3rd July 2023
Read - Mark 12:13-17 (focus v13)
Message Alan Burke
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It comes from the Latin phrase “"Amicus meus, inimicus inimici mei" which means "my friend, the enemy of my enemy”. I don’t think it needs to much explaining, it means that two parties can or should work together against a common enemy. We see this is politics, in the workplace and on the world stage. We also see this here with the Pharisees and Herodians being sent to Jesus. Also take note that this encounter comes on the same day as chief priests, the scribes and the elders those who made up the Sanhedrin had challenged Jesus’ authority Jesus responded by telling them the parable of the Tenants about them but they were afraid to do anything because of the crowd so they left with their tails between their legs.
A few hours later they think it’s worth having another crack at their Jesus problem so they send the Pharisees and the Herodians. The Pharisees and the Herodians were two groups that hated teach other and they came together for what they had perceived as the common good. It was ultimately a coming together for their common hatred of Jesus as they sought to set a trap for him. This leads to the third confrontation in a row and the second time that they try to trap Jesus.
The Pharisees were conservative Jews who believed that they could keep every law that God had given his people, and they had a contempt for those who were not like them, they saw others as sinful and looked down at them and they kept themselves separate from others. That separation from others is where you get the name Pharisee it means separate, or detached. Neither did these Pharisees like Rome, they hated the Roman occupation and everyone who supported it.
Then we have the Herodians, the name should give us some clues of who they were, Herod after all was in charge. The Herodians they were a non religious political group, basically a political party who, unlike the Pharisees were its supporters of Herod and the Roman authorities. The Herodians were despised by many Jews, they were despised by the Pharisees because of their willingness to work the corrupt Herod, they were diametrically opposed on everything, well except one thing, or rather one person. This is a strange alliance borne out of mutual hatred for Jesus, in their case ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’. They come together we are told to catch/trap Jesus, they were seeking to entrap him by his words. Mark is conveying to us that this was anything but a friendly encounter, they wanted to end Jesus and they were hoping that his words here would be enough to do it.
We will focus on what comes next later in the week but for now what I want to draw out of this for us, that is the working relationship between the Pharisees and the Herodians. These two groups, came together because of their mutual hatred of Jesus, they formed an alliance that made them look beyond their own mutual dislike for each other to their common hatred of Jesus. In this response to the person and work of Jesus Christ we see in the Gospel and time and time again, it is a response to the Gospel throughout the New Testament and we see it today.
Here is what I mean by that, the gospel brings people together! It brings people together in two different ways. On one hand it brings people together who oppose gospel, the Pharisees and the Herodians are an example of that, but the gospel also brings people together who have responded to it. That is what it does, it causes these two reactions, either negatively as people reject the person and work of Jesus Christ or they respond positively as people who hear the gospel and accept it. When it happens in the positive sense of bringing those together who have responded positively as the Lord has worked within them you see something wonderful happen, you see people who have little in common united together for their love of the Lord. They come together in their desire to see people come to know the Lord and while they may have little or even nothing in common they share a love for the Lord Jesus Christ, they are now united in Him. What a wonderful truth for us, I have met many people across this world, even the other night at an ordination from different corners of the globe and what unites us is that we are children of the living God, bothers and sisters.
Q88 What are the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to usthe benefits of redemption?
The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation. (Matt. 28:19–20, Acts 2:42,46–47)