Summary: Exposition of Mark 12:13-17 about Jesus’ confrontation with Pharisees over the taxes issue
Text: Mark 12:13-17, Title: Economics, Politics, and Religion, Date/Place: 10/12/08, PM
A. Opening illustration: Lots of really dumb things have been carried out in the name of these three
B. Background to passage: this is during Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem, and He has just told the parable about the tenants, and got the religious leaders so mad that they wanted to kill Him, but feared the people. They were so mad they left. But as Jesus continued to teach in the temple, they couldn’t stand it, and sent other groups to them. First up is the Pharisees and the Herodians together, which was somewhat of a strange combination. Explain who the Herodians were, and why this would have been a strange alliance. And they questioned him about paying taxes. They knew that if he said “yes, you should pay taxes,” he would alienate the people and the popular religious right; but if He said that no, you should not pay taxes,” he would incur the wrath of the Roman government.
C. Main thought: Jesus cloaked his answer in ambiguities to conceal and reveal truth
A. Exposing Hypocrisy (v. 15)
1. The first thing that Jesus did was ask them to get out a coin of some sort. He didn’t have any. And since he was about to unveil it for what it was (a symbol of Roman control and authority), He was exposing all of those who had one as embraced the idolatry of Rome, directly or indirectly. He was demonstrating to all that those who were wanting him to say (and would have said so themselves had they been asked the question) that the faithful shouldn’t support a pagan government through taxes, are themselves using the coin supported by that government. Much inconsistency is never really followed through.
2. Num 32:23, Luke 12:1-3, 1 Cor 4:5,
3. Illustration: whereas the later Zealots refused to even look at one let alone carry one feeling as if the presence of such a coin was contaminating, “There is absolutely no absolute truth.” A man, returning from a business trip, was met at the airport by his wife. They walked from the gate together and were standing waiting for the baggage to be unloaded. An extremely attractive stewardess walked by. Suddenly, the man came to life. Beaming, he said to the stewardess, "I hope we can fly together again, Miss Jones." His wife asked, "How come you knew the name of that stewardess?" The man replied smoothly, "Well dear, her name was posted up front in the plane, right under the names of the pilot and co-pilot." To which the wife replied, "Okay, so what were the names of the pilot and co-pilot?" BUSTED! The man’s hypocrisy was uncovered.
4. Rest assured that all the hypocrisy that you see will be recompensed. Most of it will be manifest openly, but what isn’t will be done in heaven. This is the sin that hurts Christ the most, and the one over which He grew the angriest—when those who claim to know him act in ways opposite of His instruction and lead others to do the same. It’s a concern that so many hypocrites get away with so much. And this is a big complaint among unchurched. And this is a reminder to us to continue to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, and not the failures of His “so-called” followers. People are always going to fail us, but He won’t. Let hypocrisy in others be a reminder to kill that same hypocrisy in ourselves; as we usually despise in others what we really don’t like about ourselves. Jesus will take care of the other person.
B. Revealing to the Seekers (v. 16)
1. A principle that we can draw out of this parable is that God gives insight to those really seeking it. I could have preached this parable about our relationship to government, and had plenty to say, but this is not about government, or taxes, or finances; it is really about the attempt at catching Jesus in his own answers to meaningless questions. And Jesus could have given a flawless discussion and argument for why or why not to pay taxes and its implication toward a walk of faith and the kingdom of God. But he didn’t! Why…because He knew (perfect tense “having known”) that they did not seek truth, but only to set a trap.
3. Illustration: having the discussion the other day about people who come to worship expecting to hear from God, and they hear…Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, "Knowledge, O wise and wonderful..." Socrates jammed him under again Forty seconds passed. Fifty. "What do you want?" "Air!" he screeched. "I need air!" "When you want knowledge as you have just wanted air, then you will have knowledge." cultural Christianity has so gripped the south that following Christ is not even a concern so as long as people are claiming to be a Christian and going to church,