And They Marveled

Mark 12:13–17
13 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.

After confounding the temple leadership in their attempt to trap Jesus into saying something for which they could accuse Him, another delegation comes to continue the process. This is an interesting group, for they represent both the spiritual (Pharisees) and the political (Herodians) realms of life. At this point, those who hate Jesus are willing to settle for any excuse to destroy Him. Interestingly, the Pharisees despised the Herodians but were willing to join with their enemies to defeat Jesus.

My small imagination has often pictured these guys sitting at a meeting brainstorming questions they could throw at Jesus to trap Him into a mistake. With this one they probably figured they had come up with the perfect trap. Jesus would be found guilty either by the temple or the state. But clearly they had yet again underestimated Jesus.

The denarius was a small silver coin that bore the emperor’s bust on one side and on the other the following inscription: “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Augustus”—in Latin, of course. The Pharisees made use of it in paying their taxes. Thus they tacitly acknowledged Caesar’s authority and really answered their own question. Jesus could have stopped right there.
Wicke, H. E. ©1988. Mark (p. 167). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.

What is remarkable to me at this point are the words “and they marveled at Him.” Really? After three years of chasing Jesus and trying to cause Him to say something He shouldn’t say – now they marvel? But His ability to thwart their every move was indeed marvelous. Just because they marveled didn’t mean they were believers, though. They still manage to kill Him four days later because His plans were not going to be altered by those who hated Him. I tend to marvel at what Jesus does every single day. Hold a newborn or watch a sunrise and you simply must marvel. God is worthy of a little awe.