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by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, April 14, 2019

Today is Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. This day is called “Palm Sunday” because one week before the first Easter, Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and the people threw palm branches onto the road for Him to ride over. They shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9). But Christ did not set Himself up as King then and there. His mission was to die on the Cross for our sin. And Jesus did not take the multitude as His disciples. Five days later the people would cry “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And Jesus knew it. He knew their shouting was only the emotion of the moment. Jesus was the Son of God. He knew what was in people’s hearts. He knew what they would do. And that brings me to our text this morning. Please turn to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12, verses 12 to 15. It’s on page 1062 in the Scofield Study Bible. I will read all four verses and then read our text, which is from verses 14 and 15. Please listen.

“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. And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 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? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me?” (Mark 12:12-15).

And now look again at verses 14 and 15 as I read our text.

“Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me?” (Mark 12:14, 15).

A few days before the first Easter, some people asked Jesus a trick question. “Shall we pay our taxes to Rome, or not?” If Jesus said “no,” they would report him to the governor. But Christ knew it was a trick. The Bible says that He knew “their hypocrisy.” He told them to pay their taxes and then rebuked them for not honoring God, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's” (Mark 12:17). They “marvelled at him” (12:17) and could not accuse Him of anything. They couldn’t trick Jesus. They couldn’t hide their thoughts from Him. He knew what they were thinking.

Jesus gave a wise answer. Yes, a smart man could have seen it was a trick question. But Jesus was much more than a smart man. He had supernatural knowledge. The Bible says, “He knew what was in man” (John 2:25). Jesus was God the Son. Because He was God the Son, Jesus knew everything. He was omniscient – He knew everything. He knew what people had done before He met them. He knew their thoughts. He knew everything.

One day Christ met a woman. He had never talked with her before. But He said to her,

“Go, call thy husband, and come hither...The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her...thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband” (John 4:16-18).

Jesus had never seen her before. But He knew that she had had five husbands, and she was living with a man who was not her husband. He was omniscient. He knew everything she had done.

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Jesus knows everything that people will do. The night before Jesus was crucified, Peter said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death” (Luke 22:33). But Jesus answered, “This night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Matthew 26:34). And Peter did exactly that. Christ was arrested that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus knew what Peter would do. Jesus is the Son of God. He is omniscient. He knows everything.

Because Jesus is God the Son, He knows everything. So does God the Father. He knows what people do, even if no one else knows. And He knows what people think, even what they think in secret and tell no one about. He knows all your thoughts. You think your thoughts are secret. There are things you don’t tell anyone about, things you wouldn’t want anyone to know. But nothing is hidden! All is uncovered! This morning I’m going to bring out three points about that.

I. First, the private thoughts of people in ancient times were not private.

Is Jesus a mind reader? Yes! After all, He is God the Son. He sees everything and He knows everything. He knows everyone’s mind. Yes, He can read your mind. He knows your heart.

Jesus healed a man. But “certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth” (Matthew 9:3). The scribes didn’t say anything out loud. It was all “within themselves.” But the Bible says,

“Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4).

Christ knew what they were thinking. Again, the Bible says,

“The scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts” (Luke 6:7, 8).

Jesus knows what people are thinking. He knows what they feel. He knows what they are like in the deepest core of their soul. The Bible says,

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).

Many people “believed in” Jesus when they saw Him do miracles. But Jesus did not trust them. He did not “commit himself unto them.” He knew their belief was only mental, based on excitement over the miracles. They did not trust Him, and Jesus knew it. The Bible says, “He knew what was in man” (John 2:25).

Jesus knows people’s hearts. People like to say they love God. That’s what they said when Christ was on earth. But He said, “I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you” (John 5:42).

Jesus knew exactly what people were like. He knew their hearts. He said,

“There are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him” (John 6:64).

Christ knew it all ahead of time. And He knew the wickedness of man. He said to the Disciples, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70).

