Mark 12:16

And, when they had brought it, he asked, “Whose head and title are these?”


you ask after Law
you ask before Caesar

which ascends
which bows

in a zero-sum game
there must be a loser

in naming one
the other will bite

have you stopped
beating your spouse

all Cretans are liars
except for me

being shown Caesar
we are asked to say Law

Big Brother couldn’t have laid
a better test of hate love


Jesus’ pedagogical strategy is to break the spell of credulity that the social order casts over its subjects and so to force a crisis of faith. He engages the disciple-reader with disturbing and disrupting quandaries that animate toward change, rather than with logically satisfying answers that pacify. Might this suggest that the church’s own theological discourse should be less declarative and more interrogatory?

This quote from Myers155 raises an important question about the difference between our seeking answers that quiet or investigating our responses to situations and more actively engage life. Use of a Socratic methodology grows disciples who can stand on their own as opposed to sycophants who are always looking back to their teacher looking to see if they got it right. Being able to deal with what is in front of us is more healthy for ourselves and helpful for others than carrying the past along as though it were a Procrustean Bed forcing every today and tomorrow into its shape and size.

Beyond looking at the image of the coin with a head and inscription (“Tiberius Augustus Caesar, son of the divine Augustus”) a Jewish Jesus would also be reflecting on “image” as it has come to us from Genesis. Sabin1163 notes: “Mark is working with the intersection of all these traditions when he shows Jesus to be, at one and the same time, ben ’adam—common humanity—and the very likeness of God.”

It is helpful to carry this image question with us outside our reading. Mark helps us make this an everyday question of who is trying to shape our image into theirs and has political implications.

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