Mark 12:13-27 13 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.
18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
Here in the Temple, days before His crucifixion, Jesus battles the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Sadducees. Different groups that were at odds against each other united in their attack to defeat Jesus of Nazareth and the wisdom of God. Jesus had publicly declared to all that He was the Christ as the people worshiped Him on Palm Sunday as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. Before these enemies of God would unite in blood to kill Him they attempted to defeat Jesus through their words. These were experts in the Old Testament scriptures. They had different views and interpretations and yet were very persuasive among their followers. And yet none of them could trap Jesus in all their attempts to make Him less than what He claimed. Jesus was indeed the Christ- the perfect sacrifice who came to take away the sins of the world but no one at this point understood what He would yet do.
The Herodians were loyal to King Herod- the family of figurehead kings that were appointed to rule over parts of Israel in the time of Jesus. The Pharisees added all kinds of laws on top of the Old Testament Law. These Herodians and Pharisees united in trying to trap Jesus. They thought they could defeat Jesus if they could prove that He was against the Roman government. They tried to trap Jesus with a question about taxes. They first flatter Jesus to try and get Him to let down His guard and to trust them. But Jesus cannot be tricked. He cannot be deceived. Jesus replies with the wisdom of God by simply showing them a coin with the face of Caesar. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The people who were watching marveled at the simple and clear explanation of submission to civil authority even if the people wanted to be free from Roman rule. The Herodians and the Pharisees were silenced and put to shame. Jesus responds perfectly in every situation. He is worthy to be praised!
Next up were the Sadducees. They thought they could make a fool of Jesus by proving their view of the ridiculousness of the resurrection of the dead. They used a scenario of a woman who marries a man and is widowed. She remarries his brother but each time she again is widowed after marrying all seven brothers. In the minds of the Sadducees if there was a resurrection of the dead there would be no way to determine who was her husband. But Jesus points out their lack of understanding of the eternal state. For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. In the eternal state, those who are born again by the Spirit of God will be united to Christ in the union of Christ and the Church. Jesus could not explain this in full to the Sadducees at this point who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead at all so He then goes on to prove their error again in a simple but profound way: by describing the words of God to Moses at the burning bush “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” By speaking in the present tense Jesus makes it clear that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive after death.
There was no question that Jesus could not answer. There was no way that Jesus could be tricked or overcome. He is perfect in every way! The Christ has come! Just think if you were in the Temple when Jesus was debating with these experts who attacked Him with their best arguments. The true versus the false was revealed. There is an absolute truth as is seen in the person of Jesus Christ. No one who witnessed these conversations would question the authority and wisdom and the truth that was to be found in the words of Jesus. He was above any opponent that came against Him. Many people don’t believe there is absolute truth. Many people believe that we must believe the experts of the world but the only source of true wisdom and Truth is revealed in the Word of God. Jesus reveals that He is the Truth in the life that He lived. This final confrontation in the Temple shouts this loud and clear.
Do you marvel at Jesus? Are you amazed at His Words and His actions as He walked upon this earth? Do they impact you today? Is He everything to you? Or are you trying to argue with Him as these great men once did? Are you trying to defeat Him and claim you are greater than Him? To become a child of God we must submit to Jesus. We submit to His every word. Jesus must become our ultimate authority. He is the one that we look to first for help in our time of need. He is our rock and our guide. We stand upon Him. We trust Him and we love Him.
But if you have not yet come to a place of submission to Him, examine His life. Examine who He really is. Don’t take someone else’s word for who Jesus is. Examine the Scriptures and decide for yourself. If you truly read about the life of Jesus with an open heart and without prejudice you will marvel! You will see that He is God in the flesh! You will see that He came to this earth to save you by dying on the cross in your place if you will only repent and believe!
Pastor Murray Hack