Commended By the Wit of the Argument
Mark 12:13 ¶ Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said.
Mark 12:14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?
Mark 12:15 Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.”
Mark 12:16 And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.”
Mark 12:17 Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
The Pharisees and the Herodians were conniving together to try and trap Jesus. He knew exactly what they were up to and his answer stunned them; “and they were utterly amazed at him.” The only problem is that they, along with us tend to be impressed with the wit of his argument. However, we may miss what he was really saying. We are to give “to God the things that are God’s.”
Are there times we go to church on a Sunday morning and we are blessed by the presentation of the message? Let’s be honest — there are!
Living in an age where the “presentation” is so important, we often look for the “wit of the argument” rather than hearing the real message. What Jesus had to say to those people was truly transformational. Instead of absorbing the message and making it a part of their lives they simply went away impressed with Jesus’ speaking ability.
The challenge for followers of Christ is to not allow the wit of the argument to overshadow the argument itself. What transformational message is Jesus trying to get through to me today and am I listening? What does it mean for me to give to “God the things that are God’s?” Most everything I have in life has been provided to me by God, not by the government. I think of my husband, my daughters and my ministry. It’s all been from God. What about the food I eat? Humans haven’t created food! Everything we eat has been created by the hand of God and we are to be grateful! Even the things that the government provides for us (roads, schools, etc) are made out of the materials created by God. So, while I need to pay homage and respect to the government, I must show even greater respect and worship of the One who created it all! When this happens all of the focus of life is changed. We begin to see the hand of God in all things and we grow in awe and wonderment of the Creator who loves us, his people.
Don’t get caught up in the wit of the argument and miss the whole point of the message. Listen for what Jesus is really saying to you and to me today.
Lord, thank you for ALL that you have created. Amen.