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“Render to Caesar…” (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
October 23, 2020 4:00 am

“Render to Caesar…” (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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October 23, 2020 4:00 am

Does God command believers to pay taxes? When the Pharisees cornered Jesus with this thorny question, did He side with the government? Learn from Christ’s masterful response when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Jesus often found himself being interrogated by the Pharisees, the gospel of Mark describes several occasions, such as the one will learn about today when these notorious hypocrites tried to sabotage Jesus credibility by posing a politically charged question today on Truth for Life. Alister Greg describes a moment when they wanted Jesus to take sides.

Mark chapter 12 and were going to read from verse 13 and they sent to him.

Some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodian's 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 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, seizures 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 and then we prayed together and I pray that you will help me to speak clearly, you will help us to think properly you help us to believe with the grace and gender belief for your son's sake. Amen. I haven't been watching out of the political debates. I know that many of you do because you mentioned to me. I like debates.

Unfortunately, I don't regard these things as debates, and so it. He asked me to try and watch them and what I did the other day catch a glimpse of one of them actually on the Internet when one of the candidates in responding to his questioner said to the question I am not interested in answering your gotcha questions your gotcha questions are not sure I've ever heard the phrase gotcha question before, but I instantaneously knew what he meant, and partly because I was studying this little section of Mark chapter 12 and recognized in that phrase that is exactly the kind of question that was being proposed here by these individuals who came to test Jesus and this morning as we look at what is. For some, a familiar section I want to trace a line through it by noticing first of all, the approach of these individuals, then considering the question that the rest then considering the teacher's reaction and then finally thinking about their response and hours to this instruction. First of all, then Mark tells us of how the set this up. They had been coming to Jesus we've seen that already seeking to challenge his authority at the end of chapter 11, they'd gone away somewhat dispirited. One would think at their inability to actually catch Jesus out but they had regrouped and they were back not in the same configuration, but they were back as representatives of the previous group and what we are told in verse 13 is that there is an unholy alliance here of both Pharisees and Herodian's you will notice that it says and they sent to him.

Some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodian's. Then they presumably is are those mentioned in verse 12, where we are told by Mark that they were annoyed seeking to arrestees because they recognize that he had told the parable against them and so they then said, well, let's send another little group and see if we can do a better job than we've done before and so this unholy group are then dispatched in the forlorn hope of trapping Jesus of somehow catching him out.

Those of us who are familiar with our Bibles and have been paying attention going through Mark will immediately say to ourselves. This is not really unusual.

This this group of been up to their tricks before and of course if you go back to chapter 3 and two verse six, you will find that on that occasion, the occasion when Jesus had entered the synagogue and there was a man with who was disabled he had a withered hand and Jesus had healed him, and on that occasion. Verse six of Mark chapter 3 it says the Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodian's against him how to destroy him.

So here we have the resurgence of the commitment on the part of this group, to finally silence Jesus they are actually working out the prophetic statement of Sam to the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and that is exactly what we find happening here the strange bedfellows are united in their opposition to Jesus, the Herodian's from a kind of political base and the Pharisees from an ecclesiastical Laura Moore theological base are amalgamated in their desire to finally destroy Jesus Christ and we recognize that that perspective is not unique to the time of the New Testament and when we read history and as we experience a contemporary history, we find that this notion is emerging again and again a combination of both politics and theology in order to silence Jesus Christ in order to make sure that this story of someone dying for the sins of mankind is finally silenced once and for all. This notion that the name of Jesus is the only name under heaven among men by which someone might be saved. We find ourselves reading our newspapers and watching as the story unfolds as politics and theology to combined to say we want to be done with that story and we want to be done with that Jesus. That is exactly what is taking place here and you will notice that Mark tells us that they were very specific insofar as they were hoping to trap in in his talk.

Now they would be so bold as to think that he could catch the teacher out. That is exactly whether hoping to do.

Incidentally, you will notice that the address in there in verse 14. As teacher or as Rabbi because the one thing that they were unable to gainsay was a find that he was a remarkable teacher and by the people kept saying again and again as we read the gospel after we had finished the sermon was over they went out, saying to one another.

This fellow is a remarkable teacher. He teaches with authority we can understand what you say.

The disparagement was represented in that vis--vis the Pharisees themselves was something that he couldn't miss them so they commonly refer to them in that way for those of you are interested in stuff like this. The verb did ask her which is to teach come 17 times in the Gospel of Mark, and on 16 occasions it refers to Jesus, the noun comes 11 times, and on every occasion it refers to Jesus so they get a designation correct on the teacher our rabbi, but you will notice another question wasn't prompted by a desire for instruction. They weren't good pupils. They weren't the kind of people that you like to have in your chemistry class who is actually asking a question because they are seeking to come to a sense of understanding. Unfortunately, many of you have had pupils like me in your class who is asking a question in order to delay the proceedings as long as possible so that we get out as quickly as possible led kind of pupil is represented here in these characters who come to him know you will notice that they set him up for an answer in in a very obsequious way. Their approach is one of flattery.

