisely why he did come.

For it says in Romans 9:33, “Behold I lay a stone in Zion that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Jesus is the ultimate stumbling stone for the human race, but he doesn't want them to stumble over this detail.

For all of that, Jesus is able and willing to offend them when he must. In Matthew 15, he offended the Pharisees when he declared all foods clean, offended them. In John 6, Jesus offended most of his hangers on and groupies by telling them that they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood or they were going to hell. Well, that weeded a lot of groupies out that day. This was a hard saying, who can accept it? And out they went, they were offended by it. In John 8, and Jesus having a discussion with his enemies, talking about Abraham, “Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day, he saw it and was glad.” “You're not yet 50 years old, and you've seen Abraham?” “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” Oh, they were offended at that. They stumbled over that statement, conversation over. Time to pick up stones, and stone him, he's clearly a blasphemer.

Jesus offended the members of his home town by his astonishing claims, teachings and miracles. They were offended by him. They said, “Isn't this Joseph's son and Mary's? We know him, we know his family.” He offended them, by his life and his ministry. He offended the Pharisees by eating and drinking with tax collectors and prostitutes and other sinners. They were offended, scandalized, by it. Finally, on trial for his life, he's before the high priest and the high priest at that climactic moment, when they're unable to get any witnesses whose testimonies will agree. At that climactic moment, he says, “I charge you under oath, by the living God, tell us if you were the Christ, the Son of God?” And he answers, “I am.” And then he quotes Daniel 7, “In the future, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Did he not know that this would offend them? Of course he knew. He had come to be the stone or the rock of offense and stumbling. And then he sets it up permanently in the Gospel. The Gospel is a stone of offense, a rock of stumbling for the human race, and so it says in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24,

“We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block, a scandal, to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” And so those that stumble, they fall for eternity, but those that build their lives on that rock, it will stand for eternity my friends, so he is willing to scandalize the human race. But he deeply desires that we avoid giving offense on things that just don't matter.

We should not offend others, for example, by flaunting our freedoms. Our right to eat meat sacrificed to idols, our right to drink wine, our right not to circumcise our sons, our right to go anywhere we please because we're sons and daughters of the living God. So as Gentiles, we now have the freedom to enter the temple grounds? No, Paul didn't teach that. We don't flaunt our freedoms and thus cause people to stumble over them. It says in Romans 14:13, “Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.” Romans 14:21, “It is better, not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”

In terms of missionary strategy, evangelistic strategy, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9, “To the Jews. I became like a Jew, in order to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (Though I myself, am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. And to those not having the law, I became like one not having law (Though I am not free from God's law but I'm under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

And so, missionaries in foreign lands have to be very careful what they're willing to offend over or not. Is it missionary boldness for a missionary in a Muslim land to make jokes or to blaspheme the name of Muhammad? Is that boldness or courage? Or somebody, ministering in a Hindu land to mock an idol? Is that boldness? Is that courage? I think not, rather preach the cross. Let the cross be the stumbling block. Let the incarnation of Jesus Christ be the stumbling block. Let justification by faith alone apart from works, let that be the stumbling block. Tell the truth about those false religions, tell the truth, but there's a way to do it, that doesn't cause offense, accept the truth of the gospel.

I used to work as an engineer with a man who - But I'll put it charitably, was one of the boldest workplace witnesses I'd ever seen in my life. I will say this, every single day that I worked with him, he was in some argument with some non-Christian over some moral issue. I remember that. Something in my spirit, I admired his courage, I didn't see a lot of love in him. I will say that. I'm not trying to judge him. I'm not, I'm trying to learn how to be a workplace witness but I know how people talked about him behind his back. And I wonder if he could have learned something from Jesus here in Matthew 17, “So that we may not offend them.” Okay, there's a desire Jesus had here, not to offend over things that aren't worthy of offense.

Christ’s Provision: A Fish with a Coin

And so he decides he's going to provide for Peter. Now, stop just a moment. Wouldn't you love this at tax time? It's April 15th. Just go fishing friends, just go fishing and take the first fish you catch, and open its mouth, and there you'll find everything you need to pay your taxes. Oh, how sweet would that be, my friends? Oh, how sweet would that be?

This miracle upholds the dignity of Jesus, the Son of God, because by the power of the Father, the taxes are being paid. It also upholds the law, so that he doesn't give offense, it's a perfect answer. How did he do it? By the way, there's no account that it actually happened but I don't need it. Do you? I mean, the Roman centurion said, “You don't have to come, just say the word, and it's done.” Alright? So Jesus has given the word, this fish was caught and the coin was found, friends. Even though, it's not in the account, I believe it.

Well, how did he do it, how did Jesus do it? Answer: I don't have the first idea. I can think of a scenario. Some guy out in a boat stands up and four drachma coin flips out of his pocket, flutters down, kind of bright and twinkling in the sea of Galilee. A big fish comes by, looks like a lure or whatever, looks like something he wants to eat. Anyway, he opens his mouth and swallows it. No? It lodges in his mouth, but it doesn't kill him. He's gotta stay alive, long enough to be caught on Peter's line. So he swims around some indeterminate amount of time, Peter goes to a specific place in the lake, he throws out the line, and this is in fact the first fish he caught. By the way, Peter, most fishermen, there in Galilee they use nets, this is the only fishing pole and line I found in the New Testament. Maybe you can find another one. But out it goes. He's not a fly fisherman though, that won't work. It's gonna go down, and this fish is coming up with its mouth half full of four drachma coin and takes the hook and Peter lands it. Opens up its mouth and there is the coin.

Wouldn't you love to have been with Peter when he did that? Oh, what an incredible thing. Now, you would love for Jesus to do this.

Lessons to Learn

Meditate on the Supernatural and Natural Provision of Christ

One of my lessons to you today is, he can still do this. As a matter of fact, he can do anything. He is omnipotent. He controls every fish, every coin, every wind that blows, he controls everything. He controls history. Friends, you might be having trouble paying your taxes and you could be walking down a road and you could see a rock in front of you and before your very eyes, it could turn into a diamond bigger than the Hope Diamond, or any other diamond that's ever been and it would pay for all of your taxes for the rest of your life.

God has that kind of power. Well, then why doesn't he do it? The answer is, he loves you too much to do that. Maybe he wants to tell you, “Go back to your job and catch 30 fish, and as you sell them, from the profit you'll be able to pay your taxes.” Is that not Christ's provision as well, friends? And yes, he can provide miraculously, he can still do that and there may be times that he will work in such an astonishing, providential way that you will be on your knees before God giving him thanks. You may be in financial trouble right now, you may be wondering how you're gonna pay for your groceries, you may be wondering how you're gonna pay your mortgage or your rent. You may not have any idea where these things are coming. You may have all those needs met now, but you wonder if you're gonna still have a job a year from now.

Oh, don't be anxious about anything. In everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to the God, to the Christ, who can do this kind of thing with the fish. And then let him decide what he's gonna do, let him provide for you in marvelous ways.

We Must Submit to Governing Authorities

Now, our citizenship, friends, is in Heaven, but we're still here, aren't we? And we need to submit to governments even to evil governments. I don't know the future of our government. I don't know how Christlike or godly or biblical it will be 30, 40, 50 years from now.

I do know this, while we can, when we can, as often as we can, we must gladly submit to God-ordained authorities. When they violate the laws of God, we must stand firm and not yield. But in general, we must give thanks for these authorities and submit as Christ did in this matter of death and also in taxes. Be willing to pay.

Now, having said that, that doesn't mean that we need to vote more taxes for ourselves, alright? We had the opportunity to do that in November, you remember? On the prepared food tax? I will tell you, I voted against it, okay? I don't think that we necessarily have to ask for an ever increasing tax burden. But whatever the government has decided is the tax rate, we must pay it, friends. And pay it with a glad heart.

Realize the Full Freedoms of the Gospel

But having done that, let's realize where we're heading, Jesus wants us to know the full freedom where we're heading toward friends. What kind of world is waiting for us in the New Heavens and New Earth? It is a place where there will be no tax booths on the streets of gold, paying for the upkeep, okay? No upkeep needed friends, no tax money there. You won't have to pay real estate tax on your inheritance in the new earth. It's going to be yours forever. No taxes there, you're not gonna be charged a 5 percent surcharge as you sit at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. You're not gonna get a bill at all, friends, without money and without cost. No taxes. We're heading there and we have even better than that, full access to Almighty God now and forever. Through a new and living way open through the body.

That's why Jesus came, that's why he was laid in a manger, and that's why he was raised in the ordinary physical way, and that's why he died. That there might be a new and living way, without money and without cost into the very presence of Almighty God. That is the Gospel, that's what he has provided for all of us.

And finally, don't be anxious about your financial situation, don't worry about taxes, don't worry about where the money is going to come from. Work your property. Work your field, whatever it is. Work your career if that's what you call it, your calling. Let God provide for you in the ordinary way. And if per chance, you need some extraordinary provision, he knows that too, and he will do so in answer to prayer. Close with me in prayer now.

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