Devotional # 32. 5/6/13. Questions and Traps on Death and Taxes.
This week’s Reading: Mark 12: 13-27.
Introduction. Last week we read the parable of the wicked vinedressers. This week Jesus will be asked two questions: who to pay taxes to and whether eternal life is real.
vv. 13-14. We know who the Pharisees are, some of the religious leaders, but who are the Herodians? The Herodians were mentioned in Devotional #10, they were a political group that took their “name from Herod Antipas” and usually opposed the Pharisees but when it came to killing Jesus they agreed (Source 1). So when you saw the Pharisees and Herodians team up you knew it was bad. They had one common goal: destroy Jesus before He destroyed their power and way of life. So these men say true things (“You are true“, You don’t care what men think about you, “teach the way of God in truth”) but they don’t believe it. They are setting a trap. So they ask if paying taxes is OK or not. Remember the Romans oppressed the Jews. So they asked, ‘is it against God’s law to give Gentile, tyrannical rulers our money?’
vv. 15-17. Jesus wisely answers, knowing they are trying to trap Him. A “denarius” was a piece of money worth 25 denarii (Source 2) and, as we saw in Devotional #18, one denarii was worth a day’s wage. It is the same here, in Matthew 22:20 and in Luke 20:24, Jesus asks whose picture is on the money and they answer “Caesar’s.” Interestingly a picture of the goddess of peace was also on the back so the Jews carrying this were carrying blasphemy. Then Jesus says pay your taxes to the earthly government and “give to God what is God’s.” Most people think He meant to tithe or put money in the offering but that’s not all! Ravi Zacharias says at this point he would have asked “what’s God’s?” Zacharias says Jesus would ask: ‘What bears His image?’ The answer, of course, is we bear God’s image (Gen. 1:27) so then we give all of ourselves to Him. What an epiphany! No doubt that is why those hell-bent on killing Him “marveled at Him.”
vv. 18-19. Now we have Sadducees (another group of religious leaders) who Mark notes don’t believe in resurrection from the dead, come up to Him. This is important that they don’t believe in the afterlife because they only cared about profit and living for the moment. They quote from Moses (Deuteronomy 25:5-6) that if a man died with no children the brother was supposed to marry the widow and carry on the family name. They will give Jesus a story from this Biblical premise next.
vv. 20-23. The hypothetical story they make up is almost like a parable but instead of being witty and teaching something it is a trap. They think that they have finally have caught Him with a hard question!
vv. 24-25. Jesus responds that they don’t know how heaven works. First, He explains that in heaven marriage between man and woman doesn’t apply like on earth. The whole reason God gave us marriage was a picture of what our relationship with Him should look like. Each person is responsible to chose Jesus for salvation, we are the bride and He is the Groom.
vv. 26-27. Second, Jesus tells them from the Scripture that God does tell humans that there is eternal life. He quotes from Exodus 3:6 where, although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were dead, God says that Heisthe God of them…not was the God of them. Since God made time He is not held to it and He isn’t the God of the dead but “of the living.”
Conclusion. The smartest and craftiest minds of His time tried to trap and kill Jesus but He had an unfair advantage…He created them, He knew what they were going to ask before they did and He had all the answers. But Jesus never snaps His fingers silencing them and He never runs out of patience. Instead He used the times as opportunities to teach others and give truth. Jesus always pointed people towards “the way, the truth and the life” because that is the only answer!
Source 1: MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1463.