Every cultural context has its political “hot topics.” In the Rome occupied region of Judea in Jesus day, it was the imperial tax. Jesus enemies tried to trap him by forcing him to choose political sides. No tax and he was a traitor to Rome and big government, yes to the tax and he would be branded a traitor to the people’s cause. It was a lose-lose proposition and his enemies knew it. In Mark 12:13-17, Pastor Mark explains how Jesus thwarts their ploy by absolutely refusing to be put into a political box. With a borrowed coin, imprinted with Caesar’s image as his teaching tool, Jesus compels his followers to notice whose image the coin bears. “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what is God’s.” By reframing the question in terms of image, Christ points to the deeper reality his enemies overlooked. Image denotes ownership. His implication is clear. As image-bearer’s of God, the people belong to God and should give themselves back to Him. In our culture, as well as theirs, the vital interests of a society are not realized by allegiance to any particular political agenda, but by our allegiance to what advances the Kingdom of God, whose image all people bear.
Jesus often taught with parables: stories with layers of meaning. In the parable of the talents Jesus uses the picture of the forbearing owner of the winepress and his greedy workers to show the Pharisees how even though they rejected the Son as Savior, God still established Jesus as the Cornerstone. Through the passage from Mark 12:1-12, Pastor Mark teaches that the parable first shows God’s incomprehensible mercy and patience. At the same time God set Jesus as the foundation of His plan. Even today Jesus is the cornerstone of our personal walk with God. Without him, we set up “functional cornerstones,” things we identify or align ourselves with, that actually draw us away from Christ. The parable reminds us that Jesus is our personal cornerstone that will never fail.
In Mark 11:1-26, Pastor Mark takes us on the road with Jesus, riding as conquering King on an incongruous little donkey right into the heart of Jerusalem and the temple. The unfathomable nature of Christ’s entrance into His beloved city is a picture of His entrance into the lives of His beloved children. Beyond the boundaries of our expectations, Christ comes as He truly is: majestic and meek, sovereign and humble, all-sufficient and yet all-depending, full of grace and yet commanding the centrality of God for all His people.