The Text

13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Jesus to trap him in his words.

14 When they came, they said to him, “Teacher, we know you are truthful and don’t care what anyone thinks, nor do you show partiality but teach the way of God truthfully. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

15 But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.”

16 They brought a coin. “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked them. “Caesar’s,” they replied.

17 Jesus told them, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.

The Devotion

Is this passage about patriotism, nationalism, politics, or taxes? No.

What this passage exposes the hardness of the hearts of unbelievers towards God.

They were so harden at the heart that they thought themselves to be wise, the became fools in trying to test the Almighty God:

Romans 1:21-23 (CSB) For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

The terrible and tragic thing is that any of us can be so gripped by our own sin (the evil that we do) and idolatry (the thing that we think will make us whole and complete that is not God), that we are willing to do whatever it takes to stop any opposition:

  • addiction to porn - destroy life, marriage, and family in order to keep your addiction
  • addiction to power - lie, cheat, and steal to keep a hold of your feeble little powers
  • addiction to safety - dogpile upon the laws of God in order to keep us “safe” from harm–but only produces self-righteousness which is an abomination in the sight of God.

In our sin, we will go as far as trying to kill the Son of God.

But here’s the kick: he has already died–never to die again.

Hebrews 7:27 (CSB) He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all time when he offered himself.


Hebrews 9:27-28 (CSB) And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment— so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

When we sin, we exchange God for something not God. When Christ came to save his people from their sins, he exchanged our pride, our sin, our idolatry, our stupidity, our ignorance, our foolishness, our wickedness for glorious, majestic, loving, grace and mercy–Jesus Christ, Son of God who is God.

For those who believe and trust in Christ, our sin now belongs to Him–because He is our King and Lord and everything that we have is His. We gave our sin over to Him, now we belong to him forever.

Christ was commanding the Pharisees and the scribes the same command to you, me, and the rest of the world: repent of sins, trust in Him.

The Discussion

1. How deep does the hardness of heart goes? 
2. Is there any hope for a hard heart?
3. Think about the Pharaoh in Exodus and read Romans 9. How did God harden the heart of Pharoah?
4. Is the gospel the same for the Pharaoh, the Pharisees, the scribes, for you and for me?

The Prayer from the Psalms

Psalm 15 (CSB)
A psalm of David.

1 LORD, who can dwell in your tent? Who can live on your holy mountain?

2 The one who lives blamelessly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth in his heart—

3 who does not slander with his tongue, who does not harm his friend or discredit his neighbor,

4 who despises the one rejected by the LORD but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his word whatever the cost,

5 who does not lend his silver at interest or take a bribe against the innocent— the one who does these things will never be shaken.

O Lord,
How could I possibly worship you? I am not worthy to commune with you and be with you. I sin even now. My heart strays. My soul wanders.

Yet, you, O God, are not far from me. When I am in the wilderness, you are closer than a whisper. When I have fallen, you set me back up on solid ground and you rejoice over me with singing. When I ran away from you, you sent your Son to live the life I could not live and die in my place for my sins.

Worthiness is not a feeling. Worthiness is an absolute truth.

You have justified me because I trust your Son.
You have given me your Son’s righteousness because He received my sin.
You have declared me to be holy because You alone are holy.
You have marked me as worthy because of the infinite worth of your Son.

I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. Forevermore.

Let me worship you. Let my life be marked in praise to Your holy name. Let my very breath be a sweet sound in your ears.

I love you, God.

In name of Your mighty Son, I pray.

The Resources

Calvin’s Commentaries.
by John Calvin.
Baker. 2009.
Olive Tree

Mark: An Expositional Commentary
by R.C. Sproul.
Reformation Trust Publisher. 2011.

New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark
by William Hendriksen.
Baker. 1981.

The Gospel according to Mark: The English Text With Introduction, Exposition, and Notes (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)
by William L. Lane.
Eerdman’s. 1974.

Mark (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT Volume 2)
Edited by Thomas C. Odin & Christopher A. Hall
IVP Academic. 2005.

Mark (The Story of God Bible Commentary Series)
by Timothy G. Gombis.
Zondervan Academic. March 9th 2021.