First off…please remember to check the Prayer Wall and keep the requests there before God. Golda reminds us to pray for the people of Myanmar in Asia.
Secondly, thank you so much for all the support that was shown after my little state of the community fund talk last Sunday. I mean support as in resources, but also so many who said such encouraging things to me personally. It must have been obvious that I was less than comfortable doing that.
Ok…so on to our study. We’ll be covering a lot of ground, vs 13-34 in chapter 12. Read it here.
We don’t know if this is the next day, or exactly when this fits into the time-line…but after Jesus has had his initial confrontation with the leaders of the temple, we then have this section where the religious elite try to corner Jesus three more times, seeking to trap him with questions. We’re going to look at all three of those traps…and we’re going to think about how Jesus evades them…and we’re going to consider ourselves, how WE can avoid the snares of religion on our spiritual journey.
The first section deals with their question about paying taxes, and if God fearing Jewish people are betraying God by paying taxes to a heathen authority. Jesus’ answer is brilliant, and it makes a very important point about loyalty and commitment. What does his answer say to you? What is the most important thing, from Jesus’ perspective (based on his answer)?
In the second section, the religious “scholars” pose an elaborate “theological” question, trying to get him to side with one camp or another, hoping to stir up division based on his answer. What is the first thing Jesus points out to these guys? What is it that the so called scholars of his day were mistaken about in their question? What can we learn from this about avoiding the traps of “religion”?
Thirdly, a less hostile question is asked by someone who really seems to want to hear Jesus’ answer. But all are watching, probably hoping for ammunition to use against him. This is a famous passage, where Jesus employs some real reductionism in his response. Does anything jump out about what Jesus provides as an answer to this possibly complex question? What do you take away from his response?
I came away with three distinct principles that I think are helpful in keeping our focus on the right things, and not allowing religious behavior and the expectations of church subculture from veering our course. I hope it all is beneficial as we unpack it.