When Kingdoms Collide
Today, dear Lord, open my eyes that I may see, unblock my ears that I may hear, sensitize my spirit to Your touch.
Read Mark 12:13–17
13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in 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 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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThink of the Christians today who are struggling under national leaders who usurp God’s power and fail to acknowledge God.
Another day, another test for Jesus (15). After baiting the trap with smooth words of flattery (14), Jesus’ opponents sought to brand him either a Jewish traitor (condoning the hated Roman taxation system) or a rebel (opposing Rome’s right to set taxes). Spin the coin, Jesus: heads we win, tails you lose.
Significantly, Jesus doesn’t possess one of the coins in which the tax could legally be paid (15). The denarius bore the image of Emperor Tiberius (16), with wording ascribing him a godlike status.
In his reply (17) Jesus acknowledges that Tiberius Caesar may indeed have some limited right to rule, but he rejects the idea that his authority is godlike. By contrasting the limited earthly rule of Tiberius with the ultimate rule of God, Jesus prioritizes the latter over the former.
Those who hold authority in God’s world do so as his agents (Rom. 13:1), but when they pervert and misuse that authority they must be resisted. In such circumstances, we must “give to God what is God’s” and “obey God rather than human beings” (Acts 5:29).
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