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Give to Caesar or God

Then Jesus said to them,
“Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s

and to God what is God’s.”

And they were amazed at him.
– Mark 12:17 (NIV)

Some people sought to trap Jesus.  He knew it from what we learn within the Gospel of Mark.  Just look at verses 13 and 15.  He knew their hearts, their hypocrisy, and their intentions.

This discourse comes right behind Jesus sharing the parable of the tenants who slayed the master’s son who was innocent.  That sent a pretty strong message to those who could discern its underlying meaning.  After all, the Lord did say: “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

That spells it out.  If taxes and other matters of this world are part of how we are to obey authority, give it to Caesar or the feds, whoever may be in power.  Obviously, Jesus was not into that form of insurrection.  He said for us to give it to Caesar.  Yet, He also shared that we should give God what is His.

What is God due? Is it just tithes and offerings? Is it just our praise? Is it more than that?
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
– Mark 12:34, NIV

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And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Jesus was the ultimate master of the teachable moment.  We see that a lot in the Gospel of Mark.  Through encounter after encounter, we are given bits and pieces of what the Lord came to accomplish through his earthly ministry.  Yet, we also see how he handles the short-sighted thoughts of man.  He deals with the limited faith and other aspects of mankind throughout His ministry.
Have you do something to “offend one of these little ones?” I mean, let’s be honest.  You know that you can cover a wide range when it comes to how you might “offend” others.  Watch your ways with others with your feet (where you go) and with your eyes (what you see).  Watch it! You may lead someone else down the wrong path with you.
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FYI: Our Sunday S.I.C.L. class will resume in Room 210.  See you there!
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Mark is an intriguing account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Even the world outside of Christendom has a point of view and perspective on the Gospels due to the fact that Jesus is such an intriguing character.  Look at what PBS says about the Gospel of Mark.

Our last class spent the bulk of its time period with a focus on the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark chapter 9.  The online reference site www.about.com has the following “analysis” of these sections of the Scriptures:

The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 9 – Analysis and Commentary

The ninth chapter of Mark starts out with one of the most important pre-passion events: Jesus’ transfiguration, which reveals something about his true nature to a select inner group of apostles. After this, Jesus continues to work miracles but includes further predictions about his coming death as well as warnings about the dangers inherent in giving in to temptations to sin.

Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:1-8) – Analysis and Commentary

Jesus appears here with two figures: Moses, representing Jewish law and Elijah, representing Jewish prophecy. Moses is important because he was the figure believed to have given the Jews their basic laws and to have written the five books of the Torah – the basis of Judaism itself. Connecting Jesus to Moses thus connects Jesus to the very origins of Judaism, establishing a divinely authorized continuity between the ancient laws and Jesus’ teachings.

Reactions to Jesus’ Transfiguration (Mark 9:9-13) – Analysis and Commentary

As Jesus returns from the mountaintop with the three apostles, the connection between Jews and Elijah is made more explicit. It is interesting that this is the relationship focused upon most of all and not the relationship with Moses, even though both Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain with Jesus. It is also interesting that Jesus refers to himself here as ‘Son of man’ again – twice, in fact.

 
I posted this as “analysis” because you have to consider the source.  Don’t get caught up in what the world has to say about Jesus or His Word.  When you see Newsweek and National Geographic, even Time Magazine, making references to Jesus and His ministry on earth, keep in mind the perspective from which they view Christianity and its followers.

What does the Word itself say about Jesus?

Use biblical references such as sites and software for analysis and commentary to assist you in your research once you have read and studied the Word itself.  These do not replace a thorough study of the Scriptures.  Include a view of a chain reference such as Thompson Chain Reference Bible available as a smart phone app and with some Bible software.

At some point, Christians like us will need to have a perspective on the importance of our belief in the accounts of the life of Jesus provided to us through the Gospels.  If we profess and confess Him to be Lord and Savior, the Son of God, then we should be able to point to what confirms our belief in the Scriptures.  IDK (I Don’t Know) just will not do for us if we are trying to win souls for Christ.

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In reading the Book of Mark, I try to keep in mind one major aspect of Bible observation methods; who is speaking to whom.  I try to keep that in mind from two perspectives:

  1. Who is (John ) Mark writing to as the author sharing with an intended audience?
  2. Who is speaking in the biblical text and who is it directed to as a listening audience?
Let’s look at the second point.  Look at the end of Mark’s chapter 8.

