Mark 12: 13-17: Amazing Jesus.
“13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, ‘Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the poll-tax[a] to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?’ But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked. ‘Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. 17 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at him.” NIV
‘’And they were amazed at him’’ (17b) – and so are we!
Alistair Begg told a story about going into a sweet shop when he was a little boy. Someone else in the shop at the same time, praised young Alistair for some reason. When she had left the premises, the lady behind the counter said to him, ’Flattery is like perfume sonny. You can sniff the bottle, but don’t swallow it.’
‘’…their flattering lips speak with deception’’ (Psalm 12:2b).
‘’A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin’’ (Proverbs 26:28).
‘’He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favour than he who has a flattering tongue’’ (Proverbs 28:23).
‘’Whoever flatters his neighbour is spreading a net for his feet’’ (Proverbs 29:5).
There is a difference between genuine appreciation and encouragement on the one hand, and flattery on the other. To keep the ‘scent’ theme going, flattery has a certain whiff to it that trained nostrils may be able to detect. Flattery is manipulative. It uses nice sounding words with ulterior motives. The flatterer attempts to ‘wrong foot’ the one he is flattering (14). They certainly wanted Jesus in their ‘’net’’ (15b). But Jesus spotted the ‘’trap’’ on the ground and did not fall into it. They sought to put Him into ‘check’. He dealt with their slimy, sticky questions with wise questions of His own (16). Before they knew what had hit them they found themselves check-mated (17).
By the way, don’t play games with the Bible (13), the word of Jesus. Be serious with it, or nothing at all.