<MARK 11: 12 – 12: 44>
THE SERVANT-PROPHET :
The Question of Authority . This was constantly on the minds of the Jewish leaders not because they were genuinely seeking the truth, but rather to have a reason to arrest Jesus. Today, this question of authority still exists by those who refuse to bow to the claims of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. They continuously question the divinity of Christ and the accuracy of the Scriptures. Such people will do everything in their power to silence those who uphold the Scriptures and proclaim the teachings of Christ . We must all be aware of the fact that God never reveals any new scriptural truth to us until we have accepted what He has already revealed, or has attempted to reveal to us . Those who choose to do God’s will, discover the truth in Jesus Christ.
The Parable of the Tenants (or the Vineyard): “they knew he had spoken the parable against them” . How did they know? The vine was a familiar reference to the nation of Israel and the Jewish leaders were well aware of this because of their knowledge of the O.T. Scriptures; conscious of what Jesus’ parable meant. Wanting to claim the Vineyard for themselves , hence their question of authority and their quest for complete ownership; they could not tolerate any competition. They were determined to preserve their own position even if it meant killing the Son, which was determined prior to the present confrontation . Not only did they reject the Son, they also refused the Stone, . This is a further quotation from Psa. 118:22 already quoted during the triumphal entry .
Opposition to Paying Taxes : Nothing new, as every citizen of every country has at some time sought a way out of paying taxes. Here we see the Herodians supporting the tax, and the Pharisees opposing the tax attempting to trap Jesus . No matter what answer Jesus gave He would offend one group. Jesus’ answer to the question on that day is also the answer to us today.
Will There Be A Resurrection? : Not a question of marriage in the resurrection, but was an attempt to ridicule the resurrection, since the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead . Jesus accuses them of being ignorant of the very writings of Scripture by Moses that they accepted , since the resurrection was referred to in the Book of Moses , indicating that the promise of a resurrection was made and that promise would be kept, first by the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ Himself . The resurrection will bring about a state of perfection, where marriage will not be necessary; therefore they were “badly mistaken” .
The Most Important Commandment <12:28-34>: Jesus did not imply that the other eight commandments were not important or of any less value. Our Lord is teaching that these two commandments are the foundation for the other eight . What then did Jesus mean by this? Paul explains this in his letter to the Roman believers <Rom.13:8-10> and is further explained in John’s letter ; genuine love for God will be displayed in our relationship with our friends and neighbours.
Is Messiah David’s Son, David’s Lord or Both? : The answer, although not understood by the large crowd was accepted by them; but the Pharisees had no response. The Lord Jesus Himself was indeed the answer to the question. He was a descendant or son of David in His humanity and at the same time the Son of God or David’s Lord in His divinity .
Watch Out For the Counterfeits <12:38-40>: If there was any identity crisis in this situation it was definitely not Jesus’ problem: He knew who He was and there was no counterfeit in His life or personality. The ones with the identity crisis were the teachers of the Law or the Scribes. They were outwardly religious; had that sanctimonious appearance; thought that a prominent position in the synagogue had something to do with godliness; and desired social distinction : inwardly they were greedy and insincere; their prayers were words only , in all of this they displayed a dual identity.
The Widow’s Offering : This indeed is true sacrifice; this was what the Passover was all about; one must set aside a lamb that had been carefully kept and watched, a lamb that had no doubt become a part of the person (as all pets become). For some people this could mean all they possessed. This is the gift that we should offer to God, not what we have purchased or accomplished, but what God has given to us.
CONCLUSION: The triumphant King has come into His city, and has made it clear that His presence is not for any political purpose but rather for a religious or spiritual challenge to the leaders of the Nation. Displayed in the cleansing of the Temple and the restoration of the court of the Gentiles to what it was originally designed for –worship by the Gentile people; heralding the future day when Jew and Gentile would worship the One True God together. In the Temple he healed the sick, restored sight to blind eyes and taught the large throngs of people. He severely reprimanded the Scribes and Pharisees who “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel”, who cloaked their iniquity under a show of righteousness, and tried to trick Him with the “tax question”. As this section ends there are three pointed statements made by Jesus which I would now like to leave with you.
1] “Give to ………God what is God’s.” . What does God require from us? Firstly, He requires that we give back what He has given to us, namely our life. Have you surrendered your life to Christ? Can you truthfully say that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? If you have not, then you are robbing God of what is rightfully His; and until this step is taken nothing else matters in this life. If you can truthfully say that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your saviour, then have you crowned Him “Lord of your life?”? If not you are guilty of withholding from God what is rightfully His. I would encourage you to honour God in these two steps if you have not done so, since God will one day ensure that all men everywhere does so willingly or otherwise.
2] “To love (God)………..and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Here we are told to love God more than ourselves and our neighbour as ourselves. This is more important than a public display of piety without an inward personal holiness, since God is concerned with what we are inwardly as well as outwardly. How do you measure up to this statement? True love for God will be reflected in our attitude to each other on the human level!
3] “she…. put in everything– all she had to live on.” Do you give to God with such a sacrificial attitude? Such giving can only be the result of our “giving ourselves”wholeheartedly to God . God is not interested in our temporal giving if we have not surrendered ourselves to His will. Then, and only then, will we appreciably give of our time and financial resources with which God has blessed us. “A sacrifice is something really given to God. We cannot take it back again. A man could not lay a lamb on God’s altar and in a few minutes come and reclaim it. So we cannot be God’s today and our own tomorrow. We are always His or not at all. We are to give ourselves, a living sacrifice”. (Really Given to God – Knights p112)