Sunday, October 15th, 2017
Sunday Morning Worship (9:30 AM)
Sermon Text (Mark 12:13-17):
 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk.  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?”  But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”  And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.”  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)
Here in this passage we find yet another group of the unbelieving Jewish religious leaders question the Lord Jesus, and seeking to “trap” Him in His words (v.13). This is a recurring theme in this part of Mark’s Gospel. (See also Mark 8:11; 10:2; 11:27-33; 12:18-27.)
And notice the identity of His questioners – “some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians” (v.13). These are basically members of the same group who began to seek Christ’s destruction all the way back in Mark 3:6, where we read:
“The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.”
Make no mistake, the question that they ask Jesus here in this passage is very much a part of their plan to kill the Lord Jesus. This was no innocent question that they were asking, and it was a veritable mine field, one that they were sure that Jesus would be unable to safely negotiate.
For if Jesus were to answer that it was not lawful or permissible to pay taxes unto Caesar, then the Herodians would have had all the ammunition against Him that they needed in order to accuse Him of sedition against Rome, which would have been a capital offense. And on the other hand, if Jesus were to answer that, of course, it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, then the Pharisees would at the very least have something with which to discredit Him in the eyes of the people.
The Lord Jesus, who knows what is in man (John 2:25), knew full well their “hypocrisy” (v.15), asked them why they were putting Him to the test? In doing so He plainly told them that He knew what they were up to. And yet He still answered their question! And the wisdom of His answer demolished their trap, and left them “amazed” (v.17).
He told them to bring Him a denarius, a Roman coin stamped with Caesar’s image and inscription (v.16). And so He said to them,
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (v.17)
What could possibly be said against such an answer as that? The coins that they used were from Caesar, and so he (Caesar) had a right to require such a tax. However, Jesus answered more than they asked, didn’t He? For He added that we are to render also unto God “the things that are God’s” (v.17).
Just as Caesar’s image was imprinted on those coins, in an even greater sense the very image of God is imprinted in every person. As Genesis 1:26-27 tells us,
 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.”
 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (ESV)
Man is created in the image of God, and so we all owe unto God our very being, our trust, our love, our obedience, our everything! We must render unto God that which is God’s – ourselves. And this is doubly true for all those who are redeemed by Christ. As the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20,
“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, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (ESV)
Believers are not exempt from any and all rightful obligations to the civil government. Rather, we must be good citizens, as the Apostle Peter writes,
“ Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:13-17, ESV)
But our ultimate allegiance must be unto the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in all things. We must give ourselves to God first and foremost. This, of course, was what those Pharisees and Herodians refused to do. They refused to come to Christ to have life (John 5:40).
Our Lord’s answer here in this passage does much more than give us a framework by which to understand the relationship between church and state. Here He teaches us that we who were made in the image of God, and have been bought with a price by the blood of the Savior, must make it our business (even our chief end!), to glorify God in our bodies!
We hope that you will join us for worship this Sunday, as we hear the Word of Christ preached to us from this great passage of Scripture!
Sunday Night Bible Study (6 PM)
We are continuing our study through the great historic creeds and confessions of the church. This Sunday night we will mark the start of a lengthy study through the Belgic Confession!
The Belgic Confession is a time-tested statement of the essentials of the reformed faith, and can be considered as an abbreviated summary of Calvinism (not to be confused merely with the so-called “5 points” of Calvinism). This Confession has been cherished by Reformed believers for over 450 years!
We hope that you will join us for this helpful and informative study. Bring your Bible, bring your questions, and feel free to bring a friend!