Engraved On Our Life

Engraved On Our Life: Mark 12:13-17
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday January 17, 2021

All those in the vineyard last week.  The son, the cornerstone, rejected.  The stumbling block of belief.

Jesus the cornerstone, rejected.

Sinful people reject God, that’s what we do

John 3:16-21 (NASB)

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.

18 The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

19 And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil.

20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed.

21 But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds will be revealed as having been performed in God.”

As John Weathersby said last week, “God’s patience is incredible but it is not perpetual.”

God’s kindness is to lead you to repentance.  God’s kindness is to show you the way.

But remember

Their pride is going to keep them from Him

They have rejected the gospel

That is the parable

Proverbs 29:1 – that hardness of heart will only happen for so long until no more chances are given.

Warnings and Instructions

1 A person often rebuked who becomes obstinate

Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.

Mark 12:12 (NASB)

12 And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the people, for they understood that He told the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away.


Jesus Answers the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes

13 Then they *sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement.

We are on Wednesday during this most holy week.  They have listened to the parable of the vine-growers.  This shocking parable that condemns their behavior.  The behavior of their forefathers against all the prophets.  They had sought to seize him, but knowing their cowardly ways, they chose not to incite the crowd.  They would lay in wait for the right time.

And now is another one of those opportune times.  The Sanhedrin is upping their ante.  They are now sending an unlikely group.  Pharisees – the religious ones, and Herodians – the ones who support the Herods and the ruling political system, an odd pairing for sure.  One that would not be found naturally together in the wild.

The pharisees were highly nationalistic.  Sought the return of Israel to its rightful place.  These who did not like the Roman occupation.  And the Herodians, just the opposite.  Supported the Herods, who were put in place and supported Rome.  Two odd bedfellows seeking the destruction of Jesus.

Jesus is their enemy and this odd company has joined together to seek His destruction.  Think about this, Mark 11:18 says they were plotting to destroy Him, and the parable John taught through last week was of a similar variety – they killed the son.

Mark 11:18 (NASB)

18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard this, and they began seeking how to put Him to death; for they were afraid of Him, because all the crowd was astonished at His teaching.

All images of an unholy alliance sent to trap and kill the son of god.  interesting that the words used are those of a hunter, to catch an animal.  Luke 20:20 tells us they were spies, acting like something they were not.  Acting like they were religious seeking true guidance, but they were not.  Acting like they wanted to know the way, but they only wanted to know the way to destroy Jesus.

Luke 20:20 (NASB)

20 And so they watched Him closely, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could hand Him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor.

Rome supporters and Rome haters in league against Jesus.


14 They came and *said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and do not care what anyone thinks; for You are not partial to anyone, but You teach the way of God in truth. Is it permissible to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?

These spies.  These false purveyors of religiosity approach Jesus.  Jesus in the temple.  The tables of the sellers and money changers strewn about.  Refuse of the activity of Annas’ Bazar.  The wreckage of the cleansing.  The evidence of Jesus’ cleansing about them.

And the unholy alliance has come to Him.  Looking like true believers.  Just some people seeking guidance and answers.  Questions of religion and nationalism.  A country under foreign occupation but a country that has deep seated nationalistic tendencies.  The flattering words, sweet, oozing from their mouths.  Words of honey that are part of the trap.  Just believers seeking answers.

We know that you are truthful.  You, Jesus, are a man of great learning,   One who knows the truth.  That’s all we want, just the truth.  These men were obviously not there for the parable.  The one where the son was rejected.  We just want a truthful answer.  Soft words meant to draw him into the trap.  So innocent.

They sweeten the trap by saying the following – defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.  A direct translation, unsmoothed for understanding, says that you do not look at the face of men.  And this perhaps this gives us a better, or at least a more interesting look at the statement.  Not looking at the face, not persuaded by appearances.  So fascinating considering that their motives are bare before Him.  Then finally claiming , from their position, that He is a teacher of the way of God.

Yet they certainly don’t believe this.  These Herodians, these spies, these Pharisees seeking to destroy Him.  Lies clothed in the sweetness of death.  Evil men with an evil plan.

The trap is placed.  The jaws are pressed down and locked into place.  The little plate that holds the bait is ready to receive it.  And they place the bait on a plate.  Can you just answer this question?  Just a simple thing for someone so learned as you.  The man who is not swayed.  The one who is teaching the way of God.  and they gently, with great care, it is laid on the plate.  The jaws straining to snap shut.

