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Welcome everyone and welcome online guests.
This morning we are picking back up in our study of the Gospel of Mark.
This morning we are continuing our study in the Gospel of Mark.
If you’re new to MCF, it would be important for you to know what we practice a form of preaching called “Expository Preaching”. What that means is we believe the Bible is best taught by taking a book of the Bible, and then studying it from beginning to end, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, in order to understand what it means in our lives today.
With that said, we are currently walking through the Gospel of Mark, a Gospel written primarily to tell us the good news of who Jesus is, what he came to do, and what it means for you and I to follow him.
The word Gospel literally means “Good News”, and Mark’s Gospel was written primarily to tell us the good news of who Jesus is, what he came to do, and what it means for you and I to follow him.
With that said, we are currently walking through the Gospel of Mark. A Gospel written for three purposes. First, to tell us who Jesus is. Second, to tell us what He came to do. And third, to teach us what it means for you and I to follow Jesus.
So, if you are new to MCF, I would encourage you to go online to marysvillefellowship.com or download the MCF App from the app store where you can listen to all the Mark messages leading up to today.
Intro to message.
As you may recall, we in the final section of the Gospel, a section called the Passion of the Christ. A section that recounts the final days of Jesus’s life as he heads for the cross.
You may recall we started the final section of this Gospel a few weeks ago, a section titled “The Passion of The Christ”. A section that will detail and highlight the final days of Jesus’s life on earth.
And it’s in these final days that Jesus will engage the religious leaders of his day in seven combative rounds of interaction. Interactions that are aimed to discredit Jesus and hopefully bring an end to Jesus.
As we come back to Mark’s Gospel today, we are coming to round four of these encounters. So just to make sure we are all on the same page, let’s quickly recount these encounters.
Round 1
You may recall round 1 started in the Temple in Jerusalem as Jesus disrupted the ritual temple worship. The disruption resulted in Jesus flipping over tables, running people out of the temple, blockading doors, and accusing the religious leaders of criminal behavior. As we learned, Jesus’s actions were symbolic and represented God’s new way of salvation through faith in Jesus. It was out with the old and in with the new.
Round 2
Round 2 took place the next day as Jesus once again entered the temple. This time it was the religious leaders who were on the offensive. Still angry over Jesus’s actions form the previous day, they approached Jesus and asked him, “by who’s authority are you doing these things?” In other words, “Jesus, who do you think you are?” Their hope, to discredit Jesus in front of the people and disqualify his teaching. But their plan backfired on them as Jesus uses a common form of rabbinic debate and answers their question with a question. The question was, “Was John’s teaching from God or man?”
The question caught the religious leaders off guard because there was no good answer that would work in their favor. If they said John’s teaching was from God, they would be in essence legitimizing Jesus’s teaching. But if they said John’s teaching was from man, they could lose face and popularity with the people who viewed John as a prophet. So instead, they told Jesus they didn’t know. So Jesus said, “Since you can’t answer my question, I can’t answer your question”. And with that Jesus wins round 2.
Round 3
Last week we looked at round 3 as Jesus went back on the offensive. With the subject of authority still on the table, Jesus tells a parable, a story that is meant to teach a spiritual or moral lesson. And in this particular parable, Jesus tells the story of a man who owned a vineyard and leased it out to tenants to take care of the vineyard. A story everybody would have understood.
But Jesus’s story had a twist as Jesus begins to tell a dark tale. He tells how every time the owner of the vineyard sent a representative to check on the vineyard and collect the profit, the tenants would either beat or kill the owner’s representative. Something that would have been shocking to those listening.
Finally, the owner sent his son thinking that surely the tenants would treat his son with respect. But instead of showing respect to the owners son, they killed him as well.
As a result, the story ends as the vineyard owner comes to the vineyard, kills the tenants, and gives the vineyard to somebody else to tend. Probably not a story you want to tell your child at bedtime. So, why did Jesus tell this story?
And as we learned, the purpose of the parable was meant to highlight the spiritual journey of Israel. Because for centuries God had sent his representatives to the people of Israel. The representatives were the prophets of old. Men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and man others. Men that came on behalf of God, with a Word from God.
