Debate or The Bait?
Do you remember the famous words of Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars, "It's a Trap!!!" When I watch people say on social media or tv that they want to debate so and so to prove something, I tend to think it's a trap. To me, a debate isn't about "proving" something. It's about having a healthy discussion to understand the point of view of someone else.
Not many people are comfortable with the idea of being wrong, unless it is with a group of people that support their side of the topic, however, I love love LOVE having a debate or open discussions. Faithful Merrium-Webster defines "debate" as, “a discussion between people in which they express different opinions about something.” My question is, is this what we are seeing today? Sometimes, I think people say they want to have a debate, but instead just throw out "the bait" to try to underscore a person's belief, self-esteem, or worse to shame them publicly. Interestingly enough, this is exactly what happened to Jesus in the Bible.
I know, you're thinking, "No Way! Times back then are not the same as now." Hmm, is that so? Let's talk...
Before we dive into the specific verses that represent this event, I'm going to provide you with some background information. These will be generalized descriptions, but if you're curious about the specifics, feel free to send me an email or go to my "How" page and submit your questions.
There are three groups that interacted with Jesus and were not happy about the way he spoke to the public. Jesus's teachings conflicted with a lot of their interpretations and assumptions about the world we live in and heavily disliked the influence Jesus had on the public. These groups are - The Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians.
The pharisees (in Hebrew means "to separate") were considered the Jewish leaders of the time. They followed the Law of Moses (like our U.S. constitution) and felt that it was necessary to make rules to impose a standard for the public to follow or they would suffer the consequences. Although the public felt the Pharisees had their best interest in teaching them to become "righteous" people, the Pharisees used this control to influence the people (i.e. tell everyone you know the law, set high standards for people to follow saying this is the way, interpret the consequences from the Law of Moses, and justify their own actions through their own righteous deeds). Phew...does this sound familiar?
Next you have the Sadducees (the deists or the skeptics of the age). This group was considered the philosophical gurus or intellectuals of that time and were heavily influenced by Greek Philosophy (focusing more on the studies of natural phenomenons). They "denied that the oral law was a revelation of God to the Israelites, and who deemed the written law alone to be obligatory on the nation, as a divine authority." According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, it explains the Sadducees as those that wanted to exlude God from the government of the world. Hmm, so claiming what is studied and written as truth and ignoring morality or consciousness...interesting.
And finally, you have the Herodians. This group was formed as a political party amongst the Jews that supported the Herodian family, "as a last hope of retaining for the Jews a fragment of a national government" after the Roman Empire conqured the land. This group was not focused on the religion of the times, but instead were against Jesus because the Herodian family was due to Jesus's spiritual teachings that went against their political interests. Wow, I feel like I'm having deja vu!
Okay, so now we have the back story, where in the Bible are we supposed to see this similarity of the past and present? Ask and you shall receive!
It is written in Mark chapter 12 that Jesus encountered these three groups. We start off with the Pharisees that got the Herodians to join them in this first discussion:
"Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him
in his words. 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 imperial tax to Caesar or not? 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.' They borught the coin, and he aske them,
'Whose image is this? And whose inscription?'
'Caesar’s,' they replied.
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." (Mark 12: 13-17)
What a response to a very political question! Jesus was clever, he made it clear to show that if you use something that belongs to the government, than you give back that item to the government (hence money comes from the government, so it is your duty to give it back). And when stating, "give back to God what is God's" shows that we are created in His image, therefore, we should give ourselves to God. Pretty simple right?
And next you come across the Sadducees, who again are very skeptical about the spiritual sense of the law and it's written:
"Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a
question. 'Teacher,' they said, 'Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies
and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up
offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married
and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he
also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the
seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. At the resurrection whose
wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?'
Jesus replied, 'Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the
power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage;
they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising—have you not
read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him,
‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God
of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!'" (Mark 12:18-27).
Did you catch all of that? Because the Sadducees are skeptical about resurrection, they use this topic as a hope to catch Jesus in a hole. They find the evidence that would support their theory, only to realize later that if they had continued their research, they would have found the true answer to their question. Ever experience a situation where you get one piece of a fact and make a decision, only to find out later you get more facts and change that decision, and then eventually it continues and the decision changes again and again? Still don't think this relates to today?
How you compare the groups in the past to the groups of today is between you and God. I highly recommend you grab a Bible or look it up online and read the whole chapter 12 of Mark (at the very least). You may be amazed by what you read and how God reveals to you. However, if you want to have an open discussion about it, let's do it! Reach out to me on the "How" page or send me an email. Let's talk about it!