Summary: Jesus did not answer yes or no to the question of paying taxes to Caesar!
In preparation for the passage today, let us remind ourselves of the life of Jesus Christ on earth…… First of all, let us not forget that God through the Old Testament Prophets described the way Jesus Christ would come to earth and how His life would be like. God loves people and He tells everyone what the future will be like. God reveals Himself to man in many ways. It is up to man to believe. Romans 1 tells us that man will have no excuse for not knowing God.
Now, about how many prophecies were there in the Old Testament that was fulfilled by Jesus’s life?? – 400!!
And so, as prophecied, Jesus was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth. Now, in general, what happened in Jesus’ life as a man??
We have been learning from the gospel of Mark that many loved and followed Jesus but many more hated Him, especially the religious leaders at the time. We read in Mark 11 the triumphal entry of Jesus in Jerusalem; they were proclaiming about Jesus, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest”, but many despised Him.
Let us now look at Mark 12…… We noted last week from v1-12, Jesus warned the religious leaders but they hated Him even more. We can note in Mark 12 verses 12, 13, 18, and 28, how the religious leaders tried to trap Jesus. Look briefly with me at Mark 12:38…. As we will read, Jesus knew their hypocrisy. Jesus warns His followers of the hypocrisy of the religious leaders.
Again, in this chapter, the religious leaders tried to trip up Jesus in several areas but we will focus on v13-17 today. Read along with me now Mark 12:13-17; let’s actually begin with v12 so we know who they were in v13….
v13: Jewish Religious Leaders who despised Jesus included Pharisees and Herodians; who were they? Pharisees tended to be political, people pleasing. Herodians also were political but desired the ideology of old King Herod who was a tyrant. Because the Pharisees and Herodians were political and the Jewish people hated paying taxes to the Roman Empire they asked Jesus about paying taxes. These leaders were trying to trap Jesus. Those leaders were not dumb; it was what we would call today a Catch 22 question; a yes or no answer would both be wrong!
If Jesus said no to paying taxes, what would they have accused Him of??
It was a crime not to pay taxes and they could have sent Jesus to jail!
And if Jesus said yes you should pay taxes, what would have been the accusation??
If Jesus said yes to paying taxes, He would have been accused of supporting an ungodly empire.
Now look again at v15…. Let us note that Hypocrisy is like putting on a mask, as an actor playing a role different than themselves. How did Jesus know they were hypocrites?? Jesus Christ is God and knows all! v15: Jesus knew their hearts; their motives in life.
What would you say was the “mask” that these religious leaders were trying to show Jesus? What would you say these religious leaders were trying to impress Jesus with but internally they were not??
The religious leaders were trying to show that they were godly but Jesus knew their hearts were ungodly!
And what can we note from Jesus’ response? Again, because Jesus is God, His answer will always be right! Let us note, Jesus did not give a yes or no answer! v16-17: the money to pay taxes is marked as belonging to the Roman Empire, thus should go back to Caesar!
In the same way, whatever belongs to God should be given back to God!
Now, the Pharisees and the Herodians were students of God’s Word. What do you think these religious leaders, Bible Scholars, believed belonged to God??
The Old Testament is full of truths stating that everything belongs to God! And so, Jesus challenged the religious leaders not only to pay taxes but for their ownselves to return to God!
How could those religious leaders who were hypocrites return to God??
Take a quick look with me the familiar passage in the Gospel of John Chapter 3, v16-18…..Jesus calls all hypocrites and sinners to return to God by believing in Him!
What does this all mean to us today? May I suggest this statement to summarize the passage: God calls us to live in our current situations but love God first by believing and following Jesus Christ. Therefore, pray and change an ungodly situation if God allows.
And let us memorize and put into action our Scripture of the Week: Acts 5:29 – We must obey God rather than human beings! In other words, if the world is asking us to do something contrary to God’s Word, we must not do it! We must always give ourselves to God! And here’s something to think about on a daily basis: Are the decisions I am making and the actions I am doing everyday have any eternal significance?
In conclusion, here’s something to think about everyday: Are the daily decisions I am making and the actions I am doing have any eternal significance? What is God looking for?