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Lectio Divina “utterly”

Lectio Divina “utterly”

Gospel reading: Mark 12.13-17

Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?’ But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, ‘Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.’ And they brought one. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were utterly amazed at him.


Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to try and trap Jesus with the question about whether it was lawful to pay taxes to the Roman emperor. But Jesus wrong-footed them by showing them a coin with the emperor’s head on it and saying, ” ‘Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were utterly amazed at him.”

Even they who were not Jesus’ friends or allies were ‘utterly amazed’ at him. The Greek here attaches the prefix ex- ‘from, out of’ to the verb thaumazó, ‘to marvel, wonder’. Thaumazó can have both positive and negative connotations. Earlier in the Gospel account, the people of the Decapolis were amazed at Jesus’ healing of the demoniac, but then Jesus was amazed at the unbelief of the people in his home town (Mark 5.20, 6.6).

Given the prefix, I take the meaning to be positive. They were people of wonder, flowing out of them. For a time they were emptied of any suspicion and ego, so that there was nothing in them that was not wonder. They were utterly, totally, and completely amazed, without holding anything back.

The last verse of the hymn to the tune ‘O Waly Waly’ includes the line ‘[God] loves beyond our uttermost’. God knows us totally and completely, both the light in us and our uttermost darkness. And God loves us, totally, completely, utterly, and beyond that. The line always makes me tear up when I sing it, because it touches the wellspring of a deep truth.

In response, can I mirror that love? Can I love God utterly and completely, holding nothing back, so there is no part of me that does not love God? It is a work in progress!


Since April 2020, I have been jointly hosting a shared Lectio Divina group on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. These are my reflections only, during the prayer session and as I wrote them up. Please see my separate commentary and leaflet for more information about shared Lectio.