“Every time the people from Jerusalem come to check up on Jesus, they prove they are as out of step with him and his views, as he is with them and theirs.”1
- Mark 11:11 is the first time the temple is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark.
- The group that comes to speak to Jesus in Mark 11:27 can be considered an official delegation from the Sanhedrin. It includes the chief priests (the most powerful officials representing the priesthood), the scribes (legal experts) and the elders (influential members of the aristocracy).
- The Hebrew word for ‘stone’ (אבן) found in Mark 12:10 is a combination of the words ‘father’ (אב) and ‘son’ ( בן).
Mark writes, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it” (Mark 11:24). This small line of Scripture has been the cause of deepened faith for some and lost faith for others. People have prayed with sincerity for many years to heal an illness, only to have the person pass away. Others have experienced divine healing after a short prayer. Creating expectations around whether or not our prayers are answered because of the amount of ‘belief’ that we have creates nothing but destruction.
This promise of answered prayer was not meant as a guarantee that God will do whatever we ask. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in reading Scripture from only a rational mind-set and logical point of view. Jesus and/or Mark put this promise here as an encouragement for us to pray, to expect and to have confidence in God’s unlimited power and loving kindness. This approach by Mark serves to bring communities back to the awesome presence of God.
Taxes & Jesus
In Mark 12:13-17, we find a discussion and challenge with Jesus and those from Jerusalem. This text has left people wondering what the role of taxes should play in our life. The counsel that comes from Jerusalem challenges Jesus with a question about whether taxes should be paid. But Jesus, as he usually does, turns the question around and makes the answer about graven images. The image of the Roman Emperor on the coin is one that calls the emperor as Lord. A title that should only be reserved for Jesus. So not only does paying the tax admit that the land belongs to Rome, but it also is paid with Roman coins that call the emperor “Lord.”
Jesus’ response to the counsel is to be interpreted that we, as Christians, do not belong to the Roman Empire. God’s very image is stamped on us (Genesis 1:24) and because of that, we belong to God. Give the coins that belong to Caesar to Caesar. Give what belongs to God to God.
Questions for Reflection
- When have you experienced the unexpected Jesus? When has Jesus called you to something you did not anticipate?
- When has the church been a welcoming House of God for you? When has it not?
1Geddert, Mark, 260.
Geddert, Timothy J. Believers Church Bible Commentary: Mark. Herald Press: Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 2001.