The Significance of the Penny in Holy Week: Lessons for Today
Date: 12 April 2023
Preacher: Senior Pastor Joseph Mthombeni
Editor: Mrs Nthabiseng Motubatse
Principal Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:15-21
The holy week leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a significant period for Christians worldwide, as it represents the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for humanity. Throughout this week, there are various events that are commemorated, each with its own significance and message. One of these events that often goes overlooked is the examination of the penny, which Jesus used to expose the hypocrisy of the authorities of His time.
In order to understand the significance of the events that occurred during Holy Week, it is important to consider the historical context of Jesus' time. During this period, the Jewish people were under the rule of the Roman Empire, which demanded taxes and imposed its own laws and customs. It was within this context that Jesus had a confrontation with the Pharisees, who questioned his authority and challenged him to take a stance on the issue of paying taxes to Caesar. This moment highlighted the tension between earthly responsibilities and spiritual obligations, a theme that continues to resonate with us today. In this article, we will explore the lessons that can be drawn from Jesus' teachings and actions during this pivotal moment in history.
Historical Context of Jesus' Time
When Jesus was young it is apparent that He may have witnessed thousands of Jews being killed by the regime of the Roman empire for refusing to be involved in Rome’s census or the imposition of the taxation season. When they (the Pharisees) saw Jesus in Jerusalem and Him cleansing the temple, for them this equated to a revolutionary stance, thus the question was asked: “do we pay taxes to Caesar?”
Matthew 22:20 to 22 “And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” 21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled and left Him and went their way. The Pharisees understood what He meant by the response. Jesus was saying a revolution must be staged against a pagan authority. In today’s context God is saying to us let the spirit of revolution, the spirit of resistance against the enemy and pagan authority, let it rise within us. Jesus raised the coin that represented the arrogance of Caesar. Caesar had claimed to be the highest authority.
Jesus' Confrontation with the Pharisees
Jesus the true son of God stood in direct confrontation to the powers that be, and he exposed them for who they are, by raising their symbol to question their authority. Jesus exposes their hypocrisy by questioning their authority through the symbol of the coin, and what its inscription is saying. Jesus scattered the coins down by turning the tables, the scattering of the coins is symbolic, it is saying there is no authority except that of Christ.
This moment is significant because it highlights the tension between two competing authorities: the authority of the state, represented by Caesar and his image on the coin, and the authority of God, which is greater and more lasting. Jesus is not telling his followers to disregard the authority of the state altogether but rather to recognize that it is limited and subordinate to the authority of God.
The tension between Earthly Responsibilities and Spiritual Obligations
In our own lives, we often struggle with the tension between our earthly responsibilities and our spiritual obligations. We are called to be responsible stewards of our resources, including our money, but we must also recognize that our ultimate allegiance is to God. When we prioritize our relationship with God above all else, we can put our money and our resources in their proper place, as tools to be used for God's purposes rather than ends in themselves.
Lessons for Our Lives Today
As we reflect on the events of Holy Week, let us remember the powerful symbolism of the coins and the profound statement that Jesus made with a simple penny. Let us seek to live our lives in accordance with God's will, recognizing that our earthly responsibilities are always subordinate to our spiritual obligations. And let us trust in the power of God to scatter and throw down anything that stands in the way of our relationship with Him, whether it be poverty, sickness, or any other form of oppression. May this Holy Week be a time of renewal and rededication for us all.
In conclusion, the examination of the penny is a significant event during the holy week that often goes overlooked. However, it holds a profound message and lesson for us all. Jesus' actions show that true authority lies not with earthly powers but with God. We must give to each what is due to them, but we must also remember our ultimate allegiance to God. As we face various challenges and authorities in our lives, we can take comfort in knowing that God is with us and that his authority and power will ultimately prevail.
God is saying to you that whatever has been bothering you, its time has now expired! it will be scattered and thrown down! The time of poverty has expired, and all sickness and disease must be scattered and thrown down. The image that has been tormenting you over the years, has no authority over you. Every stagnancy must go! Satan has no power! A new dispensation is coming upon you.