Mark 12: 1-44
- Jesus is in the temple courts and speaks to 3 groups-- the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders of Israel a parable of a man who planted a vineyard and then rented it to some tenant farmers.
- The vineyard owner sent many servants to collect some of the fruit from the vineyard as rent yet the farmers repeatedly either they beat or killed these servants
- Finally the vineyard owner sends his son who the farmers also kill
- Jesus then rebukes Israel’s leaders and tells them the vineyard owner will therefore come and kill the tenant farmers and give the vineyard to others.
- Israel’s leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they knew they were the tenant farmers in the parable yet because they were afraid of the crowd they just went away
- Then 2 more groups (Pharisees and Herodians) attempt to undermine Jesus by asking him if it’s right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar?
- Jesus knowing they were trying to trap them looks at a denarius coin which bears the image of Caesar and replied ““Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” His response amazed them.
- Finally a 6th group, the Sadducees, present Jesus with a complex story and question about marriage at the resurrection (which the Sadducees believe does not exist)
- Jesus rebukes this 6th group for not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God.
- The last person to approach Jesus in the temple courts is a teacher of the law who asks Jesus what is the most important commandment?
- Jesus replies with the well known Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
- Jesus then offers an unsolicited second most important commandment – love your neighbor as yourself.
- The teacher affirms Jesus’ response and adds that these commandments are more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.
- Jesus then affirms his response by saying, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
- No one else dared to ask Jesus any more questions yet while Jesus was teaching he asked the large crowds about whose Son is the Messiah.
- Jesus then warns the crowd about the teachers of the law who care more about actions that build up their status at the expense of widows and therefore such men will be punished most severely
- Jesus then observed the people putting their money into the temple treasury and sees a poor widow out in two pennies and tells his disciples that the widow put in more than all the others who gave out of their wealth which required little sacrifice of them but the widow truly sacrificed by putting in everything that she had to live on.
It’s easy to see the first six groups approaching Jesus with pride, malice and wrong motives because he’s undermining their popularity with the people… yet, how would I respond if a young church planter came to Sunnyvale expecting spiritual fruit from our vineyard or what if he gained a more popular following with the people while rebuking various groups of Christian leaders in our area? Is my heart-skin soft to the new wine God is pouring out today?
What are the equivalent burnt offerings and sacrifices that I’m valuing more than loving God and loving neighbors? Our valley treasures vocational success (as well as your kids success), performance and wealth and therefore we will rarely sacrifice our time or material possessions to the point of undermining our success and wealth and yet we see a poor widow do the opposite. How is God asking me to sacrifice and let go of anything beyond loving Him and loving our neighbor?
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word and how you demonstrate grace and truth throughout the gospel of Mark. Father, make us a people who treasure loving you, one another and our neighbors. May we hold everything else in our lives with little affection so we are not easily distracted from obeying you. Show each of us what might be our “two copper pennies” of time and treasure that we can give by faith knowing you are our provider. May our love for one another truly be an indicator that we are walking in the dust of our master as your disciples. In Jesus name,
Posted on Thu, July 30, 2015
by Brian Landers