Recall a time when you were on the opposite side of those all around you. Tell that story.

  • I’m sporting the “wrong” jersey at a football game on our archrival’s home turf.
  • I’m trying to be understood in a country where I do not speak the native language.
  • I’m worshipping in another kind of church where I’m the only one who looks like me.
  • I’m in an inherently conflicted or awkward situation at work __________.
  • Other power encounter where I felt trapped __________.



Jesus has just told a parable that slammed the religious leaders (Mark 12:1-12). Now irritated, they seek to trap Jesus, jail him, or worse. In that day, their home country of Israel was occupied by the Romans; hence, Israelites had to pay taxes to Caesar—something they despised. But speaking ill of Rome or Caesar could bring harsh consequences. On the flip side, if you said good things about Rome, you could be seen by the Jews as a traitor. So, the Jewish leaders used this conflicted situation to paint Jesus into a corner.


God’s Story

Read Mark 12:13-17.


Finding My Story in God’s Story

1. The Jewish leaders buttered up Jesus, first by praising him. When have you been praised, yet felt that it was not genuine or sensed an angle of bias or “special ask” coming?

  • “Hey, Dad, you’re looking great today.… Can I borrow the car?”
  • “Mmm, that smells good…. Dad, can I have some?
  • “Dad, you’re the best coach around…. When can I get in the game?
  • Other __________. (Share your story).


2. How would you feel if you were Jesus, and you knew that the religious leaders—people allegedly on your side—are against you?

  • Angry or frustrated. “People who pretend to be religious just upset me.”
  • “They are supposed to be on my side, but they speak against me—why?”
  • “I thought that following God’s call would be smooth sailing.”
  • “I’m right where I want to be, happy to upset the status quo.”
  • Other __________.


3. How would you feel if you were one of the religious leaders of that day and this upstart Jesus character is speaking against you, yet has this huge following?

  • Angry and frustrated. “We can’t get anyone to listen, and this Jesus guy stole our spotlight.”
  • “Hey, God, this is not going according to the traditions I was steeped in!”
  • “Why would God let this happen?”
  • “I secretly love what Jesus is saying, I just can’t admit it.”
  • Other __________.


4. The incident recorded in Mark 12, paying taxes to Caesar, is one of many traps that Jesus encountered. All told, what impresses you about Jesus’ teaching?

  • “I find such answers a great dodge, both alienating and amazing.”
  • “I don’t know much of what Jesus teaches, but I’m curious to learn more.”
  • “He jabs back at his audience. Would the same happen to me if I ask questions in church?”
  • “Jesus sounds mostly good to me, so I’m not sure why he’s considered so controversial.”
  • Other __________.


Our Story

5. Some cheered Jesus, while others persecuted him. Where are you on that spectrum?

  • “I want to read more stories about Jesus and decide for myself.”
  • “I want to stay in this group, as long as I can speak up and even be contrarian.”
  • “I want to invite others to join this group, as I welcome diversity.”
  • “I want to be less like the hypocrites who say one thing but do another.”
  • “I feel like giving up, as I’ll never understand Jesus the Radical.”
  • Other __________.


6. Jesus says, “Give Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s” (Mark 12:17). What truth does that paradoxical saying affirm?

  • There are laws created by men and there are God’s laws; obey them both.
  • Pay your taxes and use the rest of the money for things that God cares about.
  • Leaves me wondering what God wants me to do with my after-tax money.
  • I had heard this saying before, but I had no idea it was from the Bible or what it meant.
  • If I had to venture a guess as to what that saying means today, I’d say __________.


7. This week I will:

  • Devise a plan to pay back what I still owe (taxes, child support, a loan).
  • Consider donating more to a church or agency doing God’s work.
  • Read my Bible daily, so I can understand more about Jesus.
  • Pray for understanding of what it means to “give to God that which is God’s.”
  • Other __________.


8. How can you help someone this week who feels out of place in their faith journey?

  • Tell them that I see Christ in them, or in an action they just performed.
  • Text someone I know who’s having trouble—and somehow reference my faith.
  • Read the Bible and share what I’m learning with another person that day.
  • Other (big or small) action that gives credit to God, not me __________.


9. Close your group time in prayer. Be sure to pray for next steps identified in questions #5, #7 and #8.