Our services have officially started! In addition, we are live streaming our sermons through YouTube (Christ Baptist Mokopane) and we’ll also continue to upload a pre-recorded audio version of the same message for those who can’t stream or make it to the services!

The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting.

Click here: Mark 12:13-17, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Mark 12:13-17, for the video feed, and follow the notes below. May the Lord speak into your hearts as you worship.

Mark 12:13-17, Rendering to God:

  • Consider the following quote, ““The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master.”” This compliments our theme this morning as we look at Christ’s words before us. In the context of our study in Mark, it is Wednesday of Passion Week. It is days, hours, before the crucifixion of our Saviour.
  • Our chapter began with a parable that Jesus told about a man who owned a vineyard and rented it out to vine growers to care for it. And when harvest time was due, he sent a series of slaves back to collect what was due him. And you remember, they brutalized the slaves. They crushed the head of one. They killed others. Every slave he sent they maimed or murdered.

 

  • Finally in the story, the owner of the vineyard sends his son and they killed his son. Jesus by that parable is saying that this has been the history of Israel. Israel is the vineyard of God. God assigned that vineyard to stewards who were to care for it. The stewards who were the caretakers of the nation Israel killed the prophets, everyone that God sent to them, and now they will kill the son.
  • Now the leaders are there when He tells the story, along with a massive crowd in the temple yard during Passover week. Everybody hears the story and according to verse 12, they all know what it means. They all know that He’s talking about the murder of the son. They all know that He’s referring to these leaders. The people get the picture. They know the leaders have hatred toward Jesus. And the leaders know that they’ve been exposed.

 

  • In spite of all this, they were still bent on leading the nation to join them in the rejection and the execution of Jesus. Now, as we come to verses 13 to 17, it is still the same day. And the people were all there, and the leaders were there as well, and Jesus was teaching a lesson on giving to God what we owe God.
  • Therefore, this morning we’ll look at the caution or trap of not rendering to God, and the obedience in rendering to God:

 

  1. The Trap of Not Rendering to God:
  • Text – 12:13-17
  • Explanation – What was originally a trap, becomes a lesson that reveals the delusion we may live under; and that is self-entitlement. The notion that I don’t owe anyone anything, the world owes me! Except for SARS, they make sure they get what is theirs.
  • And perhaps tax has always been this way; none of us want to pay it, yet the government gets it from us. So the Pharisees & an opposing group to them, the Herodians, double-team to take Jesus down in this approach.

 

  • Illustration – “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?”
  • Mark tells us that their goal was to “trap” Jesus. Through flattery and an appeal to theology, they sought to destroy Him. But Jesus did not fall for it. Rather, like so many times before, and so many times after, Jesus trapped them.

 

  • The text tells us that they were “sent” to Jesus. From where and from whom were they sent? They were sent from the Sanhedrin, or at the least, from representatives of the Sanhedrin. Having failed to trap Jesus in the previous encounter, they now sent others to try to do the same. But the combination of these two groups is ironic!
  • You see, the Pharisees were the ‘holy ones’. The Herodians were Jews who were for the Roman rule. They were despised for this, especially by the Pharisees. But with the enemy of my enemy being my friend, these two groups teamed up.

 

  • One commentator notes that the Pharisees hated [Jesus] because he was disrupting their religious agenda, the Herodians because he threatened their political They both wanted him dead.”
  • We see the formation of this unholy alliance in the account of Jesus who healed a man with a withered hand in Mark 3:1-6. So early on in Jesus’ ministry, this partnership had already began. Here too, the plan was to trap Jesus.

 

  • The word translated “trap” is used only here in the New Testament and it means “to hunt.” These people were hunting Jesus like one would a wild animal. They desired to expose him before the people of Israel. They desired to have him killed. And, frankly, it didn’t matter to them at whose hands.

 

  • Application – Now, they had the same intentions as Proverbs 29:5, “A man who flatters his neighbour spreads a net for his feet.” They didn’t care about what he taught. And they were not interested in the truth. This was an attempt to trap Jesus in His words.
  • Yet, Jesus saw right through this. He would not take the bait, immediately recognising their “hypocrisy” (v. 15). As in the words of Psalm 119:110, “The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts.” It means despite all the temptations Jesus encountered, He remained true to God’s Word.

 

  • So finally, the question to led Jesus to His demise. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” And just to be sure he was clear about the question, they added, “Should we pay them, or should we not?” The idea behind this question was that “allegiance to God and to Rome are fundamentally incompatible.” Because God is holy, and the Rome rule was pagan.
  • Therefore the Pharisees were hoping that Jesus would answer in the affirmative, which would perhaps cause the crowd to forsake him. The Herodians were hoping he would reply with a negative for then they could make the case that Jesus was a Zealot. And this would give cause for the Romans to see Jesus as a threat, leading to his arrest and death.

 

  • Now before we deal with this, there are some things you need to understand about taxes in the 1st Taxes was a poll tax imposed on those in Israel about 6 AD. When this tax was introduced and enforced in 6 AD a serious revolt followed, led by Judas the Galilean.
  • So if Jesus was in any way associated with a revolutionary group who opposed paying taxes to Caesar, surely the authorities would quickly put it to an end. Jesus seems to been between a rock and a hard place. How would he answer?

