Mark Chapter 12

And he began to speak unto them by parables.

 A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.

And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.

Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.’ And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.

What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.

And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give?

But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.

And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?

He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

After Jesus lays out a parable that even the blind could see, the pharisees and the Sadducees, and a scribe throw everything they can of man’s law and God’s law to trap Jesus. And utterly fail yet again.

The parable though is an interesting one because the rulers certainly knew of the treatment of God’s prophets, and yet they are doing the same toward’s God’s Son who speaks with more authority than even the prophets.  These leaders leave the vineyard’s Lord with no choice but to destroy those whom He would share with and give the vineyard to others.  The stone which they rejected convicts them of the truth and yet they harden their hearts even more.

This attitude is still strong today. They know the truth, and yet harden their hearts so much they’re willing to take anything, no matter how absurd or nonsensical because they despise the thought of Christ being Lord over all and having to answer to someone else for their lives.  They prefer sin in all it’s earthly glory and gratification, power and prestige, and still shake their fists at God.

Pride, jealousy, fear and selfishness all come wrapped in similar packages of deceit , and in the words of Solomon, there is nothing new under the sun.

Moving on, we see that Jesus has a different answer to the scribe,  Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.  This is because while the scribe sees that Jesus’s answers are well said, asks about which is the first commandment.  After Jesus gives him a two part answer, the scribe understands that loving God and each other is more important to God than empty gestures and hard hearted sacrifices.   We see this in action near the end of the chapter with the widow at the public treasury (more on this in a minute).

The scribe was different than others’ Jesus had been dealing with in that he asked politely, and answered discreetly, and Jesus perceives a willingness to learn the truth and therefore encourages him by saying he is close to the kingdom.  Most scribes were obviously learned in letters and the tedious yet important job of drawing up legal documents and copying Old Testament Scriptures.  They were blinded by their prestige as Jesus warns about in the next few verses, already believed they knew everything and yet lacked any understanding or wisdom of what they so carefully copied.

This reminds me of a story about a couple of men our guest speaker at church this past Sunday spoke about.  He is a missionary to Guyana and has a love for the people there, especially the remote tribes.  He spoke about one man who came miles to hear him preach, and afterwards came and told him “I want to be saved”.   The pastor was amazed because he’d never seen this man before, and it’s usual among the people in these areas to be stirred up yet not understand what the Christian terms mean.  He wanted to be sure, but more so he wanted to know how the man named Alan had come to hear about salvation.  Turns out, another man who was from the village that the pastor had taught for a few years in, would leave as soon as the services were over, paddle miles up the river and go share the stories with the people there.  Alan was one of those who’d been hearing the message for a long time.  The funny, yet not really funny part of this is, the man, Dennis who’d been going and sharing the message, was considered the village drunk, and spent most of the meetings ‘sleeping’.  Or so the pastor thought.

Anyway, so here is a man who’d been discipled by the village drunk, and wanted to be saved- and he clearly had an understanding of salvation, and grace through Jesus!  So he made a commitment to Christ and was baptized that same night.  As for Dennis, the pastor asked him if he wanted to be saved, but Dennis said no.  🙁

Dennis has been a minister to these people without even realizing it, just like the scribes passing along the scriptures without the wisdom, heart or desire to understand them.

I’ve got to insert a prayer request for the man Dennis, and all who’ve got the knowledge, but not understanding the amazing gift of Jesus they are denying.

OK Last bit, the widow… this is one of my favorite stories.   Mites in Biblical times were the smallest worth and denomination of coins, and the temple treasury box was in prominent display.  As people would put their coins into it, it made a loud noise, so obviously the larger the amount, the more racket it made going in, making those who put in more, noticed.  And approved of, admired, and honored.

Here comes this widow with her last bits to offer, and what a delicate if even a whisper of a sound they must have made.

There must have been a lot of people in Jerusalem then, being just before Passover. Even today widows are often overlooked by people, especially in other cultures. Back in Biblical days, they were like the least among the people, in the same class as the orphans and the lame. Jesus and his disciples were watching the comings and goings of people, and yet Jesus noticed her!

Why? Other than the fact of her faith; here was a woman in need of charity, yet she had a heart to give. Even though the amount was minute, it was all she had and she gave it in faith that God could use it. Like the widow in the book of 1 Kings 17:7-16, who gave her last meal to Elijah this widow gave away her last bits of money.

She made a sacrifice for God. He doesn’t need money for sure, but in tithing faithfully, she showed that she knew where to store up her treasures – in Heaven, even if her earthly treasures were reduced to two mites.  Jesus noticed her, but also wanted her to be remembered throughout the ages.  We often times notice and praise the famous, rich or important people, but in the end, it’s empty and temporary.  It’s those who make the differences quietly, without expectations of grand notoriety who are and will be remembered by the Lord.

Have a blessed Wednesday all!

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