The Wisdom of Jesus. Most Americans appreciated his work because it brought a speedy end to the war and ultimately saved American lives

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1 The Wisdom of Jesus Mark 12:13-17 Introduction Robert Oppenheimer is a name that has gone down in the history books. He was tapped by President Roosevelt to direct the Manhattan project during WW II at Los Alamos. When his team successfully detonated the first atomic bomb in July of 1945 Oppenheimer was relieved that they had accomplished their objective However - he quickly came to regret his role in the project after the war. During a meeting with President Truman he said that he felt as if he had blood on his hands. He later became such an advocate for nuclear disarmament that his national security credentials were stripped from him. He had let the genie out of the bottle and he could not put it back in. One of his biographer s commented on the Oppenheimer quandary: Oppenheimer came to know what a good bomb is and obsessively devoted himself to trying to make one; what he did not do at the time is ask himself whether making this good bomb was a good thing to do. [Think, p. 121] Most Americans appreciated his work because it brought a speedy end to the war and ultimately saved American lives It was a horrible weapon that brought a good end to a horrible war We live in the shadow of Oppenheimer today as we live on a nuclear armed planet ***Oppenheimer s story reminds us that be human and to live on this planet is to face questions of a moral nature it is inescapable Whether one is overtly religious or not to be human is to be confronted with issues of ethics and morality Is this right? / Is this wrong? What about abortion? [right or wrong] / homosexuality / adultery / divorce / gambling / drinking / pornography / marijuana / etc. How we answer such questions will generally depend upon one s worldview Do we believe in God? Do we believe He has spoken to us thru the Scriptures? Do we believe in the fallen / sinful nature of man? Do we look to Jesus as Savior and Lord? As Christians with a biblical worldview we often boil moral and ethical issues down to: What would Jesus do? / or what did He say? 1

2 We ask the question: What would Jesus do? because we recognize that He is the authority and embodiment of wisdom The Bible points out the fact that one of our great losses that occurred at the fall [entrance of sin into the world] was the damage done to our moral and ethical compass As man stands now He lacks wisdom / He has become foolish The solution: Prov. 3:5-7 We are called to turn from our own manner of thinking and embrace the wisdom of God In this next section of Mark s Gospel we will see a series of questions being asked of Jesus He will be asked about the resurrection [the afterlife] / about submission to government / about the commands of God Some of the questions are designed to entrap Him Others come from better motives But in the end regardless of the questioner s motive the wisdom of Jesus is on full display And we are reminded that to live rightly in this world is to embrace the wisdom of Jesus It is right to ask: What would Jesus do? / What did Jesus say about this? - and to follow I. Trying to Trap Jesus vv Mark tells us that some Pharisees and Herodians are sent to Jesus for the purpose of trying to trap him in a statement Luke 20:20 And they... sent [some] spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so as to deliver Him up to the rule and the authority of the governor. This is all part of a ruse they want to see Jesus taken down they are not seeking the wisdom of Jesus here they want to destroy Jesus One of the amazing things that we see in Jesus dealing with different questions brought before Him is that no matter what the motives are of the questioner s He always brings edification to those who are the genuine hearers [like you and I] The issue raised here is really that of the Christian view of government Should we pay taxes to Rome? In 1 st century Israel - People s passions and emotions were high when it came to this issue 2

3 Historically we might look back at - The Boston Tea Party [by way of comparison] that was essentially a rejection of England s right to tax the colonies without their consent Here s what we think of your tea tax! [In Jesus day] Nearly every Jew despised the fact that they had to pay taxes to Rome they were nationalists they wanted to be their own nation as they once were under the kings David / Solomon One of Jesus disciples was Simon the zealot zealots [a political ideology] were opposed to Roman rule / opposed to paying taxes / and often advocated acts of violent rebellion / would refuse to use Roman currency as well The zealots were the main instigators behind the rebellion of Israel that led to the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed by Titus the Roman General MacArthur makes the point that [considering the 12 disciples] at one point in his life Simon [the zealot] would probably have gladly killed Matthew [the tax collector]. But Jesus brought the two together to serve in the cause of the gospel So the question comes to Jesus: Is it right to pay taxes to Rome? Matthew and Simon would have been very interested in this question It would be kind of like an NRA advocate and a pacifist Quaker hearing someone ask Jesus if it s ok to own a gun. [their ears would have perked up] If Jesus simply says, yes pay taxes that will be an unpopular answer with the crowds If He says, No don t pay taxes that is sedition / rebellion against Rome There is the trap that is laid for Him They don t see any way out for Jesus on this one But they have not reckoned with the fact that they were standing in the presence of divine wisdom Divine wisdom pierces thru the folly of the wicked and exposes it We see this in one of the great OT wisdom displays involving king Solomon Solomon was granted great wisdom by God I Kings 3 But then that wisdom was tested by a case involving two women in his kingdom 3

