Western Literature lesson 91

According to Mark’s gospel, what was main issue dividing Jesus from the leaders of Israel?

The Pharisees followed traditional rules without exception, even forgetting about God in the process. But Jesus chastised them by questioning, “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” Besides rebuking the Pharisees, Jesus also went around performing miracles and forgiving everyone’s sins; and the religious leaders could not accept this because they were the supposed supreme rulers. Also, this indicated that Jesus truly was what he called himself, the Son of God, and they found themselves unable to believe his claims. Jesus was about love, mercy, and including all, even Gentiles. Because this was a message for the people, they ecstatically flocked to him, and the Pharisees grew to hate him. Being the self-avowed and disdainful wise guys that they were, they challenged him on everything he preached and often taunted him with seemingly unanswerable questions. They tried to make him slip up. For instance, in Mark 12:17, the Pharisees argue with Jesus. They begin: “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15Shall we give, or shall we not give?” Jesus knows their true haughty character and the story continues: “But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, ‘Why tempt ye me? Bring me a penny, that I may see it.’ 16And they brought it. And he saith unto them, ‘Whose is this image and superscription?’ And they said unto him, ‘Caesar’s’. 17And Jesus answering said unto them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” If Jesus had answered in favor of Caesar only, the people of Israel would have revolted against Jesus, which the Pharisees were provoking; but if Jesus had answered in favor of God only, the Pharisees would have screamed, “Treason against our Roman leaders!” These sly Pharisees deserved castigation because they had left God out in their worship of him. Shame on them for trying to trip up Jesus when they were the ones at fault.

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