We know teacher that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion for you not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.

This is a wonderful example of how to say the best of things from the worst of motives.

What I say is true, what this is accurate, it is well said.

But the thing that gives the lie to. It is their motivation. They are saying these things, but if they really believe them, they would've become the follower of Jesus if he truly was true, and taught the way of God, and they were committed to the way of God than they would have said you teach the way of God. We want the way of God. Therefore, we will become your followers know they knew that he taught the way of God. They paid lip service to the way of God.

But when he came to the crimes they didn't want to do the will of God. That's that's not an unusual perspective.

Incidentally, I feel tell me all the time. One very committed to the way of God. And then you point out the specific instance for what it will mean to be obedient to God in his own order, no I don't want to do that. I'm just sort of generically interested in the way of God, but not specifically interested in the way of God right now for my marriage over my morals or for whatever it might be so. The approaches of Augustinian Lord, make me pure, but not tonight. I'm interested in the way of God, not as it relates to any specific in my life than you're not interested in the way of God, teacher, we know that you are this we know that you're not that we know that you're the next thing.

And here we are.

While they were right to point out that he wasn't swayed by appearances because he certainly wasn't swayed by their appearances was a is an irony in that, for you are not swayed by appearances, Jesus, and under his breath. You got that one right.

You think today you're going to come with all that a flowery language and and and unsettled me and they were right to acknowledge that he had told the truth without fear or favor what they're saying to them when they say, is that when they say we know you don't care about anyone's opinion, is not that we know that your dismissive and haven't got any interest in what anyone else has to say no there saying we know that you are in partial that you're not like the politician who licks his finger holds it up, find out what way the wind is blowing and then decides that that's exactly the way in which he is going know Jesus you're impartial you're uninfluenced by these things. We know that that's their approach. Secondly, there question get to it.

If you like okay thank you very much get to it while the question is there is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not, should we pay them or should we not all, this was a hot potato. This was a diorama.

The paying of taxes, I think, is historically a diorama controversy regarding the payment of tax is apparently a perennial issue and some have a great deal to say about it all the time so we find here in the first century that the same thing was going on I was forced to pay the tax. Really not supposed to pay the time Jerome had levied a tax on Judea in A.D. six and as a result, it made it clear to the Jews who were part of the Roman Empire by subjugation that they were actually subservient to the Roman Empire because everything they had to pay their tax it revealed the fact of their subjection.

If either was one of the ways in which the couldn't fail to realize that they were under the thumb of Rome. Some within the community were known as zealots. Their party was if you like the party of turbulence, the party of no compromise, the party of saying since the Roman Empire is something with which we disagree.

We will therefore not pay taxes to the Roman Empire.

They were on the one side the Herodian's politicos and the Pharisees. The logs had determined a way to compromise with the circumstance so as to be able to justify, at least in their own minds. How to pay the taxes to Rome without actually compromising their convictions. Interestingly. Into this will return before we finish at least one of the members of the discipleship man was actually a member of the zealot party, at least in the past know what happens in this is not dissimilar to what happened before except that on the previous occasion when they'd sought to challenge the authority of Jesus. He had put them on the horns of a dilemma by asking them remember is the baptism of John, from heaven, or is it from earth and realized were trapped because it week. There is there's no way out of this one. And so, remember the said we don't know pathetic response in the nail, they all went home there determined that another to do that this time and so they been far more specific and they are determined to get from Jesus yes or no for an answer. In other words, they're not going to put him on the horns of a dilemma and you will notice the way in which the question is asked and is well put here in the ESV is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not yes or no. Should we pay them or should we not yes or no is a bit like these are these questions that are flying all around of the political realm of the moment, and then you got the dance that starts because no one is able to come up with a categorical answer.

Interestingly, this is where motivation comes in. By the time these characters were accusing Jesus before Pilate before his crucifixion. When they go before Pilate to accuse Jesus and this is recorded in Luke 23 verse two. This is what they say.

We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding eyes to give taxes to Caesar that was a flat out lie. He never did that at all. But you see, their motive was to destroy it as soon as that became foremost in their thinking. Then there was no law to which they were unprepared to stoop in order to achieve that objective. Okay, so their approach is insincere.

There question is a hot potato. Then thirdly, notice the teacher's response. The teacher's response, Jesus responds with two questions and a statement. First of all a rhetorical question, you will notice that there why put me to the test.

