MARK 12:1-27 (NIV – UK)
The parable of the tenants
1 Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall round it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
6 ‘He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, “They will respect my son.”
7 ‘But the tenants said to one another, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.”8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 ‘What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
‘“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes”?’ [Psalm 118:22-23]
12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.
Paying the poll-tax to Caesar
13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, ‘Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the poll-tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?’
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked. ‘Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’
‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
17 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.
Marriage at the resurrection
18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?’
24 Jesus replied, ‘Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising – have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? [Exodus 3:6] 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!’
TAXES TO CAESAR AND PRAISE TO GOD
The Pharisees and Herodians mean to trap Jesus once more. They ask him: ‘Is it right to pay the poll-tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?’ (v. 14-15). If Jesus answered yes, the people would be turned against him as they were ruled by the Romans. If Jesus said no, the government would be turned against him. Jesus spots their trap and frames the question very differently. He asks them to bring him a coin and points out that it is, indeed Caesar’s image and inscription on the coin – and thus it belongs to him – therefore what is Caesar’s should be given to Caesar. They were amazed with his answer!
Empires of this world will rise and fall. Numerous different images and inscriptions are on different coins and bank notes across the world. Money, therefore, is very much of this world. Of course, we have a responsibility before God to use our resources wisely – but it is an invention of this world, and it will remain in this world. But God is interested in very different things. God wants from us our whole lives – he wants us – relationship with us – he wants our devotion, our adoration, our worship, our praise. Those are the things that are of God.
Question: Do you feel as if you give to God what is due to him? Can you think of any ways to devote yourself more to God?