Questions for Personal Reflection and Group Discussion
Read Mark 12:13-17 (ESV):
And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.”
- Why was the topic of paying taxes to Caesar such a hot topic for Jewish people in Jesus’s day?
- How were these Pharisees and Herodians trying to trap Jesus? What were they hoping would happen in this conversation? How do their tactics reveal their underlying beliefs and values?
- The denarius coin of Jesus’s day had an image of the Caesar identifying him as son of god, high priest, and king – all of which was very offensive to the Jews. Given this, why would Jesus encourage people to pay their taxes? What was his point? Talk about the implications of Jesus’s response to their question.
- Why did the crowd marvel at Jesus here? (v.16)
- Describe what Bobby meant when he said that Christians sometimes compartmentalize their lives. What’s wrong with doing that?
- The approach of some Christians is to live completely separate and withdrawn from the world. This can sound spiritual, yet Bobby said it’s actually “unfaithful” for a Christian live that way. Why?
- What does the expression, “In the world, but not of the world” mean, and how did Jesus embody this?
- Talk about some ways that you are seeking to live “in the world” in a similar spirit to what Jesus did. Brainstorm with your group about additional ways you could grow in this area.
- Talk about some values and policies of each of the two main U.S. political parties that: (1) align with Christian values, and (2) don’t align with Christian values. What are the implications of this for us as Christ-followers?
- What did you sense God saying to you through this passage and this message?