The Way - Day 103 (Mark 12)

Daily Reading:
Mark 12
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
In verses 28-34, see the scribes response to Jesus's answer.  How did the scribe's question and response differ from the Pharisees?  How did Jesus's response to the scribe differ from the response to the Pharisees?  What do you take away from this?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 34:8
OPTION 2: Proverbs 15:1-2
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:43-44
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Mark 12 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Mark 12:1-12
After Jesus' encounter with the scribes and Pharisees in Mark 11:27-33, He gives them the parable of the vineyard owner. A man (represents God) plants a vineyard (represents Israel) and leased it to vine dressers (represents Jewish leadership). When the grapes were ready for harvest, the man sent his servant (represents Old Testament prophets) to gather some fruit of the vineyard (12:2). The servant was beaten and sent away with nothing (12:3). So the vineyard owner sent another servant and they stoned him and sent him away also (12:4). The man sent many more servants but each one was rejected (12:5). After all the servants had been turned away, the vineyard owner decided to send his only son (represents Jesus Christ) thinking they would respect his authority (12:6). However, the vine dressers killed the man's son also (12:7-8). Jesus then asks the scribes and Pharisees, "Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do?" Quickly answering His own question Jesus says, "He will come and destroy the vine dressers, and give the vineyard to others" (12:9). In essence, Jesus was explaining that God had entrusted His message to the nation of Israel using prophets to proclaim it; however, over and over the nation of Israel rejected His message spoken through the prophets. Finally God sent His Son, Jesus, to be the ultimate manifestation of His message of faith and repentance but the Jewish leaders were about to kill Him also.

Referencing Psalm 118:22-23, Jesus details that the Jewish religious leaders had rejected Him as the chosen One sent from God. Jesus' parable angered the Jewish religious leaders because they knew He was referring to them. "And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude.... So they left Him and went away" (12:12). Instead of recognizing Jesus as the Messiah and repenting of their sinful ways, they rejected the Son of God and from this time forward looked for a way to destroy Him. Jesus dealings with the Jewish leaders should cause us to think about who Jesus really is? If we believe He is not the Son of God, then we are siding with the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day. But if Jesus is truly the promised One of God sent to deliver us from sin, we must repent and follow His ways. Every person must make a choice regarding the identity of Jesus Christ - was He a liar or was He the Son of God?

Mark 12:13-17
After Jesus cleansed the temple of all the thieves (Mark 11:15-19), the religious people became angry and sought a way to destroy Jesus (Mark 11:18). Since they did not agree with Jesus' teachings and He often exposed their erroneous doctrines, they kept asking Him questions to try to get Him to say something out of place. Mainly, the religious leaders were waiting for Jesus to claim His authority from God so they could accuse Him of blasphemy. The Pharisees and Herodians asked Jesus a series of questions hoping "to catch Him in His words" (12:14). Their first question was "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?" Rome taxed the people heavily and the Jewish people despised it. Since they were under Roman rule, the question asked was supposed to be a lose-lose situation. If Jesus answered "yes" the religious crowd would accuse Jesus of dishonoring the Jewish nation because they were only under obligation to God. If he said "no" they would accuse Him of rebellion against Rome. Jesus responds by saying, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (12:17). Jesus eloquently answered declaring that citizens should obey the laws of the land, but should also obey God when it comes to matters of spirituality and morality. Some Christians believe they can avoid any authority because they are first loyal to God; however, Christians have an obligation to be good citizens and follow laws established by government. Obedience to government evidences a humble spirit. As citizens of this great country, we should submit to the authority placed over us while also remembering the moral and spiritual obligations we have to God.

Mark 12:18-34
After the Pharisees had asked Jesus a question about loyalty to God and loyalty to government, the Sadducees come along attempting to catch Jesus saying something out of place. The Sadducees were Jews who only accepted the first five books of the Old Testament as important. One of the things which defined their belief system was that they did not believe in any type of resurrection. In a direct attempt to try to trip Jesus up on His words, they posed a question to Him regarding levirate marriage which Moses wrote about in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. This practice said that the brother of a man who died without a child could marry the widow. Doing this would ensure an heir and that the family name would continue. Obviously this was forbidden if the brother was already married. So presenting this scenario to Jesus, the Sadducees asked Jesus that if there was truly a resurrection, who would this woman be married to in eternity. Jesus answers, "For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (12:25). Relationships will change in heaven and believers will exist in a completely new environment. Jesus then exposes their false view of the resurrection by taking them back to the first five books of the Old Testament and pointing to God's conversation with Moses at the burning bush (12:26). He said, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob." All three of these men were dead at the time of God speaking with Moses, but His very words implied His everlasting fellowship with them in heaven (12:27).

Following a little discussion on Jesus' answer, a scribe steps forward and asks Jesus, "which is the first commandment of all?" Again, the intention was to get Jesus to say something contrary to their belief system. Since the religious leaders had decided that there were more than 600 commandments in the Old Testament law, this question seemed impossible for Jesus to answer. However, Jesus stated that the entire law was based on one great commandment - love for God (12:29-30). Love for God would lead to obedience. Taking it one step further Jesus revealed that the second great commandment was to love others; in other words, love for God results in love for others (12:31). The scribe was impressed with Jesus' answer and verbalizes his belief in what He has said (12:32-33). Jesus says to the scribe, "You are not far from the kingdom of God" (12:34). His expression of belief with his mouth should have lead him to belief in his heart as well as obedience to God's laws. May we all see beyond the commandments in order to see that obedience to God is the evidence of our love for Him.

Mark 12:35-44
The scribes and Pharisees had fired a number of questions at Jesus, but now Jesus decided to pose a question to them. He asked, "How is it that scribes say that the Christ [Messiah] is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: 'The LORD [God's covenant name, Yahweh] said to my Lord [title for God and here refers to the Messiah], sit at my right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.' Therefore David calls him Lord; how is He then his Son?" Jesus was revealing that the promised Messiah was not only man, but also God...and Jesus Christ was that Messiah.

Offering further condemnation to the religious leaders, Jesus exposes them because they "desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers" (12:40). Everything the scribes and Pharisees did was for recognition. Their hearts were far from Him. We must be careful that our motivation for doing religious acts is not to attract attention to ourselves or for selfish gain. Our service to God must flow from a life which has humbled itself before Him and is motivated by a genuine love for God.

As a timely illustration, Jesus was sitting near the treasury at the temple where people gave money (12:41). Those who were rich put in much, but a poor widow gave two mites which was equivalent to a penny in our day. Looking for an opportunity to teach His disciples, Jesus called them to Himself and said, "this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood" (12:44). Her motivation was purely out of love for God and His work while the religious rich just wanted to be recognized so that others thought they were spiritual. It was not the amount of money given which mattered, but the motivation behind the gift.

Dear God, help me to always do Your work out of humble heart. Forgive me for the times I have done things simply for notoriety.