But the people of Israel didn’t want to listen to anything the prophets had to say. So instead of listening to them, they threatened, beat, imprisoned, and even killed some of these prophets.
And now finally, in the present day, God has sent his very own son. But sadly, like the prophets, Jesus would be rejected as well. Like the prophets, the people of Israel were going to reject Jesus and kill the son. Something that was only days away as the people of Israel would soon cheer for his execution and crucifixion before Pilate.
As you can imagine, the story didn’t set well with the religious leaders. Recognizing that the story was about them, they left angrily plotting how they could kill Jesus. And so Jesus wins round 3.
Round 4
As we come back to Mark today, round 4 is about to begin, and once again, the religious leaders are taking the offensive.
So, in order to set up this next round and help us get our minds around where this next encounter is going, I want to begin by asking you to consider a few opening questions.
As an American citizen, have you ever considered not filing or paying your taxes?
In other words, have you ever considered to buck the IRS and not comply with Federal and State tax laws?
Now, you might be thinking, “Pastor, that’s an odd question. I mean, why would I do that? Isn’t that called “tax evasion”? I mean, I could get in a lot of trouble for doing that, right? Maybe even go to jail. So, why would I purposely refuse to file or pay my taxes?”
Fair question, because you’re right. You could get in a lot of trouble for not paying your taxes. So, let me ask you a second question:
Since you’re afraid of getting in trouble if you don’t pay your taxes, does that mean your ok with the government using your tax money to fund programs that you don’t believe in or agree with?
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.
Since you’re afraid of getting in trouble if you don’t pay your taxes, does that mean your ok with the government using your tax money to fund something like, planned parenthood?
Whether you realize it or not, there is a portion of you tax dollars goes to an organization called “Planned Parenthood”. An organization that supports, promotes, and performs the abortion of thousands of unborn children every year. In fact, last year alone, planned parenthood performed just over 328,000 abortions.
So, that being the case, let me put the first question another way:
What are you more committed to or concerned with? Paying your taxes so you don’t get in trouble with the IRS? Or protecting the lives of unborn children by refusing to contribute your tax dollars towards abortion?
Now, at this point you might be thinking, “Pastor, why would you ask me that question? That’s a hard question to answer. Because if I say I’m more committed to paying my taxes, you’re going to say, “So I guess your ok with paying for abortions?” But if I say I’m more committed to saving children by not paying my taxes, I risk going to jail. Pastor, that’s not a very fair question. Why are you putting me in this moral dilemma?”
In other words, are you ok with your taxes funding abortions? Are you ok that part of your paycheck is going towards taking the life of a baby?
The reason I ask you to consider this question, isn’t so we can debate abortion this morning. I ask it because as we come to this next combative interaction between Jesus and the religious leaders, the religious leaders have a similar type of question for Jesus. A question that is meant to back Jesus into a moral dilemma. And depending on how Jesus answers the question, a question is meant to do one of two things. To either destroy his moral stance as a righteous teacher, or get him in trouble with the local authorities and put in jail.

13 yAnd they sent to him some of zthe Pharisees and some of zthe Herodians, to atrap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, bwe know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For cyou are not swayed by appearances,3 but truly teach dthe way of God. Is it lawful to pay etaxes to fCaesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing gtheir hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why hput me to the test? Bring me ia denarius4 and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, j“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

13 yAnd they sent to him some of zthe Pharisees and some of zthe Herodians, to atrap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, bwe know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For cyou are not swayed by appearances,3 but truly teach dthe way of God. Is it lawful to pay etaxes to fCaesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing gtheir hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why hput me to the test? Bring me ia denarius4 and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, j“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

13 yAnd they sent to him some of zthe Pharisees and some of zthe Herodians, to atrap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, bwe know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For cyou are not swayed by appearances,3 but truly teach dthe way of God. Is it lawful to pay etaxes to fCaesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing gtheir hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why hput me to the test? Bring me ia denarius4 and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, j“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

So, what’s the question? Let’s find out as Mark introduces us to this next encounter. Beginning in verse 13, Mark writes:
“And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar's.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they marveled at him.” (ESV)
Since you’re afraid of getting in trouble if you don’t pay your taxes, does that mean your ok with the government using your tax money to fund programs that you don’t believe in or agree with?
