One truth about human beings is that sometimes you cannot actually dictate their true intentions. Sometimes what we show the world is not actually what we have in mind. This is what played out in Mark 12:13-17.
Some people may come to you with a beautiful question, beautifully packaged, some come with charming smiles but their true intention of coming to you is rightfully hidden inside the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things who can understand it?”.
Today’s Gospel of Mark 12:13-17.
In today’s gospel, the chief priests, scribes and the elders send some Pharisees and some Herodians to Jesus to question him on what He said.
When they arrive, they first of all praise Jesus as an honest man and then ask Him “Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Yes or no. They were direct in seeking a reply.
Now seeing this as a trap, Jesus asks them to give Him a denarius. He asks them whose head is this, they said Caesar. Jesus now responds to them to give Caesar what belongs to Caesar and God what belongs to Him.
Mark says today that this reply took them by surprise. In essence, what they are looking for is not what they saw. My emphasis today is not on giving Caesar and giving to God.
I have already written extensively on that in one of my reflections. You can check below for more knowledge
My emphasis in today’s gospel of Mark 12:13-17 is on the people that were sent to Jesus, their tactics and how we have to beware of these kinds of people in our own time. Let us take this bit by bit.
Then they Sent to Jesus.
The above phrase starts the gospel of today. The question now is “who sent them? To fully understand the gospel of today we have to start from verse 1 of this chapter.
The story is that after Jesus taught about the parable of the tenants in Mark 12, Verse 12 says the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they believed He had spoken the parable against them. But because they were afraid of the crowd, they left him and went away. Then today, they sent the Pharisees and Herodians to trap Him.
Here are the keys to this.
1 . Jesus aims to teach, guide and direct the people but the chief priests and the scribes misunderstood Him. In the same vein, we may be saying something or doing something good, either for your family, community, church, state, friends, for the good and progress of an organisation etc and that things will work out well, you never know who is not happy with you.
You may never know who is misunderstanding you and even plan evil against you because of that. This is what happened today.
2 . You might never know who feels hurt by the things you do or say. These might even be the people who are close to you and always listen to you. Remember that those chief priests were once Jesus’ audience.
3 . Do not be surprised that there are many around you who for days, weeks, months and years are praying for your downfall or looking for a way to trap you down.
Remember that the chief priests couldn’t arrest Jesus that very good day that they became infuriated about his parable, but later sent some people to do the secret job.
So, the gospel of Mark 12:13-17 is a call for us to always be careful of the Pharisees who come to us. Some of them may be sent, while some of them may come to us for a reason very far from what you think.
4. You may not be truly certain of what that person who comes to you with beautiful questions and smiles, asking for your contact and all that, have in mind.
Do not be too quick to dance in, think before you respond and meditate before you act. They will only show their true intention and colour when they think they have gotten what they wanted.
Beware of many who buy you gifts, many have fallen into a trap without knowing.
Be Wary of False Praises.
Guess what, when the Pharisees came today their first statement is “teacher we know that you are sincere, You show no partiality and the way of truth”. They began with flattering. They think that by flattering Jesus they can easily get Him. So, they demanded a yes or no answer.
If Jesus says yes in paying taxes to Caesar, that means Jesus is now for the Romans, meaning He is against the Jews. They may accuse Him of being a traitor and a false teacher, that He is placing Caesar higher than God.
If He says no, it also means He is against the Romans. This may infuriate the Herodians who will certainly descend on Him. So, any yes or no answer from Jesus must be a problem.
Here, Jesus teaches us that not every question requires a yes or no answer. Always think before you talk.
2 . Also. the gospel of Mark 12:13-17 teaches us to be very careful of those who flatter us at our faces. Those things you are hearing may not be true of what they have in mind for you.
The same people might be the ones to maim you at the back. Beloved also be very careful in whatever you say to whom you say it and where you say it. Do not be surprised that most of those listening to you are spies.
God Knows Our Hearts.
In today’s gospel of Mark 12:13-17, though the Pharisees and the Herodians came with flattering, Jesus knows what they have in their minds. He understands that the praise is only a trap and not genuine. That is why He asks them plainly “Why do you set this trap for me?”
Hence, the question we are to ask ourselves today is “how honest we are in our dealings with people? There are times we seem to help but deep down in our hearts, we have other selfish interests.
There are times we smile at people but our hearts are full of evil for the same person we are smiling with.
Sometimes, we act well outside but our hearts are full of deceit and selfishness. Many Christians today are victims of this.
Now we understand why the bible says only the pure in heart shall see God ( Mathew 5:8). Let us be mindful of what goes into our hearts.
It is good to always be honest. God looks into the heart. Let us not forget that judgement awaits us at the end of our lives.
God knows even the deepest thoughts in our hearts. He who searches our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit ( Romans 8:27).
Finally, let us pray for wisdom, Jesus always wriggles out of His trap because He has already known their true intention. He then responds but with wisdom.
Hence let us always pray for wisdom, act with wisdom, talk with wisdom and always think before we respond to anyone.
May God bless you dearest and give you the grace to be victorious always in whatever you do. Amen.