Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mark 12 - Challenge to Christ's Authority

LINK: Mark 12

Tuesday Morning of Holy Week


191. Evil farmers: Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19

This parable is based on Isaiah 5:1-7. The Jewish leaders are the vinegrowers whom God appointed to bear fruit for His glory, but they did not. The landowner's servants are the prophets and priests who tried to warn Israel. The landowner could have sent armies to destroy them, but he sent his son, and they killed him. Jesus is the Son that was rejected by the Jewish leaders. Just as the son was "cast out" of the vineyard and killed. Jesus was crucified "outside the gate" (Hebrews 13:12-13). 

Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22-23 to clarify this parable. The crowds had just quoted Psalm 118:26 during Jesus' triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, God is often referred to as a rock or stone (Deuteronomy 32:4, 18; 30-31; Psalm 18:2, 31, 46). To Israel, Jesus was a stumbling stone (Isaiah 8:14-15; Romans 9:32-33; 1 Corinthians 1:23). 

Because they were not faithful, God would take the kingdom away from Israel and give it to a people (ethnei) that would produce fruit (Matthew 21:43). Since the Greek word for people/nation is singular, many interpreters think this refers to the church (called a nation in Romans 10:19 and 1 Peter 2:9-10). Others believe the word for "nation/people" means that generation. So the kingdom would be taken away from that particular generation of Israel to be given back at a future generation that would repent (Romans 11:15, 25-27). 

Matthew omitted something in this parable that Mark and Luke include "He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved (Mark 12:6; Luke 20:13). 

This parable would have been greatly understood in the social climate of Palestine. Wealthy landowners from foreign countries leased their estates to tenant farmers with a contractual agreement that a portion of the crop would be paid as rent. Agents would come to collect that rent, and there were always conflicts that arose as a result. 

Jesus' counter question and parables angered the religious leaders, but they were too afraid of the crowd that supported Him to do anything . . . yet.

Religious leaders question Jesus about . . . 

193. Paying taxes: Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26

Like the Sadducees and Pharisees in Matthew 16, these lifelong enemies united against their common enemy: Jesus. The Pharisees were purists who opposed Roman rule, and the Herodians were those who supported the rule of Herod the Great and favored change dictated by Rome. They knew if Jesus answered that it was good to pay taxes to Rome, most of the Jews would consider Him a traitor. If He said they should not be paid, He would be trapped as a rebel against Rome. He solved the dispute by saying that we have "dual citizenship" (1 Peter 2:17) by being a citizen under an authority on earth and a citizen of heaven which requires obedience and commitment to God.  He was saying that we all have political and spiritual responsibilities. He is so smart!!!

194. The Resurrection: Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, Luke 20:27-40

The Sadducees were considered the religious liberals because they did not believe in the resurrection or angels or spirits (Acts 23:8). So, of course, they would try to trap Him in a question about the resurrection, but Jesus knew that they did not know the Scriptures because it taught of the resurrection and that God had the power to bring people back to life. Since the Sadducees believed only in the Pentateuch, He used Exodus 3:6 implying that their patriarchs are alive with God. 

195. The Greatest Commandment: Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34

The Pharisees had over 600 laws and were constantly trying to classify which ones were more important. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 and said all the rest would be fulfilled if they followed these two. 

Mark's gospel adds that loving the Lord with everything and loving one's neighbor as himself are more important than "all burnt offerings and sacrifices" (Mark 12:33). A love relationship with God that overflows with love for people is more important than ritualistic rules. We learned that in quite a few instances in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 15:22; Proverbs 21:3; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8). Mark also adds that Jesus said "You are not far from the kingdom of God" (Mark 12:34) if you understand the love dynamic.  

196. Religious leaders cannot answer Jesus' question: Matthew 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37, Luke 20:41-44

He had silenced His interrogators. Now, He would question them by asking who they thought the Messiah (Christ) was.  Quickly they replied, "the Son of David." Jesus quoted Psalm 110:1 to show that the Messiah would be greater than David. They did not understand He would be God. 

The Mark account adds that the "great crowd enjoyed listening to Him" (Mark 12:37). The Matthew account adds that "no one dared to ask Him any more questions" (Matthew 22:46).  Jesus had silenced all challenges from the different groups of religious leaders: the chief priests and elders (Matthew 21:23-27), the Pharisees and Herodians together (Matthew 22:15-22), the Sadducees (Matthew 22:23-33), and the Pharisees (Matthew 22:34-36).

197. Jesus warns against the religious leaders: Matthew 23:1-12, Mark 12:38-40, Luke 20:45-47
Uploaded on March 12, 2007 by quemas™
Matthew's gospel gives the most thorough account of this event. Jesus goes for the jugular by calling the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees hypocrites. They did everything for show like wearing phylacteries, but they did not practice what they preached.  Phylacteries were little leather boxes containing Scripture that they wore on their forehead and arms in keeping with Deuteronomy 6:8 and Exodus 13:8, 16. Jesus proclaimed that the way to exaltation is via humility. 

200. A poor widow gives all she has: Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4

This widow gave more than the rich because she gave all that she had. 


Look up some of the Old Testament verses referred to in Mark 12:

Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 118:22-23
Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Leviticus 19:18
Psalm 110:1

We have the benefit of the entire New Testament, the Jews of that day did not.  Would you have been able to understand Christ's message based on these verses? 


Pray through Deuteronomy 6:4-5 today:

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
 and with all your soul and with all your might.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-5) 

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