The question on the table is, “Jesus, as a person who stands for truth, morality, and righteousness, is it right to pay taxes to a government that does not?” That’s the question.
Our Goal
So, with that as our basis, here’s what I want to do this morning.
First, I want to take a few moments and walk through the passage and give some explanation as to why these religious leaders are asking this particular question.
Second, I want to look at how Jesus handles the question.
Third, I want to ask the question, “How does this apply to our lives?” In other words, how does this interaction apply or relate to our relationship with God and Government.
Here’s what I want to do this morning. First, I want to take a few moments and walk through the passage and give some explanation to why this particular question is asked, so we can understand what is going on. And second, I want to discover how this interaction applies to our lives. In other words, when faced with a similar situation or question, like the abortion issue,
So, let’s begin as we dive into this passage.
Mark begins by telling us that a group of Pharisees and Herodians have approached Jesus. So, maybe a good place to start would be by identifying who these two groups are.
God wants us to trust him.
The first group is a religious sect known as the “Pharisees”. We’ve run into this group before throughout the Gospel of Mark. The Pharisees were the religious teachers of the day, and in many ways had become the religious police as well. While they loved God, they had lost sight of the love of God. They had lost sight of God’s concern for people. And as they result they had become wrapped up in rituals, law, and casting judgment on those who didn’t live up to their religious standards. On more than one occasion Jesus had chastised this group, and even going as far as to call them hypocrites.
As a result, the Pharisees were not fans of Jesus and were working hard to discredit him.
The second group was a group known as the Herodians. They are mentioned twice in the Gospels and as their name indicates, they had close associations with the house of Herod. You might ask, “Who is Herod?” Well, it depends on what Herod you are referring to. First, there is Herod the Great. This would have been the Herod that tried to kill baby Jesus. The Herod that the Wise Men first came to when they came looking for Jesus.
But there is also Herod Antipas. Antipas was the son of Herod the Great. And during the days of Jesus, Herod Antipas was one of the governors appointed by Rome to rule Israel on their behalf. And like his father, he was a wicked man and was the one responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist.
So, back to our question, “Who were the Herodians?” The Herodians were Jews who had aligned themselves with the rulership of Herod. In other words, politically speaking, they were on the same page with Herod and supported his authority.
So, the question then is, “Why does Mark mention these groups by name?” Why not just say, “Some opponents of Jesus approached him?”
The reason Mark gives us these details is to highlight how hated Jesus was. Here’s what we need to understand. The Pharisees and Herodians were not friends. Their religious and political views were in direct opposition to one another.
Let me explain it like this.
In our day, politically, the Pharisees would have existed on the far right of the Republican Party. They were the ultra conservatives who wanted less government and more God in the culture. They’re favorite radio show would have been Rush Limbaugh.
The Herodians on the other hand are on the other end of the spectrum. They are the ultra socialists. They’re for big government, and while they believed in God, they had put more hope in the humanistic and political system of their day than a divine being. They’re favorite cable news station would have been CNN.
So, by giving us this detail, what Mark is showing us is, that while divided politically and religiously, these two groups agree one one thing. They agree Jesus is a problem. And at this point, for them, the enemy of my enemy is now my friend. So, in an effort to destroy Jesus, two opposing groups join forces in order to discredit Jesus.
This should be a great reminder to all of us, that serving Jesus will never make us friends with the world. In fact, serving Jesus will unite the world against us. Listen to how Jesus describes it in
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (ESV).
So, now that we know who the opponents are, what happens next? Mark tells us:
So, now that we know who the opponents are, what happens next? Mark tells us, 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.” (ESV)
14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.” (ESV)
Mark says upon approaching Jesus, they begin their attack with insincerity and flattery. In other words, they begin by trying to get Jesus to relax his guard. In a way, it’s a form of manipulation.
You’ve probably had this happen to you at some point. Someone you know that doesn’t care for you, approaches you, and then gives you a bunch of compliments, and in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “This person is full of it. They can’t stand me. What are they up to?”
Same thing is happening here. These two groups despise Jesus but in order to try and catch him off guard, they begin their attack with flattery. And we know this because Mark says that’s the case. Mark says they approached Jesus in order to “trap” him.
