When Priorities Are Challenged What Do I Owe Government? Mar 12:13 Then they *sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. Mar 12:14 They *came and *said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? Jesus has over-thrown the crooked merchants tables inside the gates of the Temple and in my mind there is little doubt that the Scribes, the Pharisees and likely some Sadducee merchants were and had lost income because of the actions of Jesus. They were even aligning themselves with the politicized Herodians to kill Jesus. All of the local rulers were feeling the threat of Jesus to their authority and understood that they needed to do something with Him. Mar 12:15 "Shall we pay or shall we not pay?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at." They asked Jesus what could have been an honest enough question but Jesus saw right through it because He knew their goal was to exterminate Him and His threat to their leadership. Immediately Jesus announced His knowledge of their deception to them with His question and then He moved very swiftly into changing their posture into one of defense. They were on the defense as soon as He asked for their aid in answering their own question. Mar 12:16 They brought one. And He *said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" And they said to Him, "Caesar's." And in this verse we see that they are busy answering the very question they had asked Him. It is very disarming when a person takes another's aggression and turns it onto themselves. It leaves a person feeling very silly. Mar 12:17 And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him. They were amazed because Jesus had taken their own knowledge and their own reasoning and turned the tables on them. What Do I Owe God? Mar 12:28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" In any group of this type there are usually the tag-alongs that consider themselves smarter than the collective group and they will often seek to impress by standing out. This Scribe was making, just, such a move. Mar 12:29 Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; Mar 12:30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' Mar 12:31 "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Jesus, being the author of the Law knew all 613 of them more intimately than any man ever did or ever will. What Do I Owe Others? Mar 12:32 The scribe said to Him, "Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NNE ELSE BESIDES HIM; Mar 12:33 AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE'S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." The Scribe, in my opinion, was so impressed with the answer given to the others and then with no time to rethink His position Jesus answered the sharpshooting Scribe with the only correct answer and Jesus had, likely, put it in such a way that the Scribe had never considered, he too was amazed. Mar 12:34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.