The Gathering Church Pastor Barry: The Gospel of Mark (naked runner series) #20
In Error Mark 12:18-27
The Sadducees were a sect or group of religious Jews that was active in Judea during the time of Jesus until after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. The Jewish people of the day held the teachings of the Sadducees in high esteem, however much of their teachings were in error. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, afterlife, or angels and demons, so when they confronted Jesus with a question about marriage and the resurrection it was simply their way of mocking him before a crowd. Jesus, however, showed both good humor and scriptural mastery in his answer. He told them that they did not know the Scriptures (which they prided themselves on) or the power of God. He matter-of-factly stated the reality of all the things that they did not believe and then used a line from Moses (which they were familiar with) to reveal the error of their disbelief in eternal life which was the basis of their mockery in the first place. The structure of verse: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” proved the point that God spoke of all of those men in the present, revealing himself as the God of the living. A Sadducee was well studied in the law and its literal meaning. How quiet they must have all become when Jesus shut down their years of doctrinal study with a one liner of truth.
What is one to do when confronted with a truth that shatters a held belief formulated through years of study? One can either pursue that truth and follow it to its logical conclusion or utterly deny it. The Sadducees went on to join with their rivals, the Pharisees, and plot the death of Jesus. How surprised they must have been to hear that he had risen from the dead! Let us never forget it is “the truth” that sets us free (John 8:32). Jesus proclaimed that he is “the Truth” (John 14:6). He calls each of us to “seek to find”, to “knock for an opening” (Matthew 7:7-8), but Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
The Greatest Commandment Mark 12:28-34, John 13:34-35
While the mouths of the Sadducees were still shut in stunned silence, one of the teachers of the law (Scribe) asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. Jesus of course, as any Jew would, quoted the Jewish Shema (sha-ma): the command from Moses to the children of Israel who had been led out of the land of slavery and into the Promised Land (recorded in Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Jesus, however, added a line: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. The scribe concurred with Jesus. The logical conclusion to loving God with all of one’s Heart (emotions), Soul (body) and Strength (mind) is to submit in every way to His will. Throughout the scriptures Jesus and his apostles clearly illustrate that the will of God is to love others as Christ has loved us. To love God and others in such a way requires death of one’s self. The truest love for God is to Love Jesus until there is absolutely nothing left of self.
NOTE: The varied translations from Hebrew to Greek to English of the Shema create different words to describe emotion, body and mind; however, these three are the intent of the law.
The concept of “dying to self” is found throughout the New Testament. It expresses the true essence of the Christian life, in which we take up our cross and follow Christ. One cannot truly love others as Christ loves us without dying to self. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, that which pleases God.
When Jesus told the Scribe that he was “not far from the kingdom of God” In essence he was saying that the man understood God’s will. Remember how Jesus taught us to pray? “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. (Matthew 6:10). “Thy will” not “my will”!
“From then on no one dared ask him anymore questions”, says Mark. Those people were shut up because they realized that their love for God was shallow…is yours? The Apostle Paul said “to live is Christ to die is gain”(Philippians 1:21). May we all Love Jesus until there is absolutely nothing left of self.
The Temple Courts and a Widow’s Mite Mark 12:35-40, 41-44
“Son of David, save us (Hosanna)!”, Remember, the people shouted that as Jesus entered The Beautiful Gate days earlier on a donkey in that parade. “Son of David” was a common way to say Messiah (lit. the promised one who comes through the genealogical line of King David). Now Jesus sat in that same court (the one that he chased the money changers out of) and asked those listening to him to understand that he was more than just the promised Messiah (“Son of David”) but King David’s Lord!
As he taught the teachers of the law walked about with flowing robes. They along with the Pharisees and Sadducees loved the praises of men, took advantage of widow’s inheritances, and prided themselves on the respect they gained from other superficial men. Jesus warned his listeners of their hypocrisy and the punishment from God that they would one day receive.
In this same court Jesus watched such men make show of their offerings to the Temple treasury. Scattered around the court area was at least thirteen trumpet shaped boxes for receiving monetary offerings from the people. The rich threw in large amounts out of their accumulated wealth but Jesus was impressed with a widow who came and dropped in her last remaining coins. She gave everything she had to live on, but she gave it because she truly loved God. How do you give to the Lord’s work and why—or do you give anything at all?
Mistaken (Create in me a clean heart, O God) Psalm 51:10-13
We are mistaken when, like the Sadducees, we refuse to change when Jesus reveals the truth to us. We are mistaken when we say we love God yet are consumed with our own selfishness. We are mistaken when we neglect to see Jesus as anything less than Lord (Master). We are mistaken when we think that God is impressed with our gifts when they do not come from our deep love for him. Let us not be content to live with such mistakes but die to love him all the more!