The word for “trap” here means to snare. It’s the same word that’s used when referring to catching an animal in a trap or a fish with a hook. They’re goal is to trap Jesus and the worm they are using is their flattery.
So they say, “Jesus, we know you’re the kind of person that says what he thinks. And not only that, we know you don’t let anybody intimidate you. And because you’re a man of God, we know, no matter what, you’re going to hold to the teachings of God. Jesus, you are a holy man.”
So, now that the worm is on the hook, the Pharisees and Herodians cast their question out to Jesus. They go on to say:
Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” (ESV)
Empty words
In other words, “Jesus based on fact that you are a moral and righteous teacher. Based on the fact you teach the Bible. Jesus tell us, ‘Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar?’”
So, what’s going on here? Why this question and how is it meant to trap Jesus?
In many ways, this question is similar to the question Jesus had asked them concerning John the Baptist. Remember, Jesus asked them if John’s teaching was from God or man. And for the religious leaders, there was no right answer. To say it was from God worked against them and to say it was from man worked against them. So they’re answer was, “We don’t know.” And it made them look like fools.
In a way, they’ve posed the same type of difficult question for Jesus. Because in their mind there is no good way for Jesus to answer this question. Why? For two reasons.
First, the tax to Caesar they are referring to was an annual census tax, and it was hated by the Jews. You might be wondering, “Did they hate it because it was a high tax?” No. The tax was only a day wages. So, if you made $15 an hour on an 8 hour say, your tax would have been $120 a year. Not a lot to lose sleep over. So, why did they hate the tax?
They hated it because of what it represented. It represented foreign domination. It reminded them they were captors of Rome. In addition to that, it had to be paid with a Roman coin that bore an image of the emperor with an offensive inscription. The inscription on the coin said, “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus, the son of god.
So, in a way the Jews were being forced to recognize Caesar as some sort of divine being, and they hated it. For them the coin was like an idol.
So, here’s the problem for Jesus. If he says, “It is lawful to pay tribute to a false god”, then he risks upsetting the people. He risks discrediting his righteous standing before the people. Because remember, at this point many of Jesus’s followers believed he is there to deliver them from Roman occupation. That’s why they are following him. So, to promote tribute to Rome would have been offensive to the people.
Second, not paying the tax was not an option. To not pay the tax would result in imprisonment and possibly even death. So, if Jesus says, “It’s not lawful to pay tribute to Caesar”, then he risks getting in trouble with the Roman authority. And you can be sure, if Jesus said, “Don’t pay the tax”, the Pharisees and Herodians would have been tripping over each other to go tell on Jesus.
So, this is the trap they’ve set. In their minds, there is no way for Jesus to get out of this. They have him backed in a corner. So, how does Jesus respond? Mark tells us.
“15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? (ESV)
Mark says Jesus is no fool. He knows what they are trying to do. So he calls a spade a spade and says, “Why are you playing this game?” And then Jesus does something they’re not expecting. Listen to what Mark tells us:
15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar's.” (ESV)
Instead of answering their question in the way they expected, Jesus instead sends them on a mission. He says, “Go get me the Roman coin used to pay the tax so I can look at it.”
I’m sure at this point the Pharisees and Herodians could hardly contain themselves, because it would appear their plan is working, so they run and find a coin.
It’s at this point that Jesus poses a question to them. After brining the coin to him, Jesus says, “Whose picture is on the coin and who is the statement on the coin about?” And they say, “Well duh Jesus, it’s Caesar’s image and the statement is about him.”
And it’s at this point that Jesus throws them a curve ball. After looking at the coin, Jesus then says:
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they marveled at him.” (ESV)
Jesus says something they don’t expect. Jesus basically says, “Well, since it has Caesar’s image on it, and since the statement is about Caesar, then it must be Caesar’s coin. So give it to him.” And then he adds, “…and to God give the things that are God’s.” And with this statement, the Pharisees and Herodians don’t know what to say. They are stunned.
So, what’s going on here? What is so astonishing about Jesus’s statement? What about this statement gives Jesus the win?
This is where the application for you and I comes in. Because buried in this statement are some universal principles concerning God and Government, that not only applied then, but apply today as well. Principles that the Pharisees and Herodians couldn’t deny. Principles that you and I need to live by. So, what are these principles? They’re are two of them.

