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Daily Worship


March 11 | Mark 12:13-17





Awkward Silence

by Pr. Dave Mann

The setting of Mark 12 is this. Jesus has triumphally entered Jerusalem. In the great city, he is regularly encountering religious leaders who are trying to trap him in his words. 


First, they butter him up, pretending to hold him in high honor. 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. 


The issue on the table this time is a religious-political matter. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay, or shouldn’t we?”  FYI:  the “imperial tax” was levied against people groups conquered by Rome, but not against Roman citizens. Obviously, the tax was not popular in Jerusalem.


Jesus’ enemies think they have him this time. If he says, “No, you don’t have to pay the tax,” then they have grounds on which to get him in trouble with the Roman authorities. But if he says, “Yes, you have to pay the tax,” then the Jewish public, which is seething in anger because of Roman oppression, will abandon their loyalty to Jesus. 


Jesus is not taken in by their empty flattery. He knows that he is not among honest friends. But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” 


Jesus’ response was classic. He cuts to the heart of the matter without encouraging sedition nor laying himself open for public rebuke by the people who were following him. As Jesus often did, he answered the question by posing another question, “Whose image is on a denarius?”  The Pharisees and Herodians were forced to admit, “Caesar’s.” So, Jesus replies, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”  You can just feel the awkward silence that followed. Then, people no doubt started snickering at Jesus' opponents. Gotcha!


As the crowd dispersed, everyone, friend and foe alike, was left to ponder, “Well, if the denarius coins belong to Caesar, what belongs to God?” The same question is posed to us. What do I have that belongs to God? Money, house, relationships, skills, talents, time,...  Everything?  My whole being? Jesus certainly could not have been implying that, now, could he? Or maybe that’s his point? Really? 


Lord Jesus, I start this prayer in the midst of the awkward silence that followed your response to your enemies. I don’t like the feeling that I get when I can identify with Your enemies. I want to be your friend and follower. So, I intentionally welcome your response even when it makes me consider tough questions. Holy Spirit, come into my heart and reveal to me what it is in my life that belongs to you and yet I claim it as mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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1 Comment

Mar 11

Good morning, Pastor Dave.

I love how Jesus Is never taken off guard by the foolish thoughts of man. He is always above the fray and able to pierce the veil of evildoers. So many scenes like this one--John the Baptist "was it from heaven or man"--"whoever is without sin cast the first stone" "is it better to follow the law or heal on the Sabbath"

I am praying about the wise use of our resources. No doubt about it there is tension in thinking about "how much to give". I self justify my decisions because of turning 81 in a few months. What if we have to go to a nursing home at multiple thousands a month? Home health…

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