February 2, 2010

Partners In Crime

Mark 12:13-17~ And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 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?" But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar’s." 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.

Most readers are often drawn to the "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God thing's that are God's" and rightly so. What was said by Jesus was profoundly astute if not supernatural in it's truth. What many glance over though is the introduction of the religious and civic leaders in this expositional unit. The partnership or pairing of the Pharisees and the Herodians. Herodians were a public political party, who distinguished themselves from the two great historical parties of post-exilian Judaism (Pharisees and Sadducees) by the fact that they were and had been sincerely friendly to Herod the Great. Herod the Great was despised by the Pharisees...the Pharisees despised any ruler who despised the Law. And probably all his subjects resented his excessive taxation. According to Flavius Josephus, there were two taxes in kind at annual rates equivalent to 10.7% and 8.6%, which is extremely high in any preindustrial society (Jewish Antiquities 14.202-206). It comes as no surprise that Herod sometimes had to revert to violence, employing mercenaries and a secret police to enforce order.

Long story short...the Pharisees despised the Herodians but in their common hatred of Jesus they joined forces as partners in the greatest crime in history. How bad did that hatred have to be to be able to embrace a mortal enemy in the form of the Herodians? Profound hatred is probably a more suitable statement. Evil has no qualms and knows no bounds. It knows no hypocrisy and is not ashamed to degrade itself to meet it's ends. This would be no different than Democrats and Republicans joining forces to railroad and destroy a common foe politically. It is nearly incomprehensible until you consider that a man's selfish intents and desires of their hearts, when acted upon, become so evil. There is no pit too deep or pride too high. Evil never sleeps. For an additional example of how the evils in the darkness of this world will join forces to oppose Jesus Christ and His followers in this world, you need look no further than:

Luke 23:8-12:
When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies."

What deals with shady characters have you made unwittingly? Anger, snide remarks in close company, backbiting, prideful refusal to admit you were wrong in an argument with a spouse, parent, child. Which was it? I suggest you nullify the deal and get out of it.

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