4 They came to the king the women lived together in the same house and both had a child around the same time [within 3 days of each other]. [probably prostitutes] Later the child of one of the women died during the night because she laid on it. She got up and pulled a switcheroo with the other lady s baby during the night. The other lady got up the next morning and found that her child had died but when she looked more closely she realized that it was not her child but the other lady s. But the other lady insisted saying: No the living child is mine the dead one is yours so they brought the case before Solomon Solomon sized up the situation said, get me a sword then told his servant to divide the living child in two and give half to each of the women. I Kings 3:26-28 Then the woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, Oh my lord give her the living child, and by no means kill him. But the other said: he shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him! Then the king answered and said: give the first woman the living child and by no means kill him. She is his mother. When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice. The deceitful woman had figured no one could know my word against hers - - she had not counted on the fact that there was a divine wisdom in operation to expose truth These men the Pharisees and Herodians are making a similar mistake they are treating Jesus like He is just an ordinary man [they are out of their league] Ordinary men simply give opinions What we see here however when you come to Jesus with your questions you are not just getting another opinion you are coming to the wisdom of God to truth itself When it comes to morals and ethics we can debate certain issues We can bring in the opinion of this expert or this scholar / this politician / these polling results / these opinion surveys But when we hear the response of Jesus debate ends we have just been exposed to the truth II. The Stunning Answer vv. 16, 17 Jesus asks for a coin somebody fishes a Roman coin out of his pocket with an image of Caesar on it 4

5 If we were to fish out a coin we would see an American President To use a Roman coin was to acknowledge the government in operation in that sphere Then Jesus gives His response Render unto Caesar what is Caesar s and to God what is God s The fact that they used Caesar s money implied that they already were in submission to His rule now they ought to pay for the services of the government Civil Government is legitimate in Scripture for the purposes of law and order / national security / other things that promote the public good [a fire department / emergency services] If we use the services of the government we should render what is due for those services Jesus did not provoke civil unrest or anarchy towards government But His answer does not simply promote an acceptance of civil government He also limits the sphere of civil government by adding: render to God the things that are God s God s authority is higher and greater Our obligations to God are greater than they are to the government If the government is wicked if you lived in Nazi Germany you could be a loyal Christian and try to assassinate Adolf Hitler [as Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was involved in] In the Scriptures we are to obey civil government as long as it does not infringe upon our duties to God Should we stand for the national anthem? [right or wrong] If you recognize that your national government provides you with a peaceful society in which to live / that it protects its citizens / that it has an army for national defense against enemy aggressors / that it protects the basic freedoms and rights of its people then yes you should stand in appreciation of that country because many have died to preserve these freedoms and many have lived on this earth with far less freedom / far less than what we enjoy The Christian can gladly stand for the national anthem he can pay taxes but he also recognizes that his ultimate loyalty is in a higher sphere 5

6 The coin had Caesar s image on it Is anything stamped with God s image? Gen. 1:26 God said, let us make man in our image We are stamped with the image of God our very lives belong to Him It is rebellion against God to ignore His laws / His commands to say that our lives are our own and we will do as we please Alistair Begg: Sin is essentially me putting myself where God deserves to be in the place of authority and majesty, running my own life, charting my own course. It is saying to God whether very politely or extremely angrily I don t want you, I won t obey your commands, I will not listen to your Word I will call the shots. [Christmas Playlist, p. 31] We are creatures created in the image of God who will one day stand before Him in judgment Our great problem: We have not rendered to God the things that are God s Rom. 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We have committed treason against our king in heaven That is why we have all the various manifestations of sin and wickedness in this world: murder / stealing / violent crime / war / genocide / abortion / adultery / homosexuality / pornography / lust / etc. We don t ask: What would Jesus do? Sinful man does what is right in his own eyes Humanity has two options in its present state We can continue in our folly or we can repent and embrace the wisdom of God offered to us in Jesus Christ We can agree with God s assessment of human nature: fallen / sinful Rom. 3:10 There is none righteous not even one. We can then turn to His remedy the salvation provided in Jesus Christ Jesus died on the cross for our sins / for our foolish choices / for our acts of rebellion 6

7 He paid the penalty in full with His shed blood He then rose again from the grave Conclusion Jesus says that in the end there are only two kinds of people The wise and the foolish / those who heed His Words and those who do not Matt. 7:24-27 Which category describes you? We encourage you to embrace wisdom embrace the Savior Communion Service 7

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