Jesus, you know those poll taxes that Romans make us pay every year, you know the one to Caesar, so far away, the one with the occupying army.  We know it is only a day’s wages for a day’s labor, but still, should we or should we not pay this?

From their view, they are using their knowledge of the law to enhance their position.  Turn to Deuteronomy 17:14-15.  The issue is that they have a ruler over them who is not from among their countrymen.

Deuteronomy 17:14-15 (NASB)

14 “When you enter the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you take possession of it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will appoint a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’

15 you shall in fact appoint a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses. One from among your countrymen you shall appoint as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves, anyone who is not your countryman.

There it is, so enticing, this bait.  It can’t fail in their minds.  It is perfect.  A catch 22.  Either way the jaws will spring shut and we will have Him.

If he answers yes, you should pay, then the people will turn on Him since they do not like the occupation.  He will lose all of His support.  He will be finished.  The people themselves may even turn on Him.  But if He says no, then he will be guilty of sedition.  Turning against the occupying government.  And death will certainly follow.

The smug looks on their faces, maybe not the ones in the front, but certainly the ones in the back.  Standing before the Son of God and seeking to kill Him.


15 Are we to pay, or not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.”

Jesus certainly does not see the face of the men to make a decision as they are about to learn.  He looks deep into the depths of their hearts.  Seeing the hardness that lays there.  Barriers of belief.  Their hypocrisy.  Matthew says their malice, wickedness.  Luke tells us that he perceived their trickery, their craftiness.  It will be a trap for them, not for Jesus.

There is only one thing they care about and it is not about God.  It is about getting rid of Him.  Jesus the enemy needs to be gone.  And He knows it.  The evidence of the cleansing of the temple is still there.  And He is looking into their unclear hearts.  Hearts that they sought to conceal with sweet words.

Why are you testing Me.  Why do you continue to try and conceal your true motives?  You Herodians, you Pharisees, you spies.

Matthew 22:18-19 (NASB)

18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?

19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius.

The trap is still set.  Jaws straining to snap shut.  He only needs to take the bait.


Your question is about money, so let’s take a look at it.  Bring me a denarius.  A coin that represents a day’s wage.  A denarius, money that the pharisees would not carry – and we will see why.  They would carry shekels instead.  So perhaps the search for a denarius took a while, or maybe one of the Herodians had one.


16 And they brought one. And He *said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

The coin is brought.  Small but so descriptive of what will happen.  Jesus asks the question of image.  Whose is on the coin.  And they rightfully say Caesars.  And this is the reason why the Pharisees won’t carry it.  They carry shekels instead, copper coins with no image.

Now we will pause for a moment to discuss the coin.  On one side of this silver Roman coin would be the bust of Tiberius Caesar with the Latin inscription – Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus, which means Tiberius Caesar Augustus, Son of the Divine Augustus.  On the other side would be the image of his mother Livia and the inscription , Pontifex Moximus – which means High Priest.

A few things are obvious from the Jewish/Israelite point of view.  Caesar is not divine, nor is he the High Priest.  Both of these things the Pharisees would have an issue with which sets up the question and the trap.  Remember they have addressed Jesus as a teacher of truth and now they have shown their intention.  If Jesus denies that they should pay the poll tax then the Pharisees will hand Him over to the Herodians to be given to the Romans, Pilate.  Then Jesus will be killed for inciting sedition, acts against the Roman government.

This is why the Pharisees have sought an alliance with the Herodians.  They were diametrically opposed in everything else, but in this one area, getting rid of Jesus, they were aligned.  This was their chief goal.  If he speaks against the tax Jesus is a dead man.  If He is for the tax then Jesus will lose favor with the people.  In both instances their problem is solved.

You can almost feel their anticipation.  Wringing their hands in anticipation of the answer.  Vibrating with the anticipation that this three-year journey was over.  That finally this indignant itinerant preacher would be undone.  The one who cleansed the temple three years ago.  The one who had authority greater than them.  The one whom the people sought for healing.  The one who ate with sinners.  The one who usurped their position as shepherds.

Finally, he was in their possession.  He only needed to say what they wanted.  And the trap was laid in such a way that there was no possible escape.


17 And Jesus said to them, “Pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at Him.

In their minds, there was only one of two answers.  Jesus affirms or denies the payment of the tax.  This is it.  The moment they can be rid of Him.

And Jesus gives the answer they did not anticipate.  The truthful Rabbi.  The one who teaches the ways of God.  This answer, ‘give to Caesar the things of Caesar and to God the things of God.’