Why put me to the text. Here we go were going back down the same old road how wide you say that turnover one page in your Bible to chapter 10 in verse two and Jesus left there he went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan and the crowds gathered to him again and again, as was his custom, he taught them in the Pharisees came up and in order to test and asked is it lawful for man to divorce his wife to test them. The asked right so when Jesus says here in chapter 12. Why do you put me to the test is essentially saying he's going to keep doing this. Don't you realize that I faced.

If you like the ultimate test. When the very outset of his ministry. He's led into the wilderness and he is tested he is tempted by the evil one, and in the course of that dialogue. Jesus says to do to the devil. You shall not put the Lord your God to the text in here they are in the genesis of this is always with the evil one. Their hypocrisy is an indication of that Jesus had no time for religious hypocrisy. He confronted it again and again. Woe to you Pharisees.

He says hypocrites your hypocrites.

He condemned them right for their insincerity and the reason he did so was because he recognized that it had its foundation in the antagonism of the evil one who lies behind the plot to destroy the Lord Jesus Christ. So in this first rhetorical question why put me to the test. I wondered if Jesus is actually pointing out the futility of whether attempting then he follows it up with a practical question, the Roman denarius was a small silver coin similar to 1/4 both in terms of volume and size. Perhaps a little smaller. It was accepted as payment of taxes in Judea. Why put me to the test bring the brain examined her coin. There is anything other than area since as some is is you either either one flip it to him he takes it he says me look at it and he looks at it. They brought one and he said hey who's likenesses on this and whose inscription is on this turning them back and forth, presumably, and they said to him, Caesar's actually at this point in history Tiberius Caesar Augustus, and on the denarius coin was this designation with his face, son of the Divine Augustus.

So in other words, this god with a small G that was represented on the client was the son of further divinity, and on the back. There was a designation of him seated on a throne wearing a diadem and clothes as a high priest, and it actually said on the reverse of the client, the high priest okay so far so good, whose likeness and inscription is this, they said to him, Caesar's.

Orestes is going to say. Picture the scene as he says yes.

Text pay the service and what he says is exactly what he says. It says render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, whatever he has to.

Are you supposed to pay the tax or not, should we pattern answer yes pay the tax. Don't allow the five that you know the phrase render to Caesar all the things that are Caesar's, you know from watching it on the black and white TV. Don't let it obscure what he said and asked the question was posed to pay the tax or not said yet pay the tax.

Now I must've absolutely excited and immediately Jesus is saying I don't really give any place to the zealots going to try and run a country within the country.

I'm not allow any of you guys to hang me with the notion that because you don't like what's going on. The Roman Empire human pay the taxes anymore.

There are privileges involved in being part of the Roman Empire. There are responsibilities involved in being part of the Roman Empire part of the responsibilities and paying the tax. Therefore pay the tax before their questioners have the opportunity to run down the street shouting. He said yes he said yes he said yes. He immediately follows up and to God the things that are God's listing to Truth for Life. Alister Briggs titled the study in Mark chapter 12 render to Caesar each of the stories we read. As we work through Mark's gospel help us grasp better the truth of God's word making these principles both engaging and memorable.

Storytelling was a method Jesus often used and the gospel writers played these stories back to us in order to help us understand what it means to trust and obey God.

Well, I'm pleased to tell you about a creative storytelling film that Truth for Life is making available today.

This is a documentary that portrays the Puritans. Their unparalleled love for God and commitment to his word. The film is called Puritan all of life, to the glory of God.

This DVD tracks the Puritan movement from its beginning, introducing faithful men and women through the centuries who left their mark on history and who even died. In some cases for their faith with beautiful camerawork and insightful input from pastors and scholars.

This film will help you come to know who the Puritans were what they believed and how their influence continues to this day we hear from people like Elmore, like JI Packer and other scholars who contribute to this conversation, they explain, among other things, how the Puritans abandoned their fears and pursued the glory of God with all their hearts as per your copy of this documentary on DVD called Puritan when you give a donation today to support the ministry of Truth for Life. If you prefer to stream the documentary there is a link included with the DPP call us at 888-588-7884 or visit Truth for you can also request this resource directly through our mobile app over the weekend. Remember, you're invited to complement the teaching you receive from your local church by watching Alister teach the Bible online at Parkside church to check Alister's teaching schedule for this Sunday go to Truth for on Bob Lapine for Alistair Begg and all of us the Truth for Life. You have a relaxing and refreshing weekend. Hope you can join us again Monday as we continue our study of the Gospel according to Mark today's program was furnished by Truth for Life for the Learning is for Living

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