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31 (NKJV)

Who is the them who He began to teach? The disciples of Jesus? The Twelve? The multitudes and the disciples? Who is them in this context?

Then, after you find them, go to the passage that reads: When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (v. 34).  We now have a full view of who He (being Jesus) is talking to at the end of the chapter.  Read it so that it can be understood.

No amount of theological school or seminary will ever wipe out such fundamental study practices like this.  It should be seen as necessary for basic Bible study to be conducted in such a manner to gain an understanding of what is actually happening within the text and who is actually involved, not who is assumed to be involved in it.

As we enter into chapter 9 of Mark, let us continue to keep our eyes attentive to what we read in the text.  See who is involved and how so.  Otherwise, we may start making some errors in interpreting what occurs from verse to verse, even in a straightforward biblical book like Mark.

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Looking Back in Mark

Read Mark chapter 1 again.  Read that part between verses 16 through 20, the part where Jesus called them and they responded.  Look at verses 18 and 20.

Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.– Mark 1:18
Jesus called them.  They left their nets.  They left their fishing boats and gear.  They left everything to follow Him.
That was early during the Lord’s ministry.  That was before He called them together as the Twelve and gave them power over unclean spirits.  That was way before Jesus fed five thousand or four thousand with fish and bread loaves, leaving baskets of fragments each time.  That was even before Peter spoke up and claimed Jesus to be the Christ.
In fact, that was even before Peter spoke up and said: “We have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10:28).
Jesus could have called them on their initial response to His calling them.  He could have said: “Whoa, y’all! Wait a minute.  I thought you wanted to hang out with the Messiah.  I thought you wanted to be part of the change that’s taking place.  Was that not real?” He sure could have said that to them.
What could he say to us?
Yo, ________________ (Insert Your Name), whatever happened with that stuff you said about it being about just you and I from here on?
Was that real or just something to say?
Let me know.



Yours truly,   Jesus (the Christ)   Think about it.  It doesn’t make Jesus any less powerful.  He still has power and authority.  We just end up looking bad due to our failure to keep our promises to Him.  When we look back, can we have enough faith to stick it out and hang on a little longer with Jesus?   Or, do we have to get Jesus to rebuke us right after He gets done with the wind and the waves?

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Read what the Word says about bread.  It will stimulate your imagination.  Bread is a symbol of sustenance.   Our Lord’s model prayer mentions the giving of daily bread by the Father.

The relationship with bread is throughout this section of the Gospels.

Think about these questions as we enter into Mark Chapter 8. . .

Compare the feeding in chapter 8 to the feeding in chapter 6. Beyond the difference in numbers, 4,000 versus 5,000, what are the:

a. Similarities in both feedings?

b. Differences in both feedings?

Look at how Jesus addresses the leaven of the Pharisees in Mark 8:12-16

a. What brings up the matter?

b. Why does Jesus chastise or criticize His disciples about their thoughts on the matter?

“Do you still not understand [who I am]?” (8:17, 21).

a. Why is this question of importance for Jesus’ disciples?
b. Why is it important for us to understand this, too?

Get ready for these and other questions as we go further into the Gospel of Mark this week.  God be with you.

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In a previous post, I covered some key issues and insights from Jesus on how we truly become defiled.  Believe it or not, Jesus was pretty direct with what He said.  He didn’t leave much wiggle room for other interpretations (Mark 7:1-23).

That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  That’s been pretty standard practice for Jesus during this whole study, hasn’t it? I would think so.

Along with that, we had a short survey entitled Who is Jesus? that numerous visitors and subscribers joined in to share their opinions. FYI: we’re still taking responses throughout this week.  The results are as follows so far:

  • 89% of respondents said that King Herod believed Jesus to be John the Baptist.  That comes from the king’s own personal paranoia about John in Mark 6:14-29.
  • 56% of respondents found it insightful that the Greek woman’s daughter was healed, while 22% of respondents selected the woman’s response to Jesus’ reluctance to help.  See Mark 7:24-30.
  • 44% of respondents were amazed at Jesus’ methods for healing the deaf and mute man, while 33% were amazed at the people publishing the report despite Jesus warning against it.  See Mark 7:31-37.

We are moving on to chapter 8 now.  We will hear about signs, predictions and other challenges in this chapter.  Jesus will make some literal moves that may surprise us, too.  Look at where He goes with His disciples.  Bethsaida and Caesarea Philippi take them away from the far west and back along the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee.  Literally, Jesus is making moves and so are others who seek a sign from Him.

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