Notice that Jesus didn’t tell people how good their hearts were. Christ did not teach people “self esteem.” Today people like to say they’re good inside. Sure, they make some mistakes and they’re not perfect, but they’re basically good. That’s what you hear in the schools – that human nature is good. But Jesus said nothing of that. He knew that the heart is “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). He knew that “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). He knew that “There is none that seeketh after God... there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:11, 12). So He couldn’t tell people, “You love God and you love other people. You’re good.” It wasn’t true. Jesus told the truth. He told people they were bad. And so are you.

II. Second, your private thoughts today are not private.

Your heart is wide open – and God knows all about it. To you, it’s the most secret place you have. You keep your private thoughts there – the ones you don’t tell other people about. In your heart is what you really think. In your heart is what you really like and what you really want. On the outside, you appear nice. But inside are anger, lust, bitterness, greed, selfishness and a thousand other evils. Jesus said,

“From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).

That’s what’s in your heart! And all the thoughts of your heart are wide open before God. As David said,

“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off” (Psalm 139:1, 2).

The Bible says, “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man” (Psalm 94:11). Again, the Bible says, “He knoweth the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21).

God knows all the thoughts of your heart. What does He see there? The Bible says,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Your heart is deceitful (tricky, dishonest) and desperately wicked. There’s nothing good about your heart. Remember your thoughts and desires. Remember the things you’ve thought about. Remember the things you want to do that you shouldn’t do. Think of your anger. Remember your selfishness. Think of all the other sin in your heart. Would you want your mother to know? Would you want all your thoughts played out on a long video for everyone to know? You wouldn’t like that. The things you think about. The things you want to do. Anger. Sexual sin. Greed. Selfishness. So many others. And none of it is hidden from God. He sees it all and He knows it all. The Bible says,

“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).

A modern translation of that verse says,

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him [God] to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13 NIV).

At the Last Judgment, your whole life will be played like a long video. Everything will be uncovered and laid bare. You will give an account for the thoughts of your sinful heart. What will you say then?

III. Third, what can you do about your thoughts?

You may say, “I’ll clean up my thoughts. I’ll stop the bad thoughts and think only good ones.” That sounds nice, but you can’t do it. No one ever has, and no one ever will. Your very nature is “dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5). Your heart and mind are “enmity against God” (Romans 8:7).

You can’t make yourself good inside. The Old Testament says, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one” (Job 14:4). You can’t make yourself clean. And the New Testament says,

“[Your mind] is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be...[you] that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7, 8).

You cannot please God. You can’t make yourself into a good person. You can’t change your thoughts.

Someone says, “Yes, I can change my thoughts.” I say, “Try it.” I tried and failed. Have you ever tried to change yourself inside? You can’t keep it up for very long! You can’t do it. It won’t work.

Instead, you must have your thoughts hidden, covered – so you won’t be judged for them. You can’t change your thoughts. They’re still there, try as you may. And they will always be there. You’ve got to escape judgment even though your thoughts are still there. You must get them to be hidden. You need your thoughts to be covered. David prayed,

Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities” (Psalm 51:9).

And the Apostle Paul wrote,

“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute [count] sin” (Romans 4:7, 8).

Christ died to pay for your sin. He gave His Blood to cover your sin and wash it away in the sight of God. If you trust Jesus, your sin will be covered. You will escape God’s judgment. That’s why the Bible says,

“Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

And the Bible says,

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

What can you do? Trust Jesus today! His Blood will cover all your sin. If you would like to speak with me about trusting Jesus, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” (by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778).



by Dr. C. L. Cagan

“Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me?” (Mark 12:14, 15).

(Mark 12:17; John 2:25; 4:16-18; Luke 22:33; Matthew 26:34)

I.    First, the private thoughts of people in ancient times were not private,
Matthew 9:3, 4; Luke 6:7, 8; John 2:25; 5:42; 6:64, 70;
Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10, 11, 12.

II.   Second, your private thoughts today are not private, Mark 7:21-23;
Psalm 139:1, 2; Psalm 94:11; Psalm 44:21; Jeremiah 17:9;
Hebrews 4:13.

III.  Third, what can you do about your thoughts? Ephesians 2:5;
Romans 8:7; Job 14:4; Romans 8:7, 8; Psalm 51:9;
Romans 4:7, 8; 5:9; I John 1:7.