 

  • Conclusion – verse 15-17. It was not a simple yes or no, which meant that they were not able to use it against him. But further, his answer served as a rebuke and provides us with a lesson on rendering to God
  • This is because Jesus saw right through their attempt and, by questioning them, He rebuked their deception. And once again displayed amazing authority as He said: “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” Jesus was not going to answer with a simple yes or no, for the coinage itself answered their question.

 

  • The denarius was the standard silver coin minted by the Roman Empire, introduced around 230 BC. Its value was equivalent to a day’s wage. The denarius of Jesus’ day had, on one side, the image of Tiberius Caesar, and underneath it said, “Tiberius Caesar Augustus Son of the Divine Augustus.” On the other side of the coin were the words Pontifex Maximus, which was a claim to the highest religious priesthood.
  • Jesus turned the tables on them. By commanding them to bring him a coin, he was also making a point that, since they had this coin, they had actually answered their own question. After all, if they were using Caesar’s currency, how could they refuse to give it back to him?

 

  • They, and not Jesus, were the ones trapped. Jesus asked, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” He was asking the simple question: “To whom does this coin belong?” It is like borrowing a book from someone and forgetting to whom it belongs, until you open the cover and find the name written on the first page. Jesus was doing the same thing here
  • Jesus then commanded, with great authority, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” The word translated “render” means “an obligation for services received.” It can mean to return. Jesus was saying that, since the coin belonged to Caesar, they should give it back to him. If they were going to use Caesar’s money, they would have to pay the price.

 

  • Jesus recognised this practice and the principle that, if a person is going to benefit from the services of that which stands behind the currency, of course the beneficiary should pay up. Give back what is owed. He was laying a foundation here for what the New Testament writers would later build upon: that there are duties to governments that do not infringe upon our ultimate duties to God.

 

  • Bridge – you might not enjoy paying tax, but you do appreciate driving on paved roads, having street lights, etc. Therefore we have an obligation to render that which is due. But instead, we look for ways to cheat the system. We think of ways to avoid rendering as a whole.
  • Our children don’t want to render to their parents what they ought. The working class to not want to render the hours that are expected of us. Husbands & wives do not want to render to each other the love & service they’re supposed to. And what’s more, we certainly don’t want to render to God what we owe Him!

 

  1. The Solution of Rendering to God:
  • Text – 12:17
  • Explanation – We don’t only owe Caesar; we also owe “to God the things that are God’s.” See, where the coin bears the image of Caesar, it means that it belongs to Caesar. Man bears the image of God, and so we owe our total allegiance to Him.
  • In fact, Christ’s answer reveals that the coin truly belongs to God. Why? His main concern was to lift their eyes from Caesar to God. He wanted them to render to God what was his. Furthermore, we honour God when we appropriately honour Caesar.

 

  • Illustration – Therefore, let us consider three ways we through which we render to God:
  • 1) Sacrifice; Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). We owe urselves to God. Paul says we have been bought by a price, therefore you are not your own. To render to God through sacrifice means to renounce any form of self will to God’s will.

 

  • 2) Obedience; there is something greater than sacrifice, 1 Samuel 15, and that is obedience. And Christ Himself is the greatest illustration of obedience to God. He “humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death” (Philippians 2:8). By obedience to Him we are through Him made partakers of His salvation (Hebrews 5:9).
  • How do you render to God through obedience? You partake in daily communion of Him. You love, care & serve His church. You show up for Bible Study, for Prayer meetings, for worship services. You obey Him because His Word calls you to.

 

  • Application – you say, but ‘I’m tired’, or ‘I’ve had a busy week’. Or, ‘I’ve got something else to do’. Friends, don’t think that this participation calls for sacrifice. Because this is what obedience looks like. Obedience is to serve God His way and not the way you might think you want to.
  • You owe God obedience, therefore you must sacrifice if you ever hope to obey Him. You owe your participation in the church to God. I’m not taking about your financial offerings because again, those are sacrifices. I’m talking about obeying Him and His word!
  • and 3) Perseverance; which can also be known as endurance. It refers to standing firm! We owe it to the Lord to keep on pressing forward! When we encounter hardships or suffering, when we don’t feel like participating, obeying, or sacrificing; we need to remain faithful & true to our calling in Christ.
  • Paul’s life consisted of many sufferings and hardships. James appeals to Job as an example of those who had persevered. Job’s experience mirrored perseverance. He remained steadfast under very difficult situations.

 

  • Remember the parable of the sower, those who hear and produce a crop stand in contrast to the other types who fall away in time of trial, for they do not remain constant in adversity. The lesson here was to be encouraged to produce fruit “for the long haul.” Therefore those who do persevere show their confidence in God’s goodness and care.

 

  • Conclusion – so submit to God’s will. Matthew Henry says: “If professors of the gospel carefully render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s, and if all teachers taught the way of God in truth, without being respecters of persons, they would soon put their opponents to shame and silence.”
  • And when in doubt, remember whose image is stamped on you—and whose is not. Edwards writes, “If coins bear Caesar’s image, then they belong to Caesar. But humanity, which bears God’s image, belongs to God!”

 

  • Bridge – Therefore let me close with a last observation, “And they marvelled at him.” Jesus spoke authoritatively about Caesar, the most powerful political figure of the day, and he spoke for God, sovereign over all. Jesus is God and yet, He obeyed earthly responsibility & rendered to God that which is His, and more – His very life! How will you respond?