-The parables continue as Jesus addresses the Jerusalem crowd right before His crucifixion. The parable of the vineyard and the annihilated son projects the LORD’s view of the unresponsive religious and political elite to His ordained prophets and messengers including the Incarnate Son. It is interesting that the religious leaders understood that He spoke the parable against them. They wanted to seize Him, but they feared the people. “The Stone which the builders rejected, this became the Chief Cornerstone; this came about from the LORD and it is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:22-23, Mark 12:1-12).”
-The religious leaders then sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus in another attempt to trap Him in His words. This is the great episode where they inquire about the Roman poll-tax that so infuriated the Jewish populace. They wanted to either turn the people against Him if He said yes to the question, or bring an accusation of treason and rebellion against Rome if He said no. Jesus, “knowing their hypocrisy,” had them bring a denarius (a day’s wage) and asked whose inscription was on it. When they rightly replied “Caesar’s,” He uttered these famous words, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The crowd was amazed at His wisdom in the answer. His intellect and quick wit was impeccable. He was the perfect Lamb of God (Mark 12:13-17). Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, then quizzed Him about the marriage of seven brothers to one woman under the Law and how that would apply in the afterlife. Jesus took advantage of this opportunity to teach on the other realm and how to properly interpret Scripture. First, He let them know that there is neither marrying or giving in marriage in Heaven, but individuals would be “like angels.” Secondly, He pointed to the tense of the text in the Old Testament writings of Moses to prove that God is the God of the living, not the dead. The Sadducees were greatly mistaken in their theology, and Jesus rightly corrects their fallacy. This proves that Jesus is a verbal-plenary advocate in interpreting the Word of God (Mark 12:18-27). One of the scribes who had come up upon the discussion recognized that He had answered the Sadducees well. This inquisitive individual asked what the greatest command in the Law was. Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is One LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’” When the scribe agreed with Him and made the comment that these essentials were “much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices,” Jesus recognized his intelligence and said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” After this, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions (Mark 12:28-34).
-Jesus was then teaching in the Temple posing the question, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My Right Hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your Feet.’ David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” The crowd loved these deep questions and hung on every word He was speaking (Mark 12:35-37). He was explaining the concept of Messiah plainly written about in the Old Covenant for any who wanted to know the truth.
-He continued with a scathing rebuke of the hypocrisy of the religious elite who like the look of holiness only for their own personal benefit. He called them out for their lust for power and respect in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, while really they were devouring widows’ houses. The Lord told his audience to “beware” of them (Mark 12:38-40). Now He made a point on real sacrificial giving when He observed the scene at the Temple treasury. The rich were putting in their large sums, but this didn’t impress the Christ. Calling His disciples to Him, He explained after seeing a poor widow put two copper coins amounting to about a cent, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on (Mark 12:41-44).” Again, God was focused on the heart of holiness, not the appearance of it.
-*Application* How genuine is our faith? Jesus has a way of exposing the real truth doesn’t He?
Verses to Memorize: Mark 12:32-34