April 1, 2011

Saturday After the Third Sunday of Lent, Day Twenty-two


 Lectionary


Morning - Psalm 89:1-19, Genesis 43: 1-5, 11-16, 26-34, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Evening - Psalm 103, Jeremiah 10:1-13, Mark 12:13-17

Mark 12:13-17

And they send 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 thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith 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 marvelled at him.

Commentary

The priests and Pharisees would have gladly taken Jesus to the edge of the city and stoned Him.  But the people who had come with Him into Jerusalem were convinced He was the Messiah, and would have freed Him by force.  Thus, the religious leaders feared the people (12:12).  So they sought to trick Him into saying something that would turn the people against Him.  Divide and conquer.  If Jesus was the Messiah, according to the current Jewish views, He was there to organize the Jews into an army to drive the Romans into the sea.  It is certain that both Romans and Jews were present at this questioning, so any slip of the tongue would result in disaster for Christ.  If He appeared to take a non-aggressive stance toward the Romans, the people would desert Him, leaving Him vulnerable to the attack of the Pharisees.  If He appeared to condone rebellion against the Romans, He could be starting a war that would cost the lives of millions. 

It is a decisive moment for Christ.  One word from Him will bring the Jews to violent revolution.  He could lead them.  He could give them victory.  He had that power.  He could establish a worldly Kingdom without going to the cross.  He could give them what they want, and save Himself all the agony of the garden, the cross, and the grave.  We have to realise that Jesus knew all of this.  Yet He turned not aside from His purpose.  He considered the temptation no more here than He did in the wilderness during His forty days of fasting.  He rejected the opportunity to be a worldly Messiah.  He embraced the cross.

Devotional Thoughts

How do I pray? Pray the Bible.  Does the Bible say we are to be holy as Christ is holy?  Pray for holiness.  Does the Bible say love others as Christ has loved us?  Pray that God will help you love.  Does the Bible invite people to come to Jesus? Pray that millions will come today.  Pray for God’s glory to be known around the world.  Pray that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Christ.  Pray that souls will be saved and lives will be changed.  Pray that transformed people living transformed lives will be as salt and light in their homes and communities.  Pray that the Church of Christ may boldly proclaim His truth.  Pray that its ranks will swell so that all the church buildings in all the earth cannot hold it.  Pray for the clergy and the people, the young and the old the rich and the poor, for all people in all places.