Sermon Notes From The Christmas Conspiracy Project Part 3–Render Unto Caesar…

The Christmas Conspiracy Project Part 3–Render Unto Caesar…

The Bible is a story (a true story) but a story and, as it is with any story, how you begin the story and end the story determines the type of story you are telling.
 
The story begins in Genesis.  Let’s look at 1:26-27.

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

    27 So God created human beings in his own image,
       in the image of God he created them;
       male and female he created them. 
Note the refrain about all of us being made in the “image of God.”  In the ancient near east and during the time of the Roman Empire, you would stamp your image on that which belongs to you. 
 
Now, the story ends in (in some ways) in Revelation.  Let’s look at 19:11-18.
 

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
       KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 

    17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

    19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

As scholar N.T. Wright argues, Jesus’ return is depicted as a general leading an invasion.   This is where the clip from The Boondock Saints comes in.  Jesus will return to judge and will banish the darkness.  All addictions that tear at us, broken relationships that pain us or stress that weighs on us will be gone. 

The story begins with God creating it and finishes with Jesus returning to set things right.
Where do you fit in to this story?
 
Look at Matthew 22:15-22
 
 

15 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, “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.
Normally, we look at this passage in regards to how we was followers of Jesus should approach political issues or something like that but I think there is much more going on here. 

Caesar stamped his image on coins to signify that it truly belongs to him.  What has God stamped His image on?

Take a look in the mirror and think about it.

On Christmas, we celebrate the coming of the world’s one true God, one true King and one true Lord and anticipate his return.

While we wait, we urge you this Christmas to pledge to finally render

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