We are continuing in the gospel of Mark and we find Jesus on Tuesday of Holy Week (the week of his death) continuing to be challenged by the religious leaders of his day.
3 Simple Questions for individuals and Small Groups:
1. How did the Holy Spirit use this week’s sermon to convict you?
2. How did the Holy Spirit use this week’s sermon to encourage you?
3. What is one thing you will do this week in response to the sermon?
Going Deeper with your group:
Read Mark 12:13-17.
A reminder for groups- This week’s discussion will obviously become more political than usual. Please remember that others in your group will hold differing political opinions. Listen humbly to each other and try to learn from each other. Resist letting your political views become your source of righteousness. And above all else “put on love.”
Some background to our text:
- The Jews were ruled by the Romans and they hated paying the Roman taxes.
- Paying Roman taxes was the reason behind past Jewish uprisings- this was a very volatile issue.
- The Roman coins had an image of Tiberius Caesar on them calling him god, and an image of his mother, calling her the high priest. The Jews hated these coins.
- The Herodians were pro-Rome and the Pharisees were anti-Rome, yet they both teamed up to trap Jesus because they were threatened by his popularity and power.
1. Talk through the attempt by the Herodians and the Pharisees to trap Jesus with their question. What would happen if he said NO to paying the tax? What would happen if he said YES to paying the tax?
What was Jesus’ answer? What makes this answer so controversial for the Jews?
2. Jesus’ answer does several things that have implications for us:
- Jesus separates government from God. Remember the Romans called their ruler a god, even in more recent history we believed that kings ruled in the place of God, and today we often think that our government is “Christian.” But Jesus separates the “church and the state.”
- Jesus’ answer legitimizes the Roman (pagan) government. Human government is legitimate because God makes it legitimate, not because they have power, or won an election, are morally superior, or even meet a need.
- Jesus recognizes that the Roman government has authority but God has ultimate authority.
Which of these thoughts stands out to you? Challenges you? Encourages you?
3. Jesus told the people to obey and pay taxes to the same government that will kill him and the Disciples. How does that inform how you should respond to your government today? See Romans 13:1. What are some of the practical ways that Christians should obey their government even when it is wrong?
4. Pastor Mark said, “As we live in the city of man, let us serve the city of God.” Think about your mindset and attitudes- Are you more focused on preserving America or building the Kingdom of Christ (making disciples)?
5. Jesus’ answer also decouples us from any one nation. Pastor Mark said, “Our faith isn’t about building a Christian nation, but about taking Christianity to all nations.” And “Jesus does not allow us to refer to any nation as a Christian nation.”
How do these statements challenge you? Do you think of America as a “Christian nation?” Is there a danger to this?
6. Jesus said to “give to God what belongs to God.” He was talking about our own lives. We are the image bearers of God (like the coin bore the image of Caesar).
Giving ourselves to God means that we do not make an idol of our government or our political views. Our political views are one of the biggest (if not the biggest) source of self -righteousness that we struggle with today. In other words, it is often our political views that become what makes us feel morally superior to others.
Have you seen this idol creep into your life? How can giving yourself to God more fully free you from this idol?
7. Are there times when giving ourselves to God will mean disobeying the government? See Acts 5:29. When does a government forfeit its authority over us as Christians?
8. Read Isaiah 9:6. One day the government will be upon the shoulders of Jesus Christ himself. How does this encourage you? Give you hope?
9. Read 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Spend some time praying for your government leaders as a group.