Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Oct- 11- The Hero Doing Battle
September 30 2009 by John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association

Focal Passage: Mark 12:13-17, 28-31, 38-40  

Jesus was a hunted man. Mark writes that a delegation of Pharisees and Herodians came to “entrap (the word means literally to catch by trapping or fishing)” Jesus. They brought to him a question, not for enlightenment, but to test him and to dare him to commit himself on a volatile political issue — the unpopular Roman tax.  

This tax was the poll tax (the Greek word kenson is a transliteration of the Latin census) which was required of every men aged 14-65 and women 12-65. It was the equivalent of one day’s wage or a denarius. It was a tax for the privilege of existing (William Barclay).   

So that we not miss the danger of this issue, David Rhoads reminds us that Rome bled the populace poor with taxes. He writes, “The tribute exacted by Rome was large in itself, Herod’s revenues were huge, used primarily to maintain his court and military troops as well as to support his extensive, luxurious building programs.”  

Taxation was the central issue for many of the rebellions in Judea and the major cause of banditry throughout the countryside (Ched Myers).  

Like the rich young ruler (10:17), the delegation used insincere flattery — “Jesus, we know you tell the truth regardless of the consequences. We dare you to commit yourself in this situation! Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” On the surface, this was a “no-win” situation. But, Jesus replied with another a request and a question — “Whose likeness (icon or image) and whose inscription is this?”  

They knew the answer. It was the head of Caesar, extolling him as “August and Divine Son.” Jesus’ reply was simple and pointed: “Render (or more accurately repay as to a payment of debt or recompense) the one to whom you are indebted.” Jesus turned the discussion on its head and challenged them to act according to their allegiances.  

The question of loyalties arises again with a scribe asking Jesus which commandment is the first of all. This question was a common topic for rabbinic discussions. Jesus responds with the “Shema” from Deut. 6:4f and then added the statement of Leviticus 19:18 (which no one had ever brought together) about one’s obligation to neighbor.  

Ched Myers writes that by using the Leviticus text Jesus was speaking judgement against the religious leadership (and its scribes). The verse from Leviticus 19 defines the love of neighbor in terms of non-exploitation. Sadly, this command was regularly violated by them as evidenced by the moneychangers and sellers in the temple court areas.   

Mark concludes with words of victory — “And after that no one dared to ask him any question.”
9/30/2009 11:29:00 AM by John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association | with 0 comments

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