30th March 2021
...the fig tree...
'Give to the Emperor that which
belongs to the emperor and to
God that which is Gods'.
.... Matthew 22:21
People understand Holy Week in many different ways.
For some it is a time when they go to church
a little more often and feel sorry for Jesus,
more still will go to the liturgies of Palm Sunday
and Easter Day without witnessing
the life and death moments in between.
Still for others, it is a genuinely engaging time
when we come to understand something of the
extent of God's love in the face of
complete human fear and despair.
On their way back to Jerusalem, Jesus and his
disciples passed the fig tree which Jesus had
cursed on the previous day.
The disciples were surprised to see the tree wither
so rapidly. Jesus used the disciples' surprise
to teach on genuine faith in God --
rather than doubt or simple amazement.
Even a mustard-size faith is sufficient to
move mountains when it lines up with God's will
The faith of Jesus' followers would be
greatly tested in the days
prior to His resurrection.
This Holy Week we're spending time with Jesus
in Jerusalem, watching events unfolding on the
journey from "Hosanna in the highest" to
We've already seen confrontations between Jesus
and religious leaders.
We've seen the way Jesus cleared the
temple court of traders and heard how he
countered questions from Chief Priests
and elders about his authority.
Today it's the turn of a group of Pharisees
to find Jesus in the Temple courts
and try catching him out.
They've come up with the perfect catch question:
"Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor,
If Jesus says "no, it's not lawful for us,
as Jews, to pay taxes to the emperor"
then the Roman authorities will act swiftly
to crush the suggestion of rebellion
and many of Jesus' followers will be frightened off.
If Jesus says "yes, we should pay taxes to the emperor"
he will lose those among his followers who
are hoping he will lead a movement
to free them from Roman rule.
If we reflect on Jesus' reply,
'Give to the Emperor that which
belongs to the emperor and
to God that which is Gods.'
I think we will hear him asking us
to remember who we are -
the people of God, whose image we bear,
and whose presence is with us.
He calls us to choose again the new life
he offers us; to see things as God sees them,
to live in this world with God's values of love,
justice and mercy rather than the values of power,
wealth and social status.
The message of Jesus is that the Kingdom of God
is among us now, within this world with all its
complicated forms of government, authority
and administration of justice.
It is from within this world that Jesus
calls us to give to God what belongs to God
who is constantly working
to make his voice heard.
And his voice is heard;
it might be hard to hear it in the
clamour of everyday life but it's there,
like the still small voice after the earthquake,
tsunami, wind, fire and nuclear threat.
God's voice cuts through the commercial atmosphere
of competition and exploitation
speaking of fairness and encouragement.
His voice cuts through cries for vengeance and war,
speaking of understanding and peace.
His voice cuts through the sounds of
ambition and ruthlessness speaking of
humility and gentleness.
He calls for our voices to speak this language
of God's Kingdom in this world,
"You bear God's image:
so give yourself back to him".
It's a call to put the vision of God's Kingdom
above our own prejudices, resentments,
jealousies and ambitions.
It's a call for us to be the people God
wants and needs us to be.
We bear God's image,
so let us choose to give ourselves back
to him in this holy week.
It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'In your truth'
sung by One Hope Project
(Official Lyrics Video)
via the link shown below.