PRINCIPLES FOR GOD AND GOVERNMENT

God expects us to submit to the laws of the land.
Jesus says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” (ESV)
It might surprise us to hear Jesus say that. Because it would almost appear he doesn’t have a problem paying tribute to a false god. But if that’s what you’re thinking, then you are looking at this strictly from a human perspective.
The truth is, we often forget that nobody is in authority unless God allows them to be in authority. Listen to what the Apostle Paul has to say about this:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (ESV)
In this passage, Paul makes two surprising statements concerning our response to governmental authority.
First, he says, “Let every person submit”. Notice he said, “Let every person”. Not some people. Not people who only agree. Not just Democrats. Not just Republicans. But every person.
Meaning, that includes Christians as well. He also said, “be subject to governing authorities.” The word for “subject” means, “to obey or submit to orders.” The picture here is of a group of soldiers falling into line.
Subject - to obey or submit to orders.
Second, he says the reason we should obey is because those authorities have been instituted by God. The word for “instituted” here literally means, “to place or determine.” In other words, they are there because God has placed them there.
Instituted - to place or determine.
So, what does that all mean? What that means then is, the reason Donald Trump is President and Hillary Clinton isn’t, is because that’s what God wanted. What that means is, the reason Sam Brownback is the Governor of Kanas is because that’s what God determined. The point is, nobody has authority by chance or even because you voted for them. They have authority because God ordained it.
And what that means is, they are God’s delegated authority. Through them God’s perfect will is being accomplished.
Even Jesus testifies to this. Listen to how Jesus responds to Pilate when Pilate lords his authority over Jesus. Jesus says:
“You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (ESV)
Jesus says, “Pilate, the only reason your Pilate is because God has allowed you to be.” Bottom line, governing officials have authority because God gave it to them.
So, what does that mean for us? It means we have no alternative than to obey. Why? Listen to what Paul goes on to say:
“Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (ESV)
Paul says for those who choose to disobey God’s appointed authority, you are disobeying God, and you can expect judgment. What kind of judgment? Listen to what Paul goes on to say:
“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (ESV)
Paul says refusal to submit to God’s delegated authority results in God’s wrath administered through the authority. In other words, when you resist those God has placed in authority, you are resisting God, and you will suffer the consequences.
Now, you might be thinking, “Pastor, has Paul lost his mind? That can’t be right!” Well if Paul has lost his mind, Peter has as well. Listen to what the Apostle Peter says about this:
“Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (ESV)
The point is simply this, God expects us to follow the laws of the land. He expects us to honor those in authority.
Now, I know that raises all kinds of questions. Questions like, “What about tax money going to abortion or other immoral acts we wouldn’t approve of. Shouldn’t we stand up? Shouldn’t we protest?” You can. But here’s what’s going to happen. Conduct like that isn’t going to lead anybody to Jesus. All conduct like that does is harden unbelievers hearts towards Jesus. And second, you’re going to end up in legal trouble. Better to obey the law. Better to pray for than protest governing officials. Better to be like Jesus who submitted himself to the law of the land.
Now, I will say this. That does’t mean you can’t have an opinion. For example, you can have an opinion all day long on gun control. But the minute there is a law that would limit your ability to buy a certain gun, then you are to submit to that law. I hate it, but if they decided to make AR-15’s illegal, I’m going to have to give up my AR-15. While my flesh would say, “Bury it in the backyard and hide it.” My Spirit says, “Obey the law”.
Now, you might be thinking at this point, “Pastor, are you saying I should do what the government says not matter what? What if I’m told to do something sinful?” Here’s where you can draw the line. The only time we are released from obedience to government is when it tells us to sin.
For example, if the government ever instituted a law that forced you to deny Jesus as Lord, then you don’t have to obey that law. That law would be in direct violation of God’s perfect will.
Now, you might say, “How is that different than taxes going towards abortion? Pastor, isn’t abortion against God’s will?”
It’s different in the sense that you can’t control what the government does with your tax money, and God doesn’t expect you to. And if your’e going to go down that road, then don’t ever take a Disney vacation, because Disney supports gay rights. And you better stop paying to watch movies, because Hollywood supports all kinds of sinful activities you would be against. And you better bet rid of your iPhone because Apple supports gay marriage. Do you see what I’m saying?
