If all went well, you have between 15-20 questions that you have put together for Mark 12:13-17. Below is the passage and a list of questions compiled by a group of students I recently helped walk through this exercise.
13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they [d]were amazed at Him.
Mark 12:13-17 (NASB)
Questions From The Group
1) Where did they get the coin?
2) Why is it called a penny in some translations?
3) What was Caesar’s title?
4) What was the tax for?
5) Was Jesus angry?
6) Who were the Herodians?
7) What role did the Pharisees have in the society?
8) Who are “they”?
9) What belongs to God?
10) How might Jesus have answered question #9 if given the opportunity?
11) Was Jesus confronted in private or public?
12) Whether private or public, why?
13) Why did the Pharisees dislike Jesus so much?
14) What did it matter whose image is on the coin?
15) How long had they been watching Jesus?
16) Why were they amazed?
17) Why did the Pharisees not ask a follow up question?
Starter Questions From Last Week
18) Who are the characters in the passage?
19) Where do the events take place?
20) Since it is one of the Gospel accounts, is this event recorded in one or more of the other Gospel accounts? (If this event is in one of the other accounts do not ask questions of those passages. Stay focused on this passage in Mark.)
Questions Added To The Discussion
21) Why did they want to trap Jesus?
22) How did the every day person feel about Jesus? Did they feel they same way that the Pharisees did?
23) How did Jesus know they were being hypocritical?
This list is a condensed version of the list of questions we compiled in a classroom setting with about 12 people contributing to the discussion. We eliminated questions that seemed repetitive; questions that were not focused on our chosen text; and questions that seemed to be off topic.
Here is a list of some questions that were eliminated:
1) How much was the coin worth? (off topic)
2) How did the tax structure work? (off topic)
3) If they were Pharisees, why did they need someone to pretend to be righteous?
4) Who was required to pay the tax? (off topic)
5) How many times was Jesus tested by the Pharisees? (a good question, but not related to our passage)
This is a great list of questions to begin working through. Remember, that not every question above, will benefit in discovering the meaning of this passage. However, if you take the time to answer the above questions, these answers will benefit you later down the road.
An example, would be questions 11 and 12. These two questions do not seem to have any bearing on the thrust of what Jesus was saying, but they carry a lot of weight on how the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus and why. As we answer these questions we find that Jesus was confronted publicly. This is because Jewish law required witnesses to bring an accusation against another. To be in accordance with the law, Jesus would need to say something incriminating in front of witness to be held accountable.
This is important information for later. Ultimately Jesus was taken and put on trial in secret. This was a violation of the law, but it was the only option left to the religious leaders, because Jesus always turned their words against them and never publicly incriminated himself. By answering these two questions now, it gives us some insight into the desperation the Pharisees must have felt. No matter how hard they tried, Jesus always showed Himself to be a good and reputable man. Because they could not dig up any dirt or manufacture any of their own, they resorted to a blatant disregard for the Law. This behavior shows the lengths people will go to to retain positions of power and influence even in religious circles.
Over the course of this next week, try and answer as many of the questions above and any you may have that are not on this list. Take a few minutes and review your list and dismiss those that seem to be repetitive; questions that are not focused on our chosen text; and questions that seem to be off topic.
Side Note: We will be converting this material into a bible study lesson plan at the end of the series. If you have questions that are not on this list, we would be interested to see the questions you have come up with. You can send them to us via email with any feedback.