MARK 12:12



Talking about the religious leaders in Jerusalem and their attitude against Jesus, the Bible says in Mark 12:12-14, “And they sought to lay hold on him, but they feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him and went their way. And they sent unto Him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that you are true, and care for no man: for thou regardest not the person of man, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not?” In these verses once again we see the negative attitude of the religious leaders against the authority of God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the reasons that the religious leaders became corrupted is that they did not understand how to relate to the authorities and the leaders. Unless you are surrendered to God and the will of God, you will never find the right attitude on this earth to authority.


Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not?” The Pharisees did not ask this question of Jesus in order to find out the truth. They were trying to get Him into trouble with the Roman authorities. They were hoping that as a loyal Jew and as a religious zealot that Jesus would say, “No.” We have all heard of the debaucheries and the brutalities of Caesar. Would it not be better to give your money to the work of God instead of to the corrupt and worldly government of Rome? The Roman government will take your money and use it to finance rape and pillage. The Roman government will take your money and pay for the Coliseum and other places of torment and torture, and they will kill innocent people including Christians. Surely Jesus would oppose giving tribute; that is, taxes, to Caesar.


The Bible says in Mark 12:15-17, “Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt you me? Bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he said unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him.” Jesus was not a revolutionary in the sense that He did not foment revolution. The teaching here is very clear. In the order of things on this earth governments are divinely constituted. God wants human beings to obey the laws of the land and to pay their taxes. That does not mean that one cannot go through normal and lawful channels to try and make changes to the law. But it does mean that if you are going to live according to the teachings of Jesus on this earth, then you must be a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen of the country where you live, even if that country is ruled by a corrupt government. The day will come when you will give an account for the kind of citizen that you were, and what part you played in helping to create a stable society. The day will also come when those who had positions in government will give an account for what they did with the authority that was given to them. “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”


This idea of rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s is found other places in the Bible. It says in Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Of course, in addition to governmental authorities, there are other authorities to which the human being must be in submission. There is the authority of God. Render unto God the things that are God’s. One of the reasons that human beings are in rebellion against the godly constituted authorities in the earth is because of the rebellion in their hearts against God.


There are other godly constituted authorities. There is the authority in the home. One of the Ten Commandments refers to that authority. It says to children, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” One of the characteristics of the last days according to Second Timothy 3:2 will be disobedience to parents. Parents should love, provide for, and teach the children; and then the children should honor and obey the parents. How sad when there is a family and the children do not honor or obey the parents. How said when there is a family and the parents provoke the children to wrath.


The authority in the family unit is the parents: both parents, the father and the mother. Speaking to both husband and wife the Bible says in Ephesians 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Both the husband and the wife should submit to each other because each of them are authority figures in the home. They share the power. The husband is a person of authority and power in the home, and the wife is a person of authority and power in the home. That being true, it still does not give the wife the right to be in rebellion against the husband. That’s why Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” In order to be properly under the authorities that God has instituted, every man must ask himself if he is submitted to the authority that God has given to the wife in the home; and every wife must ask herself if she is submitted to the authority that God has given to the husband in the home.   


Jesus answered all of His critics and accusers and enemies in such magnificent and wonderful ways. His words are so powerful. He taught so much in just a few simple words. We remember His words so easily even after all these centuries have passed. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” One would think that His enemies would have learned, but they kept trying to compete with the Christ.


After the Pharisees came the Sadducees. The Sadducees were another Jewish religious group that would be somewhat equivalent to the modernists of our day. The Pharisees were the conservatives: self-righteous, legalistic, negative conservatives. The Sadducees were the liberals: intellectual, unspiritual, and humanistic. The Sadducees thought that they had come up with an argument against the resurrection that could not be refuted. Their argument and the answer that Jesus gave to them is found in Mark 12:18-27, “Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they ask him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If A man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were seven brothers: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them, for the seven had her to wife? And Jesus answering said unto them, Do you not therefore err, because you know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: you therefore do greatly err.”


There are few doctrinal errors greater than that of not accepting the resurrection from the dead. One of the most important things that Jesus taught about was the resurrection from the dead. As a matter of fact, Jesus said about Himself in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead yet shall he live.” How wonderful are the teachings of Jesus: freedom from sin and guilt, the abundant Christian life here on this earth, and all the promises that extend beyond the grave. Because there is a resurrection from the dead, the believers in Jesus have a great eternity to look forward to beyond the grave. Because of Jesus, death is not the end. It is the crossing of the portal into the perfect paradise of peace and honor and glory.


It was very easy for Jesus to refute the notion of the Sadducees, because He knew the scriptures, of course. That is the only way that you will fight off any false doctrine: by the knowledge of the scriptures and by the correct understanding of the scriptures. The Sadducees falsely thought that if there was life after death, that marriage would have to be a part of it. And they also concluded that such a thing did not even make sense because some people have been married more than once, and there would be no way to determine who the lawful husbands and wives were. But Jesus pointed out that the entire basis of their argument was wrong because there is no marriage in heaven. Evidently, marriage is a gift only for this life, not for the next. In heaven God will be our Father, and everyone else will be brothers and sisters, not husbands and wives. If you are celibate, you are already living the way that people in heaven live. By the way, if some religious group ever tries to tell you that they can help guarantee that you stay together as husband and wife in heaven, then you can go to this scripture to see that they are wrong. Jesus said, “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.”


The Bible says in Mark 12:28-31, “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.


Someone asked me recently what are the duties and responsibilities of a believer after being saved. That was an easy answer for me to give because of what Jesus said right here in this passage. The first two things on my list were: 1. Love God with all the heart, and 2. Love thy neighbor as thyself. There would be other things to add to the list such as: 3. Believing the promises, 4. Praying for the lost, 5. Continuing to confess one’s sins, and 6. Doing whatever one needs to do to keep one’s faith strong and to grow in faith. But at the top in every believer’s list of priorities must always be these two: to love God and to love one’s neighbor. If you obey these two commandments, then you will keep all the other commandments also. If you keep all the other commandments, but fail to keep these two commandments concerning love; then you have accomplished nothing.


By the Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul wrote in First Corinthians 13:1-13, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never fails. But whether there be prophecies they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly: but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  


There is a great challenge to the Christian life: a great and high and noble standard. According to Jesus, “The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” How can anyone say that they are not a sinner faced with this commandment? How can any Christian not be humbled in their daily walk, knowing how easily and often they fail at this commandment?


Why is it that God wants us to love Him so? He is a being of infinite love. He loves us and wishes us to love Him in return. How can we learn to love Him so? “We love Him because He first loved us.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” If you do not know God’s love, you can turn to Jesus now and find forgiveness and love.    




Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved