Truth Triumphing Over Traps

This Sunday we’ll be reading Mark 12:13-34 as we continue our study through that gospel.

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 again, seeking to trap him with questions.  We’re going to look at all two of those traps…and we’re going to think about how Jesus evades them…and we’re going to consider some important truths that get revealed as he dodges those snares.

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 does v27 reveal to us about God’s mission priority?

The third encounter Jesus has doesn’t appear to be a trap…rather, it’s a moment of agreement. 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? What does it say to you, if anything, that we have this moment of agreement between Jesus one one whose company have been identified as Jesus’ enemies all through this gospel? Who in your life might be someone who “isn’t far from the Kingdom of Heaven”?

We also have a baby dedication this Sunday – and I get to pray over my newest Grandson! Hope to see you Sunday!

Debters

Image result for taxesBeing not too far out from the old April 15th deadline I’m guessing we’ve all paid our taxes for the year, or at least made some sort of arrangement to.  How do you feel about paying taxes? I’m thinking most of us don’t have too much heart ache about it being we’re a democracy and receive various benefits as a result..What if though, tomorrow Russia came in, forcibly took over our country and demanded we pay them tax as the reward for having stolen our land?

That was pretty much the scenario in Israel when Jesus showed up on the scene.

In our text this week Jesus will be answering a trick  question posed once again by the Pharisees, regarding taxes. He’ll be talking about our responsibility to the kingdoms of men and also pointing out our more significant debt to the kingdom of heaven. We’ll see how, according to him, they’re very much interrelated..  Matthew 22:15-22

Our text opens up with the Pharisees again plotting against Jesus.  All through the book of Matthew the Pharisees have been the ones openly opposing him. They were the bible scholars of their day, yet their religious convictions and self proclaimed righteousness actually prevented them from seeing and cooperating with God.

How might we fall into that same trap? Do we feel the need to argue with or criticize those who don’t agree with our views on politics, worship style or alcohol consumption? Or even worse, do we question their acceptance by God given their view on less essential issues than the core truth of Jesus as Lord? What can we do to make sure we’re cooperate with God’s priority of loving him and his people?

Since the Pharisees couldn’t trip Jesus up with any of their questions on the law, they teamed up with basically their enemies, the Herodians who were pro- Rome in a political tact to oppose him…

In vs 17 we find their ill-willed question regarding paying taxes or not. On the surface it appears to be a loose, loose question.. If Jesus says yes they should pay the tax, the crowd who expected him to overthrow the government at any moment, would have been severely disappointed..If he says no, the Herodians would turn him over to the Romans for treason..Jesus in his infinite wisdom appeases everyone. Well except for the Pharisees who were hoping for the worst.

In pointing to Caesar’s image on the coin denoting his ownership of it, we can draw a parallel to God’s image inscribed on our hearts pointing to his ownership of us.

We as Christians are citizens of both heaven and earth with responsibilities to both kingdoms…Do you see paying taxes as a heavenly or earthly responsibility? Does Romans 13:1-2 shed any light there?

How might this principle effect our work performance? The way we go about doing business in the community or pay our other debts?

What about the other debt Jesus mentioned? After addressing the debt to government Jesus added AND render to God what’s God’s..What do you perceive as your debt to God? If you’re a parent what’s the one thing you want more than anything from your own children?

What is the most important thing you have given them?  Science substantiates that love has the potential to facilitate healing and overall wellbeing.  Has knowing the immense love God has for you affected your life in a positive manner? How so?

It should be a challenging and encouraging study. Looking forward to digging in together!