The Gathering, Pastor Barry: Gospel of Mark (memoirs of a naked runner series) #19
An Unanswered Question Mark 11:27-33, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 12:1-2
Once again Jesus and his disciples arrived in Jerusalem and walked into the temple courts where Jesus had driven out the money changers and animals the day before. There are two things are of interest here that might otherwise escape a readers notice. Firstly, no money changers or animals were in the temple courts this day or Jesus would have certainly driven them out again. Secondly, The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders were all there to meet him. Remember…they were not there to “greet” him, but to meet him. They feared him and were looking for a way to kill him (Mark 11:18). It was just a matter of how and when. That problem would be solved with the aid of the traitor Judas in just a couple of days. The question they asked him about his authority in verse 28 was directly related to the events of his cleansing of the temple the day before: “By what authority are you doing these things?” The religious leaders believed themselves to be superior to Jesus by their religious education and social standing alone. Their question was accusatory.
People then and now put way too much importance on meeting man’s qualifications for spiritual authority rather than God’s. Many consider a modernist theologian who graduated from Harvard Divinity School as being more worth listening to than a fisherman who has studied and believed the Scriptures (remember Peter, James and John were of the later). Even worse still, our society places more value on an atheist with a doctorate degree or a mere celebrity than on a disciple of Christ who holds to the teachings of Jesus. We must not be so foolish; but rather let the Scriptures be our authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus is the founder of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2) and we must follow his lead.
Jesus knew that the religious teachers had already made their minds up to kill him and were simply mocking him with such a question. Turning things around Jesus ask the religious leaders a question that he knew they wouldn’t answer. In essence he asked “was John’s ministry from heaven or from his head?” The crowd believed that John was the heaven sent prophet who announced the long awaited Messiah of whom the scriptures prophesied. The religious teachers did not believe this or they would have believed in Jesus who John introduced. They were actually glad that king Herod had killed him. They believed that John’s ministry was in his head and that John was crazy, but they couldn’t say so or they would be discredited by the people. Like so many celebrity religious leaders and politicians today, it was not politically expedient for them to tell the truth so they refused to answer. Jesus therefore refused to answer their question…or did he?
The Vineyard Owner and his Son Mark 12:1-12, Psalm 118:20-26, Hebrews 10:26-31, Acts 4:10-12
Actually Jesus did explicitly answer the question about where his authority came from after what was likely a great pause following his refusal to answer the religious leaders. Jesus, being a masterful storyteller, engaged the whole crowd, but likely glared at the religious leaders when referring to the villainous farmers who represented them in the story. In short, Jesus had given the history of the Jewish nation (the vineyard) and their corrupt religious leaders who had put the prophets of the ages to death (Matthew 23:37) for bringing the message of repentance and judgment from God (the owner of the vineyard) to them. The son, whom the owner of the vineyard loved, was a picture of Jesus himself, who was sent by the Father to be respected. The glare of Jesus must have intensified and his voice deepen as he revealed the plot of those religious leaders (tenants) to kill him. “What then will the owner (God) of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard (Israel) to others”, growled Jesus. Jesus then abruptly asked the religious leaders a poignant question: “Haven’t you read this passage of scripture: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes?”
Jesus quoted King David from Psalm 118:20-26. A messianic song that was written and sung when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the city of David (Jerusalem). The Ark was an Old Covenant symbol of God’s mercy to his people. Just as Jesus is God’s mercy to sinners. It proclaimed the absolute authority (law, provision, and mercy) of God. It’s no wonder that Jesus ascribed this passage to himself.
The religious leaders knew exactly what Jesus had done with his story. He had proclaimed that his authority was from his father, God and that he was the foundation stone for the building up of all things good. Jesus also proclaimed judgment upon all who would reject him. In Hebrews 10:26-31 the Apostle Paul also proclaimed that same terrible judgment.
In Acts 3 & 4 Peter and John were arrested for the commotion caused when God healed a lame beggar. After spending a night in jail they faced accusations from the chief priest and religious leaders who said “By what power or name did you do this?” “Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified”, Peter answered. He then also quoted this same passage in reference to Jesus (Acts 4:10-12). “Salvation is found in no one else”, proclaimed Peter.
“Give God What is God’s!” Mark 12:13-17, Psalm 24:1-6
After being totally offended and outwitted by Jesus the religious leaders sent for the “big guns” to trap Jesus into being arrested. The Pharisees were a religious party and the Herodians were a political party who’s allegiance was to king Herod and Rome. The next question they asked was to trap Jesus: “Should the Imperial tax be paid to Caesar or not?”
If Jesus was truly the Messiah he surely couldn’t agree with such an unfair tax put only on subject peoples and not on Roman citizens, however, if he was to tell people not to pay the tax he would be arrested and sentenced to death by Rome for usurping the government. Jesus looked at a coin’s inscription of Caesar and said: “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” Not only did Jesus skillfully avoid the trap set for him, but he also proclaimed his authority once again. In the Psalms King David proclaimed that everything is the Lord’s and only those who seek him will be vindicated (cleared of blame).