The truth is, it’s a complicated subject, and we don’t have time to cover every scenario, but the bottom line is this. As long as your not being asked to personally sin, God expects us to obey the laws of the land and render to Cesar what is due Cesar, regardless of what Caesar does with the money.
Now, you might be thinking, “Well, by giving that answer, didn’t Jesus give the Pharisees and Herodians what they wanted? Aren’t the people going to be upset with Jesus because he’s supporting Roman taxation? Aren’t they now going to see Jesus maybe as being immoral?”
Had Jesus stopped there, then yes. But he didn’t stop there. Jesus had more to say, which leads us to the second principle of God and Government:
2. Submit to the laws of the land, and while you’re at it, submit yourself to God.
Jesus goes on to say:
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” (ESV)
Jesus now turns the table on these religious leaders. Up to this point, their focus has been on that coin and the image on it. So Jesus basically says, “Since the coin has Caesars image on it, then it must be his coin, so if he asks for it, Give Caesar his coin back. But while you’re at it, give to God what is his as well.”
Now, where did that come from? The religious leaders weren’t expecting that response. In fact, Mark says they marveled at Jesus’s answer. So, the question then is, “Why did they marvel? Why were they so amazed at Jesus’s response?”
They were amazed because Jesus didn’t give them one answer or the other. Instead, in this one statement, Jesus condoned obeying the law while at the same time obeying God.
Think of it like this. The original question was, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” A question that was meant to trap Jesus into one of two answers. To either support paying tribute to Caesar or not. And in their minds it’s a no win for Jesus. Either answer gets Jesus in trouble. If he supports taxes, the people will be upset because Jesus is supporting tribute to Caesar and thereby dishonoring God. If he doesn’t support taxes, he’s breaking the law and risking imprisonment or death.
So, what is Jesus’s answer. His answer is, “Do both”. His answer is, “Yes, pay the tax and honor Caesar, but also give God what is his and honor Him.”
Can you imagine the look on the religious leaders faces when Jesus said this? This is why they marveled. They were expecting Jesus to choose one answer over the other. But he choose both. Jesus said, honor Caesar and honor God all at the same time.
So, what does that mean? What is Jesus getting at and how is that even possible?
To answer that question, we have to answer another question, a question most of us would never think to ask. Because through this statement Jesus is pointing to a Biblical truth. A truth the religious leaders hadn’t considered. So, what question do we need to ask? The question is, “Just like Caesar has his image on his possession, in all creation, what unique possession of Gods has his image imprinted on it?”
Think about that for a moment. In all creation, what is it that bears God’s image? How about this, Genesis 1:26:
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (ESV)
The fact of the matter is, as God’s unique creation, we are image bearers of God. His image is imprinted on us. And by making this statement, what Jesus is saying is, “Go ahead and give Caesar his coin. But in addition to that, in order to honor God, give God what is his as well. And what God wants is for you and I to fully give ourselves to Him, heart and soul.”
How do we do that? We do it through our relationship with Jesus. Paul puts it like this in :
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (ESV)
Paul says when we put our faith in Jesus, God’s Spirit comes in us and not only are we his possession at that point, we are his image bearers. As Christ followers, we are his official image bearers.
Here’s Jesus’s point, “Paying your taxes isn’t going to dishonor God. No, that’s actually the right thing to do. Its’ the law. What’s going to dishonor God is if you don’t represent who he is. What’s going to dishonor God is if you act like a revolutionary. What’s going to dishonor God is if you live your life contrary to His will. What’s going to dishonor God is if you resist governing authorities. What’s going to dishonor God is if you don’t represent Him well. Because at the end of the day, you are His image bearer. You are his representative. What people come to know and believe about God will be displayed through you.”
And with that the religious leaders marveled. As should we.
Here’s what this is saying to you and I:
In the world we live in, it’s really easy to get caught up in the political landscape.
It’s really easy to become angry with the direction of our country.
It’s really easy to bash elected officials.
It’s really easy to get upset about abortion.
Its’ really easy to get upset about gay rights.
