Mark 12:11-15

Mark 12:11 (KJB)
This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Since the builders in Israel had rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, He was about to do something which was absolutely marvelous and that was to die for His people and to send the gospel of grace worldwide. No longer would He be dealing with only one nation but all the nations of the world. The true Gospel would now go out to the world and would affect millions by saving them. This did not come about by any of man’s doing but it was the Lord who orchestrated this entire plan to die for the Elect of this world and to have a bride for Himself. (Isa 53:10 KJV) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. In fact the word “marvellous” carries with it the meaning of “something which pertains only to God and not of human personalities.” This meaning fits in perfectly with the understanding we gain from Isaiah 53:10.

Mark 12:12 (KJB)
And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.

They had enough understanding to realize that the Lord was speaking about them but at this time they were unable to seize Him because the people had held Jesus as a prophet and the leaders would be afraid that the people would respond if they, in any way, tried to take Jesus. So they backed off and no doubt went into a meeting to discuss how they could take Him without raising the anger of the people.

Mark 12:13 (KJB)
And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.

Now two opposing forces have joined together to try and snare Jesus. The Herodians were those who supported the dynasty of the Herods and were in total opposition to the teaching and principles of the Pharisees plus they were friendly with the Romans. They came to Jesus with the pretended attitude of sincere seekers of truth hoping to find something in the speech of Jesus that would cause the masters of these disciples to indict Him on.

Mark 12:14 (KJB)
And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?

They came to Jesus as if they were truly seeking by stating that they know He is true and teaches the way of God and that He is not a respecter of persons.  When the verse states that Jesus “carest for no man” means that He treats everyone equally and He courts no one’s favor. Did they honestly think that Jesus did not know their true intentions? Since the Herodians backed Rome and the Pharisees were ritual and ceremony obsessed, they were hoping that Jesus would say something that would indeed offend at least one of the groups. If they really believed that Jesus was true, then why did they not believe the things He taught?

Since Rome had conquered Israel, as a vassal state to Rome it was normal for the Romans to exact a tax or tribute to be sent to Rome. There were three types of taxes that the Romans levied: 1) A land tax on money and property; 2) A toll tax in ports or cities; 3) A poll tax which was like a capital gains tax. The last one is the issue of this verse. The poll tax also represented subjection unto Caesar. They thought they had Him because if Jesus said no, then He would have been in trouble with the Herodians and Romans and if he said yes, then He would have been in trouble with the Pharisees.

Mark 12:15 (KJB)
Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.

They had asked Him whether they should give or not give. Even though they came to Jesus with such kind words and probably a religious demeanor of smiles, Jesus knew that they were truly venomous and were not concerned about the answer to that question. They were only concerned and hoping that somehow Jesus would snare Himself in His words. The word “tempt” carries with it the idea of enticing one to sin. They wanted Jesus to either transgress the law of God or the law of Rome. He unmasked their evil by publicly calling them hypocrites. A hypocrite is someone pretending to be something they are not and they pretended to be nice and have just motives for asking that question. Jesus gets ready to do another visible example and asks that a penny be brought unto Him. The coin here would have been the Roman Denarius that would definitely have the picture of the Emperor on it. I have a Roman Sestertius which has the picture of Emperor Domitian who reigned 81-96 A.D.