Render unto God what is God’s – Mark 12:13-17

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Our passage for today is from Mark 12:13-17.


We are not created to live for ourselves.

We are designed by God, in His image and for His pleasure.

I don’t know about you but for me to say that statement or say Amen to a statement like that while I am in the church comes quite easy, but when I reflect on how I live my life daily, this is not how it looks. It looks like I live for myself and for my pleasure.

But I believe this passage has challenged me to re-think about every aspect of my life and submit to the authority of God who created me in his image for his pleasure.

If you’ve been tracking with us as we are preaching through the Gospel of Mark, you will know that we are in the part where Jesus is now in Jerusalem where he will be given over to be crucified by the so-called religious leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Scribes (Teachers of the Law).

The context here is, after Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he then goes to the temple and turns the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling pigeons, which apparently makes the religious leaders angry.

Starting from Chapter 11 verse 27 we see how these Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes and looking for opportunities to trap Jesus in his own words and give him over to the authorities to be condemned and killed.

Our passage today is one of those encounters where the Pharisees along with some Herodians try to trap Jesus in his talk. Herodians were also Jews but were part of a political party that was friendly with the Roman King Herod.

In the presence of the Herodians these Pharisees come to Jesus and ask a trick question saying “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?”

Just like the taxes we pay to the Indian government to run the country, in those days they had to pay taxes to the Roman emperor Caesar, in return, the Romans built roads, homes, buildings and even provided protection from enemies.

But there was also another group of people that were called zealots who disliked the Romans, rebelled against them and never paid their taxes because they saw themselves as debtors only to the God of Israel and refused to submit under any earthly authority.

The question these Pharisees asked was a trick question because, if Jesus said “Yes, you have to pay taxes to Caesar” they would have asked then what about our allegiance to God and his authority, aren’t we supposed to surrender everything we have only to God?

And if Jesus said “No, you don’t have to pay taxes to Caesar” then the plan was to get him caught by Herodians for going against the law of the land.

To which Jesus, knowing their hypocrisy, which was, even though the Pharisees hated the Romans and didn’t like the fact that they had to pay taxes to Caesar, they still would pay their taxes to secure their position in the temple and protect their people from the Romans.

Jesus in his response actually calls out their hypocrisy by saying “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And when they brought one, he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”

They said to him, “Caesar’s.”

Jews were forbidden to make carved images, and here they were carrying a denarius which had the image of King Caesar.

In the context of what’s happening so far, I want all of us today to see, understand and reflect on Jesus’s response to the Pharisees. I think this is where I want to spend the rest of our time, allowing the Spirit of God to speak to our hearts as we struggle to fully live a life that pleases our creator God and brings him joy.

Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Jesus shuts them down but he also reminds them and to us today that things that we treasure in this world are not for us to keep, it doesn’t bear the image of God and needs to be given away.

We don’t take anything from this world.

What belongs to God are the children that bear his image, that’s us, brothers and sisters.

We are not created to live for ourselves.

We are designed by God, in His image and for His pleasure.

Today, let us all ponder upon this truth.

That is what Paul writes in Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

What does it practically mean to render our lives to God? I believe Romans 12:1-2 has some practical advice for us today that will help us understand what it means to give our lives entirely to God who made us in his image for his Glory.

Reflect on God’s mercies

Paul begins by saying I appeal you brothers “.. by the mercies of God.”

Brother and sisters, once we were sinners, rebels, lived in darkness… on the way to hell. We were lost.

God has been merciful to us through the death and resurrection of his son Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus Christ, those who believe in him are justified by faith, and reconciled to God, and have the hope of everlasting joy.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).

It is only when we reflect on Gods mercies daily that we will see learn and appreciate the purpose of our existence.

Reflecting on God’s mercies means reflecting on the Gospel.

We have to understand that we cannot offer anything to Him unless he draws it out of us. And it only happens as we daily reflect on the Gospel, on his Love, his mercies, his forgiveness.

I was talking to a lady yesterday, and she was explaining her circumstances at home. She said her husband doesn’t show love to her children and never spends money on them because of which her children hate him and can’t stand him and often speaks rudely to their Father.

She said she keeps telling her children not respond rudely but to show love and forgiveness to him hoping that he will change, but they don’t listen. She said one day I hope they will love and forgive him.

To which I said instead of hoping that they will somehow one day love and forgive their Father you should pray that they will one day realise what true love and forgiveness is, not as the world defines it but as God had revealed it through his son Jesus.

And when they learn about true love and forgiveness and respond to God in faith, God will change their hearts and bring out the best in him, even showing love to their Father and forgive him for he has done to them.

Rendering ourselves to God means reflecting on his love and mercies all the days of our lives.

Remembering our identity in Christ.

Offer your lives in service to God

When we understand that the purpose of our lives is not to conform to the world by piling up wealth and acquiring fame. Instead, it is to live for the Glory of God who created us in his image, every aspect of our lives should become a service unto God.

It is not just the church leaders who are called to serve but all of us.

Whether at the office while you are working on your projects, whether at school or college while we are acquiring knowledge, whether at home and society while we are living out our lives in our respective communities. We ought to offer our lives as a living sacrifice in service to God, holy & acceptable to God, which is our spiritual act of Worship.

We are his children, his priests, his servants, not only when we are in church, but everywhere we go, whoever we meet. We are an ambassador for him all the time.

Rendering ourselves to God means cultivating a spirit of servanthood that is willing to serve him all the time.

Do not conform to the ways of the world

This world as we know is ruled by Satan. Paul writes in 2 Cor 4:4 “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

The weapon the enemy uses the most is Distractions, these days it is through Mobile, TV, Computers.

But as children of God, who’ve put their faith in Christ Jesus we are no longer of this world—we are no longer ruled by sin, nor are we bound by the principles of the world. Also, we are being changed into the image of Christ, causing our interest in the things of the world to become less and less as we mature in Christ.

As believers, we should be set apart from the world. This is the meaning of being holy and living a holy, righteous life—to be set apart. We are not to engage in the sinful activities the world promotes. Instead, we are to conform ourselves, and our minds, to that of Jesus Christ). This should be a daily activity and commitment.

We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us.

We are not to immerse ourselves in what the world values, nor are we to chase after worldly pleasures. Pleasure is no longer our calling in life, as it once was, but rather the worship of God.

Rendering ourselves to God also means not to allow the world to influence our lives and choices.

That is precisely what Jesus meant when he said: “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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