Mark 12 – New Testament in a Year
Mark maybe the shortest Gospel with only 16 chapters, but some like todays are long and power packed!
The Parable of the tenants
The story of the vineyard and its’ tenants is the story of Israel over the previous 1500 years.
The vineyard is the land of Israel they were given, which had a hedge of protection round it. It was a good land, that bore good fruit. God was patient with them – they kept falling away and God kept sending prophets to bring them back. But they were mocked and sent away – “They mocked God’s messengers, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets.” 2 Chronicles 36:16. That went on for hundreds of years until the Lord disciplined them with the exile.
The Israelites were hard hearted – “The sinful mind iis hostile to God” Romans 8:7. Finally God sent His Son – holy, undefiled, going about doing good. Yet the would not have him and would at last kill him.
The Jewish leaders knew the story was about them, their consciences were pricked and yet they remained unrepentant.
The rest of the chapter deals with different Jewish religious leadership groups trying to trap and trick Jesus
The first group that comes are Pharisees and Herodians. Pharisess were the hardline law keeping religious leaders, the Herodians were worldly non religious people – opposites attract against enemies! The question is subtle and clever – “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” – If Jesus says yes, the Pharisees would accuse him of being subject to Rome. If Jesus says no, then the Herodians would accuse him of rebellion against Rome. It’s a clever trap. Jesus saw through it and asked them to get a coin that they use frequently. Asking whose inscription is on it means that they have confessed that they are under Roman rule too. So Jesus can silence them with “Give to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God’s”
Because they use the money they are showing they are bound to temporal Roman rule. And they should obey God in the spiritual things.
Earthly authorities are established by God (Romans 13:1) and should be obeyed!
The next group to come are the Saducees. When I was at school we were taught they were Sad-U-See because they didn’t believe in the resurection. They too try to trick Jesus witha ridiculous scenario puzzle. They are being argumentative and difficult – sometime it is not worth answering objections if they wont help someone find faith. The Saducees thought they knew Scripture in fact they refused to add to the Law like the Pharisees. Jesus lets them know their understanding of Scripture is deficient.
The third group want to trick Jesus by asking which is the most important commandment. The teachers of the law weren’t very loving to people – so Jesus replies 2 actually!
Love God with every fibre of your being
Love your neighbour as yourself.
The teacher of the law kind of got it – he agreed, so Jesus stated he wasn’t far from the kingdom!
Next Jesus turns the table and asks a question back. He asks them the meaning of Psalm 110:1. Jesus shows how the Old Testament points to Himself and then he points out the legalists hypocrisy of flowing robes and exploiting the poor.
He finishes off by pointing out one of the poor who was being exploited, an old widow. In her poverty she gives all, whereas the Pharisees just give a tenth.
There’s a challenge! The 10% we give to God is meant to be a floor not a ceiling. The apostle Paul challenges us to excel in the grace of giving. Grace empowers us to go beyond the law.