Serving Jesus in Our Community

Bible Notes

Mark 12:14-17 (02.07.24)

Photo by Jordhan Madec on Unsplash

Mark 12:14-17(NIVUK)
14 …Is it right to pay the poll-tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?’
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked. ‘Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’
‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
17 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’
And they were amazed at him.

This was a trap. If Jesus said yes, he would be accused of being disloyal to the Jewish people by being a collaborator with the Romans who occupied the country and would benefit from the taxes. If he said no, however, he would be accused of being a rebel. Jesus is wise to this, and wise to the risk of getting into a non-nuanced debate. Some today would do something similar and separate faith and politics and either keep them apart or pit them against each other. Jesus would resist this too. Instead he asks a question, which on the face of it (pun intended) suggests they should pay their taxes as part of their daily discipleship, but there’s a twist. To the Jew, the graven image on the coin would be seen as blasphemous, as would the inscription accompanying it, which talked about the emperors as divine. Jesus is saying both that we should respect the state and should pay our taxes, whilst at the same time challenging its transgressions.

Father, help us to learn from Jesus’ response to be nuanced and wise in our relationship with ‘the state’, to support it as good citizens, and yet challenge it when its ways clash with yours.

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