For the 19th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 24
Scripture Reference: Matt. 22:15-22
Preparation: Bring coins with heads on them. You could bring a penny to hand out to each child at the end of the sermon.
Has anyone ever asked you a trick question? (Children may respond.) Here’s an example of what I mean by a trick question. What if you had two best friends, and someone asked you, “So, which one do you like best?” Well, you like both of them, but this person is asking you to choose only one. So this isn’t really a fair question.
Jesus was asked a trick question by a group of Pharisees who wanted to get him into trouble. They asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Matt. 22:17 RSV). This was a trick question because if Jesus said that you should pay taxes to Caesar, most of the Jews there would be angry because they didn’t like Caesar. But if Jesus said that you shouldn’t pay taxes to Caesar, then the policemen might come and arrest him, because you had to pay taxes.
So Jesus took their trick question and turned it into a question about not just where you pay your money, but where you pay your respect. Jesus asked the Pharisees to show him the money that they pay taxes with, and they showed him a coin that was like this quarter. (Show the quarter or other coin.) Then Jesus asked them, “Whose picture and title are stamped on [this coin]?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well then,” [Jesus] said, “give to Caesar what belongs to him, But everything that belongs to God must be given to God” (Matt. 22:20-21 NLT).
This quarter has a picture of George Washington on the front of it; he was the first president of the United States. Well, we can’t give this coin to George. He died a long time ago. But he represents the government, and we can pay our government the taxes that the country needs to provide us with roads, police officers, firefighters, parks, and so many other things.
We can give our money to the church to help support God’s work. We can use our money to help support people that are telling people about Jesus. Although God does appreciate our offerings, he wants more than just our offering on Sunday morning. God wants us to pay him our respect, love, and obedience. God wants us to offer our whole selves to him and be willing to serve with all of our heart.
Prayer: Lord, we offer to you our respect and our love and our obedience. We want to serve you with all of our heart.