Scripture: Mark 12:13-34
Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar
13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch himin his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, 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 the imperial tax[a] 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.
Marriage at the Resurrection
18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third.22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too.23 At the resurrection[b] whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scripturesor the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’[c]? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”
The Greatest Commandment
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[d] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[e]31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
= = =
Herodians – political party who supported Herod and Rome and had given up many of their religious beliefs to accommodate
Sadducees – had conservative outlook and accepted only the written Law of Moses. Many wealthy Jews were Sadducees or sympathized with them.
While these two sects of leaders hated each other, they found that they hated Jesus even more.
When they questioned Jesus as to whether or not they should pay taxes to Rome, people were amazed when He asserted that you could do both – follow the law and follow God. Jesus walked the moderate road in his answer to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (verse 17).
In verse 18, the Sadducees believed that there was no resurrection and they tried to devise the most complicated what-if scenario. All Jesus told them in reply was that they were badly mistaken. The Sadducees tried to use marriage as a trap, making a Godly institution into a political hotbed.
In our age, we have failed to separate church and state in the case of marriage. We have taken a holy institution and, often, turned it into a political bone of contention.
Of 613 precepts/laws, the teacher who approached Jesus wanted to know what was the most important. Jesus answered him simply: LOVE.
Love God with all of you!
And love others as you love yourself! Love them as if they were your own self to preserve, protect, and thrive.
We are called to obey, to love! Our job is obedience, God’s job is results.
We need to weigh our actions by God’s love. In other words, when we do not know how to respond, we can go to the important two: love God, love others.
If we cannot act in love in our belief, then we need to step aside before we end up using our belief as a cudgel and destroying our testimony as Christians.
We can believe, live in faith, and love. Love supersedes all else we could do!
Jesus had an answer for the teacher of the law and it will always be a right one.
What I want people to see when they look at Christians is the love of the Heavenly Father.
— Pastor Ben Snyder