“…Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” – Mk. 12:17 KJV
Today’s scripture is an extract from one of the experiences of Jesus Christ when he was in the world. It is no secret that he never agreed with the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, elders and the rulers of the synagogue on several issues (Matt. 23:1-26) but they continued to worship together. There was never going to be a separate synagogue for himself and like minds to worship and so he had to get that clear and found a way to succeed in his mission with them around him.
That they worshipped together did not make him compromise his position on what was right and wrong when it concerned the liturgy and the commandments of God. He was not going to change his mind on what he was sure about, neither was he going to join them in their error Matt. 21:12. These group on the other hand were also not willing to change their ways but because truth had a way of always overcoming falsehood, they found themselves always at the losing end – Lk. 2:47. They had no choice but to resort to the use of underhand tactics to get rid of him. The situation in reference was one of those occasions – Mk. 12: 13-17.
Knowing that he had always talked about a king, a kingdom and a reign, they felt convinced that one way to get rid of him was to catch him in his pronouncements against the leadership at the time, and they specifically ensured that the loyalists of Herod were in the team so they can report him directly to Herod. So firstly, they flattered him for his honesty and steadfastness to his belief, all in an attempt to trap him with his response to a seemingly innocent question with regards to the appropriateness of paying tax.
The Bible says Jesus knowing their intention asked them whose picture was on the currency being spent to which they responded “Caesar” and his reply for them is the reference scripture for today.
The focus of today’s devotion is more on the awareness of Jesus Christ about his environment and his resort to apply wisdom in order to succeed in his mission. He had to worship God but realised that the synagogue was not in heaven but on earth. He needed to worship in the synagogue but knew he was not worshipping with saints and angels in heaven. He understood the fact that he held a view that was not a popular one and was conscious that he could get into problem with authorities by those who planned to deliberately misrepresent him so he was careful about his pronouncements. He practically devised a way of staying in water and not getting wet, by worshipping with them and not allowing his success with his mission to be affected by all their negative plans.
Christians today need to realise firstly that a different world will not be created for them to achieve success, outside the world that they presently live in. That non Christians have the same right to live in this world just as Christians do as no one will leave this world for another. That in the struggle to have an upper hand non Christians do not have to play the survival game with Christian rules. That no matter what one believes, succeeding in this world is a survival game and wisdom will always be required. More importantly, the individual will not be the first to live in this world so the challenges faced is not sufficient to explain failure.
Enough of looking for scapegoats to blame for your lack of wisdom. The concept of blaming practically everyone but yourself for your failure has not helped you this far and it will not help you going forward. Can you not see that the mess you find yourself in (at work, in your family, in your neighbourhood) is because you did not know what to say and when to say what you said. Wake up and smell the coffee, every other person that is succeeding or succeeded, is living or lived in this same world that you are complaining about. That witch or wizard in your family will not leave this world for you. He or she has equal rights as you do to live here. The devil has always been and will always be in this world so you had better devise a way to live successfully with him rather than making ineffective pronouncements about the devil dying. You will probably be the one that will die as a huge failure.
You too can succeed in this world if you follow the principles of Jesus Christ by living in wisdom. You will then realise that you will spend less time chasing shadows and be more involved with success oriented activities. You will feel less disturbed by all those enemies at work, in your family or in your neighbourhood, not because they are dead but because you have devised a wise way of living with them. You have limited time to spend on this earth and you cannot waste it on fighting wars in a manner that will always make you a loser. Study your environment and devise the best way to live successfully in it by asking God for wisdom. You may be victorious in prayer but you are better off avoiding wars by being wise. That is what you need for that success before time flies away. It is the only way to leave all those co-tenants in the world marvelled. May God grant you the wisdom for success in this world in Jesus name. Amen.