Summary: As Jesus continued within the Temple, He was confronted about the lawfulness of paying taxes. Those who opposed Him sought to find further accusation. In Jesus' response, we find wisdom for our lives - taxes, tithes, and submission.
Conspiracy with a Coin
Mark 12: 13-17
As we continue through Mark’s gospel, I want to offer a reminder of the volatile environment in which Jesus walked at this time. He is in the last few days prior to the crucifixion. Having entered Jerusalem triumphantly, He had returned twice since, entering the Temple and dealing with the hypocrisy and vanity of the scribes and Pharisees. His presence among them, challenging their authority and religious practices had only added to their commitment to get rid of Jesus at any cost. Mark 11:18 – And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
Our text today reveals the first of many calculated attacks that will be carried out against Jesus prior to His arrest and trial. The religious elite of that day have banded together in their commitment to silence Jesus and rid Jerusalem of His teaching and influence.
The encounter before us today may seem of little significance to the casual Bible reader, but it reveals great truth that all need to understand and embrace. Those who are saved by grace have been bought with a price. We now belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, and our loyalty is to be submitted entirely to Him. As we examine the details within the text, I want to consider the thought: Conspiracy with a Coin.
I. A Planned Attack (13-15a) – In these verses we discover a calculated attack, carried out by those who opposed Jesus. Consider:
A. The Cooperation (13a) – And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. We immediately discover the coordinated attack carried out by a strange association of people. Apparently, this attack was orchestrated by the chief priests, those who held authority and influence over the Jews. It is not surprising to find the Pharisees involved in this coordinated attack. We know they were very conservative in their religious practices. They held strictly to the law and additional practices believed to be required for acceptance to God. They were legalists, condemning any who failed to share their commitment to these practices and beliefs. Most Pharisees were very self-righteous and prideful.
It is interesting to discover the group they chose to cooperate with during this particular assault. The Herodians were a political faction of Jews who were loyal to King Herod, enjoying the benefits associated with the Roman occupation. Herod supported the Roman occupation and sought to advance the influence of Roman culture within Jerusalem.
Normally these two groups were at odds with each other, choosing to avoid any association that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Their values and goals were completely opposite, and yet they have joined together in opposition to Jesus. While they despised each other, their hatred for Jesus served as the unifying factor in their cooperation. (Unfortunately, such an attitude remains today. Particular factions that usually have nothing to do with each other will often come together to oppose the Gospel and its advancement.)
B. The Motivation (13b) – And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. Again, as we have seen many times in past studies, there was no desire to learn of Jesus or receive anything from Him. These had come with the intention of setting a trap for Jesus and hopefully being able to accuse Him further because of His words and views. If He spoke in opposition to Rome, He could be accused as an insurrectionist; if He sided with Rome, He would lose credibility with the people. These thought they had a plan that would serve to hurt Jesus’ credibility and provide a rational accusation against Him among the people.
This is a tactic often encouraged by the enemy and many continue to follow his lead. They will go to great lengths to formulate questions or discussions in such a way that will lend themselves to accusation and condemnation. Such motivations are never pleasing to the Lord or led by the Holy Spirit.
C. The Deception (14a) – And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth. This manipulative group, usual enemies brought together through hatred, come to Jesus spewing words of flattery and superficial praise. They address Jesus as Master, seeking to portray an acknowledgement of His wisdom and position. They reveal an apparent admiration for His integrity in dealing with particular matters, regardless of the opinions of others. They praise Him for the way He taught the Word and way of God, providing guidance for all who heard Him teach.