It’s really easy to get upset when laws are passed that we don’t agree with.
And in those moments it’s really easy to get upset and voice our opinion and protest these laws. To get on Facebook and tear people apart. To post scriptures about God’s wrath against mankind. It’s easy to do that. And I get it. It’s easy to do and I’ve done it as well. And while it’s fine to have an opinion. What’s not fine is if your opinion, attitude, and actions misrepresent the one whose image you bear.
So, back to our abortion example. I don’t like it anymore than you do that part of my tax money goes to planned parenthood. It actually makes me sick. But there’s nothing I can do about that. I can’t control what the government does with my tax dollars, and I have to obey the laws. But, here’s what I can do. First, I can trust that God is in control. I can have assurance that regardless of what the government does with tax dollars, that in the end, God’s perfect will will be done.
Second, I can focus on becoming the kind of image bearer that will honor God and win people to Jesus.
Think of it like this, if your’e a Christian standing outside an abortion clinic holding a picket sign, how affective do you think that is going to be in winning somebody to Jesus? In order to win somebody to Jesus, how affective will it be on Facebook to run down Planned Parenthood, Oprah, CNN, Hillary Clinton or some other official you dislike. How many people do you think you’ll win to Jesus through those kinds of words and protests?
Dare I say none. But what if you acted like a true image bearer of Christ? What if you exhibited love instead of hate. What if you exhibited faith instead of fear. What if you elevated kindness over contempt. What if you choose both. To honor others while at the same time honoring God.
Do you think that could make a difference? Do you think that could have a different affect? I do. In fact, I think it would leave people marveling.
It would leave the gay person marveling as you showed them kindness when other Christians have only shown them hate and disgust.
It would leave the woman who had the abortion marveling while you show her love instead of judgment.
It would leave the woman who had the abortion marveling while you showed her love when other Christians have exhibited judgment.
It would leave your Facebook friends marveling as you respond with words that put out fires instead of igniting fires.
It would leave your Facebook friends marveling as you respond with respect instead of contempt.
Do you see where I’m going with this? So many times we think the answer is to choose a side. We think the answer is one or the other. But sometimes the answer is both. Sometimes the answer is honor others as you honor God. Sometimes the answer is, honor others by being an image bearer that represents Jesus well.
And that doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything the government does. It’s ok to be bothered with Row versus Wade. It’s ok to be bothered that a cake store is forced to shut down because it won’t bake a cake for a gay couple.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have a say. You can express your opinion. You can mark the ballot. Perfectly fine.
But what it does mean, is at the end of the day, the way you conduct yourself, the words you use, and the attitude you display will either represent Jesus or it won’t.
So as we close this morning, here’s my question for you.
What kind of an image bearer are you?
When it comes to how you respond to what you don’t agree with. When it comes to expressing your views, beliefs, or opinions to others. When it comes to how you respond to your employer or anybody in authority over you. Maybe even when it comes to obeying the laws of the land. Do your words, attitude, and behavior represent the image of Jesus? Would your actions and reactions cause people to marvel?
The best way to voice your disapproval of your tax money going to abortion isn’t through protest, it’s through the love of Jesus. It’s through you demonstrating the image of His son through your actions and attitude. Its’ you being Jesus in order that you’re witness bears the image of the true King.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be the kind of image bearer that causes people to marvel. That causes people to say, “I wasn’t expecting him to say that. I wasn’t expecting him to treat me like that. I wasn’t expecting him to show me that kind of respect.”
I want to leave people marveling as they see something in me that isn’t me. I want them to see the image of God’s Son imprinted on my soul. An image that says, “Jesus Christ, Son of the living God.” An image that invites them into a relationship with a savior.
So, again, as we close, what kind of image do you bear? What do people see in you? What do your words, actions, and behaviors towards others say about the image you bear? Does the image of Jesus in you cause others to marvel?
What will make you a better image bearer of Jesus?
And if it doesn’t, what steps do you need to take to make some changes? What attitude needs to change? What behavior needs to be adjusted? What law do you need to start obeying? What person do you need to extend an apology to? What Facebook post do you need to delete? What is keeping you from becoming the image bearer God has called you to be?
As the worship team comes, would you bow your heads with me.
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