Jesus makes this statement of ownership.  Not don’t pay the poll tax.  And not don’t honor God. But instead look at the coin.  Ownership is provided by the inscription.  The money belongs to Caesar.  The culture in which they live and benefit is run by Rome.  On the money from Rome.  Hence give back to Caesar what is his.  It is obvious that it is his because the inscription tells them so.  Pay to the government of man what belongs to the government of man.  Therefore, Jesus is not inciting sedition.

But the bigger part of this is giving to God what is His.  This is the greater of the two statements and will sit the Pharisees on their heels.  Give to God what is his?

The Pharisees should know the answer to this.  They should understand.  After all they are the shepherds of the people in all that is about God.

The issue is this.  To those that were there, especially the Pharisees, paying Caesar and honoring God were two things that didn’t exist in the same sphere.  They were opposed to one another.  They were incompatible.

To them paying Caesar was dishonoring to God.  Yet not according to Jesus.  Why?  Look at Romans 13:1.  All authority, what we view as good or bad, is ordained by God.  In other words, this particular ruler has been ordained by God.  To dishonor the ruler is to dishonor God.  Paul tells us in 1 Tim 2:2 that we are to pray for kings and rulers that we live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Romans 13:1 (NASB)

Be Subject to Government

1 Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Romans 13:7 (NASB)

7 Pay to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.

1 Timothy 2:2 (NASB)

2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Jesus is saying that these both are entirely compatible with the greater responsibility to be given to God.  The rulership in Israel, for this period of time, was to Rome and was ordained by God.  They all benefited by the orderly rule.  And if paying a tax did not dishonor God then the tax was to be paid.

Therefore, a rule would be this, if what the government is asking you to do is not contradicted by scripture then proceed.  We, however, need to resist when it is contrary to God’s law.

Because of this relationship that Jesus drew them to, they are amazed.  And they don’t know how to respond.

But what does this mean for us? Is Jesus making a big point about how important it is to pay taxes?  No that is not the point.

Look at the statement – Give to God what is God’s

That is the key.  What is God’s?  Everything.  Including us.

When Jesus makes His statement that is what He is saying.  Everything is God’s.  There is nothing in creation.  That is not His.  If we are giving to Caesar what has his marks on it then since we are image bearers of God we owe are all and all to Him.

Let me say that again.  Jesus says that since the coin is in the image of Caesar it belongs to him.  And since we are made in the image of God we belong to God.

Our lives have been given by God.  Our salvation has been bought by Christ.  That means that we should live a life that is honoring to God.  One that gives back to God.  Look at Romans 6:12-13 we are to give our bodies to God.  Not letting sin reign in our lives.

Romans 6:12-13 (NASB)

12 Therefore sin is not to reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,

13 and do not go on presenting the parts of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead, and your body’s parts as instruments of righteousness for God.

Look at Romans 12:1, presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice.  Again, our lives are not our own.  They are a gift from God.  Bought and redeemed by Christ.

Romans 12:1 (NASB)

Dedicated Service

1 Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Do we realize that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 6:19.

1 Corinthians 6:19 (NASB)

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

If you are a believer are you living in a way that shows who owns you? The Christ who bought you and who cleaned out the crushing piles of trash called sin that gathered in your heart.   All through the cleansing blood of Calvary.

Is your body that temple?

Are you living the life of sacrifice or are you still finding your joy in sin and not in Christ?

Are we living, are you living a life that honors God?

Or are you living a life that honors everything but God?

Are you claiming to be a Christian yet living a life serving the idols of this world?

Do you have the stamp of God upon you?

From the moment you believed have you moved forward in your faith?

Or are you living for the stamp of your business?  Your hobby? Or your political party?

I know so many people who claim to be believers that were you to take a snapshot of their life right now, looking at the social media, what they view, what they say to others.  You would swear that the inscription on their lives is this or that political party.


More importantly, as you sit here today, or listening on line do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Have you repented of your sin and turned to Him?  Have you believed the gospel?

Not knowing the Lord, not acknowledging what He has done, is being in disobedience to our creator.  How can one know that we are God’s handiwork and deny the work of the only son of God.  Not giving back to Him which gave so much to us.

Like those previous passages we give to God what is His when we live our lives as a living sacrifice.  Showing to whom we belong.  Not striving for ourselves but seeking holiness because He is holy.

A life that validates His image engraved on us.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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