As we open our study this week we find ourselves in the city of Jerusalem. The city has become swollen to twice it's normal size by the arrival of pilgrims who have traveled from all over the Roman empire to celebrate The Passover Feast.
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, Jesus the Nazarene arrived and was spontaneously welcomed into the city with a triumphal procession. The common people regard him as a holy man and an heir to the Throne of David.
Jesus' first public act was to "cleanse the temple of the buyers and sellers. The procession and the cleansing have caught the attention of the religious and civil leaders of the Jews. They regard Jesus and His teachings as a threat to their authority and have been plotting His death since Mark 3:6.
Now it appears that the people are ready to declare Jesus King. In order to destroy Jesus's credibility with the people the Chief Priests and The Teachers of the Law have publicly confronted Jesus in The Temple Court, but Jesus humiliated His opponents and they have withdrawn from Him in the sight of the crowds who were assembled to hear Him teach.
In today's devotional we will see Jesus once again face an attack from the Teachers of the Law and the Herodians.
Our story opens to find Jesus in The Temple Court teaching a huge crowd of worshipers when suddenly He is approached by a party of well dressed men................
Our Father in Heaven, your are our Lord and King! We have become yours by the blood of your Son Jesus and our hope of salvation is in you. Oh Master we live in the world and are governed by rulers who do not know you and have no respect for your Kingdom. Give us grace and wisdom to know how to conduct ourselves in the world in which we live so that our actions and our words may give glory to you and draw others to seek you...... In Jesus' Name...Amen
Open your Bible to Mark 12:13-17, Read the text several times until you are familiar with the story.
"They", refers to The Chief Priests and The Teachers of the Law that Jesus humiliated in the previous verses. Although The Priests (Sadducees), The Teachers of the Law (Pharisees), and The Herodians (supporters of the "royal" family of Herod), have always been adversaries, they have put aside their differences to destroy their common foe, Jesus.
It is not surprising for an outspoken Christian to find himself surrounded by critics from opposing camps. The world is filled with variety of philosophies, however they all have one thing in common, they all reject our Lord who said, "no-one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
Proverbs 27:6 says it all, "The kisses of an enemy are deceitful", Their complements are only a cover to lull Jesus into carelessness. Their only purpose is to destroy Jesus by forcing him to take a public stand on the issue of taxes.
The poll tax that the Jews were forced to Pay to Rome was a constant humiliation and reminded each one that Israel was a concurred nation paying tribute to a heathen king.
The plan was to get Jesus to make a "yes or no" answer. If Jesus says it is right to pay the taxes, the people will reject Him as a friend of the Roman pagans. If Jesus says no to the taxes, the Pharisees and Herodians will have the Roman governor arrest him for treason against Caesar. Either way they win and Jesus looses.
Often times Christians are embarrassed when they are tricked into taking stands in public situations. We desire so much to share our wisdom with the world that we sometimes speak before we think, and end up regretting our words. Even the truth can be made to look like foolishness if it is carelessly spoken.
Most often when I am in the lunch room at work and some religious topic comes up, I realize that no one is really interested in the truth. The conversation is just small talk and will be forgotten as soon as the break buzzer rings.
When someone asks me my opinion in such a situation, I usually answer that I need to look up some Scripture to get a clear idea of what God has to say, then I come to the one who asked and speak to him privately. If God has opened a door in his heart, our conversation can pursue the opportunity and we can speak openly and intimately of the things of God without fear of the ridicule of others.
As we shall see, Jesus had no need to delay His answer, he knew the purpose of his questioners and he knew what to say in answer to their question.
Oh!- for the wisdom to be always ready to speak to the glory of God, and the courage to stand on faith in the face of our enemies. Buy prayer and a daily diet of God's Word we can prepare ourselves for battle. God give us wisdom from above!! Verses 15b-16
"Their Hypocrisy", They appeared to love God and rule in righteousness, yet Jesus knew that in their hearts they loved only themselves, and all their words and actions were self serving.
"Why are you trying to trap me?", They must have been surprised to hear Jesus ask this question after their flattery. Notice they avoided answering the question, their answer would have revealed their wicked intentions, and exposed them to the anger of the crowd.
The coin that they brought Jesus was a Roman Denarius. It was required legal tender for paying the poll tax, and as all Roman coinage, it was considered the personal property of Caesar by Roman law.
Jesus' answer was so profound and so unexpected that the questioners were reduced to silence. His answer spelled out the true relationship between man, government, and God.
God is sovereign over all, His will and His law are preeminent. Government is permitted and ultimately answerable to God. Man is required to submit to government's authority in all ways that do not compromise God's Law.
Christianity is a religion that can exist and be a blessing to any form of Government that permits it to exist within it's realm.
Admittedly all human government is flawed and imperfect, but in Christ we can be an influence for good.
Her daughter is troubled by a Satanic presence.
Prayer to be set free from slavery to habitual sin.
Prayer for his Aunt who had a heart attack, her operation, and her nervous condition.