Summary: How do we escape the traps of life, religion, etc? How do we get out, how do we keep out? In this message we discover the keys as we see some religious leaders try to trap Jesus.

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Mark 12:13-27


Pitch the hamster – feeling trapped. A hum-drum existence, punctuated by brief moments of excitement. Eat the food. Run on the wheel. Over and over again. Not able to be all a hamster could be. You could tell it was getting to her – more urgent climbing and chewing. Desperate for a break out. Well, it finally happened. More than a week ago, pitch escaped her trap.

Ever feel trapped? Not going anywhere? A treadmill? Frustrated by lack of accomplishment, purpose, meaning?

Trapped by a job? Relationship? Obligations? Life? Religion?

Some of us feel this way. Others don’t. Others of us need to know about traps – that they are out there. Pitch the hamster is free now, apparently running amok in our unfinished storage room. But what Pitch doesn’t know is that there are mouse traps in there…

If you’re not careful, you’ll get trapped.


How do we escape the traps of life, religion, etc? How do we get out, how do we keep out? Today we will discover the keys as we see some religious leaders try to trap Jesus.

Let’s watch the 1st trap get set as we read vv. 13-15a.

A. They try to trap Jesus with a question of allegiance

Pharisees & Herodians – strange allies: Republicans and Democrats. Broncos and Chiefs fans.

“Catch” = to trap an animal; they wanted to snare him.

Question carefully devised to discredit or imperil Jesus.

They tried to close off any path of evasion to this difficult and painful question.

Question surrounds the payment of the annual tax to Rome, started in 6 AD.

Highly emotional issue – people resented it greatly.

They wanted to force him into a compromising position:

“Yes” would discredit him in the eyes of the people

“No” would incur the retribution of Rome.

How will Jesus respond? Cornered, how will he react? Let’s see his answer as I read vv. 15b-16.

B. Jesus answers the question of allegiance

Jesus sees through them: “Why are you trying to trap me?”

Jesus calls for a denarius –Roman coin used to pay tax.

“Whose portrait?” – The emporer’s, Caesar Tiberius.

“Whose inscription?” – “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, Son of the Divine Augustus on one side. “Pontifex Maximus” (chief priest) on the other…

These are a reflection of the “imperial cult” and were a claim to divine honors.

So what did Jesus say? Let’s read v. 17.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

What is Caesar’s?

The coin, stamped with Caesar’s image.

Since the coin belonged to him, it was right to give it back to him – he had legal claim to it.

We have a moral obligation to obey authority (Ro. 13:1-7)

We must give proper allegiance to civil authorities.

Give to God what is God’s.

What is God’s?

Illus: 3 men who had their own way of deciding what belonged to God. Drew a circle: whatever landed inside was God’s; whatever landed outside was God’s; whatever stayed up in the air was God’s…

We’re not going to answer it that way.

What belongs to God?

If the coin, bearing Caesar’s image belongs to him,

What bears God’s image? We do!

We should completely give ourselves to God.

We should not give to man what is due only to God (as Caesar wanted)

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