Jdg 20-21; Mark 12; Psalm 11-12
Using the Bible is always a bad idea. It is not a tool to be put to use. We perceive this most clearly in the way so many of us ‘use scripture’ to strengthen our position (something which is always Against the Other), and perhaps fewer texts have been so abused as Mark 12:17.
It is the foundation of two kingdom theology, a theology the early Christians died in their thousands in contradiction of – a theology which now underpins so much of what we call our security. As we have read through Mark we cannot fail to see that our Only security is in this disturbing One.
What is more it is a text which comes out of an attempt to entrap Jesus, the one who says ‘no-one can serve two masters’.
Jesus, note has no money – like so many of those who follow him faithfully as missionaries, he is reliant on the hospitality of the world to find a bed, a home. ‘Bring me a denarius’.
Then comes the point, one which relates directly to the two masters saying – ‘Whose ikon (image) is this? Whose title?” And they answered him, The emperor’s.. “Then give it to him, for the coin belongs to him”
My translation unhelpfully has “whose head is this?” – masking the challenge of the encounter – whose Image does it bear??? Which then says, everything that bears the Emperor’s image belongs to the Emperor – or, that which is stamped with an image belongs to the one who bears that image. [Rev 13.17]
Trying to understand Jesus’ teaching about money without this text in our minds will always fail. As will any who try to live in two kingdoms
It strikes me that the easy aquiescence of almost all Christians to two kingdom theology is at the root of much of the malaise of the church in these days. A kingdom for now, and a heavenly one for when we die. But Jesus’ bids us come and die. This is the meaning of our baptism – ‘do you not know you were included in his death?’. We are citizens of An Other, the one whose image has marked us from the beginning of time
To whom do we belong?