As we continue to study the Gospel of Mark, it’s getting closer to the time of the cross. The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in His words. They’re sending delegations of teachers to Him for the purpose of tripping Him up.
Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
This is an interesting group that came to Jesus. Pharisees and Herodians. The Pharisees wanted national independence for Israel. The Herodians were very comfortable under Roman rule. They expected that no matter what Jesus answered, someone would be offended.
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”
The key word here is hypocrisy. It’s really the Greek word for stage acting. Jesus knew that these men were simply playing a part; what they said about Him was not meant in reality. If they really believed what they said about Him, they would have been followers of Christ.
If you think about it, it’s actually something we should take seriously in our generation. It seems pretty easy for us to say things like, “Jesus is my Lord.” Every week we sing lyrics that say, “Jesus, you are my whole life. I give my all to you.”
We need to ask ourselves; do we really mean it, or are we just playing a part – our Sunday morning acting personas? That’s what it means to be a hypocrite. It means that under certain, public conditions, we say things that are not true in our daily lives.
“No! I’m not trying to deceive anyone. I’m just singing the words that they put on the screen.”
Remember, Jesus said that we would have to give an accounting for every careless word spoken (Matthew 12:36). I believe that includes the careless words we sing too.
They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
This is the truth that we all need to hear. If we live in the world, then there are obligations that come with it – taxes, jobs, expenses, and other things as well. The Lord knows about these.
The problem comes in when we voluntarily obligate ourselves to the world. In our generation, we take on too many things that leave no room in our schedules for the plan of God.
We don’t have time for spiritual things because of that night class, soccer practice, movie night, or the hundred other things clamoring for our attention. We can binge watch twelve episodes of our favorite TV show but have no time for intimate prayer with the Holy Spirit.
According to Jesus, we need to get our priorities straight. The time is now for the people of God to live as though Jesus Christ truly is our whole life. Then we’ll see the hand of God manifesting the power that they had in the early church.
Question: How do you reorder your schedule to make more time for developing your spiritual life?
© 2018 Nick Zaccardi