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Saturday, April 13th, 2024
the Second Week after Easter
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Bible Commentaries
Mark 12

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-12

  1. Intro:
    1. I’ve had a number of friends that each have at least one horror story of one of their rental properties. It must be easy for landlords to get fed up with problem tenants. Often the law is on the renters side rather than the owners. Sometimes tenants just stop paying rent & wait for the long process of getting evicted.
      1. This morning we’ll see how Jesus so graciously worked with His tenants that wouldn't pay rent.
    2. Here is Mark’s last recorded parable. [and it was an unusual one]
      1. In consists of a quick review of Israel’s history. God’s Cliff Notes to the Big Picture.
      2. Jesus told it before they had a chance to leave the Temple mount.
      3. It is a parable they understood (12)
        1. The group Jesus is addressing is the same group from 11:27. The Chief Priests, the Scribes, the Elders...the Sanhedrin Interrogators.
        2. Jesus warns them of their hostile intentions & warns them of their consequences.
    3. Outline: The Kindness, Patience, Love, Severity, Triumph, & Grace of God.
    1. ​​​​​​​Background Details:
      1. God is the man who planted the vineyard.
      2. The vineyard was a national symbol for the house of Israel. (Is.5)
      3. Set a hedge were stones piled up.
        1. For protection from thieves - Ps.80:12,13 Why have You broken down her hedges, So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit? The boar out of the woods uproots it, And the wild beast of the field devours it.
      4. Dug a place for the wine vat (winepress; see 3 illus)
        1. In the upper vat is where the grapes were trod.
        2. In the lower area is where they collected the juice. [These were connected by a trough]
      5. Built a tower. This was a 15-20’ high watch tower placed on the top of the terraced hill (also in Is.5:2)
        1. This provided: shelter, protection, security, storage, & a lookout.
      6. The vinedressers - would lease the land (like sharecroppers).
        1. They would cultivate & prune grapevines.
        2. Here Jesus uses it to represent Israel's religious leaders.
      7. The owner went into a far country - He lived abroad. He was an absent landowner which were very common & also were often resented.
    2. Oh one last thing, Jesus was standing at Solomon’s porch, where hung a richly carved grapevine, 70 cubits high, sculpted around the door which led from the porch to the Holy place. (Kent Hughes, pg.94, quoting Rosscup.)
    1. ​​​​​​​Fruit was the issue last chapter also. (w/the Fig Tree & Temple mount)
    2. The owner usually got 1/3 to 1/2 the produce.
      1. It was also not uncommon for rent collectors to be treated badly.
    3. Time and again God had sent prophets to Israel to gather fruits of repentance and righteousness but His prophets were abused, wounded, and killed.
      1. Jer.7:25,26 From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets - day in and day out. But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful - even worse than their ancestors.
    4. Jesus parable was no exaggeration (eg. Isaiah, Zechariah, John the baptist)
      1. Heb.11:35-38 And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
    5. So here we have the sad rejection of God’s messengers; before the sad rejection of God’s Son.
      1. Today we still have the sad rejection of God’s messengers…some rejections are not just verbal. Some result in beatings & even death for some of God’s messengers.
        1. ​​​​​​​In IRAN: Christian Female Incarceration Rate Increases
        2. Reports are indicating that a growing number of Iranian Christian women are being incarcerated. While religious minorities are frequently harassed by Iranian police, the most severe police brutality is inflicted on female believers who are targeted for their violation of Iran's strict protocols.
        3. A Christian activist, Maryam Naghash, was sent on July 15th to Iran's brutal Evin prison. She was previously sentenced to five years in prison for evangelistic activities.
        4. CHINA: Churches Raided as Shouwang Pastors Remain under House Arrest
        5. Local police broke up the worship service of a house church and arrested its pastor in China's Xinjiang region for the second time. On August 4th, at least 20 police officers shut down the worship service and arrested Pastor Tan Wen.
          1. We need to pray for our Christian brothers & sisters.
          2. We need to write to them; or write to the authorities.
    6. It would have been unheard of for the owner to have been so patient.
      1. But God wouldn’t turn His back on the world; He continued sending servant after servant. (What persistent love!)
    7. Martin Luther said, “If I were God & the world had treated me as it treated Him, I would kick the wretched thing to pieces.” :O
    8. How was God patient with you prior to your conversion?
    9. How is God patient with you presently?
  4. THE LOVE OF GOD (6-8)
    1. ​​​​​​​He(Jesus) stands in succession to the great prophets of old, but He is distinct from them.
      1. Spurgeon, If you reject Him, He answers you w/tears. If you wound Him He bleeds out cleansing. If you kill Him; He dies to redeem.If you bury Him; he rises again to bring resurrection. Jesus is love made manifest.
    2. (6) They will respect My Son - As if the Father said, Since Heaven adores Him; Hell trembles at Him; Surely they will reverence My Son.
    3. (7) This verse tells of Jesus crucifixion, which was only 3 days away.
    4. (8) Cast Him out of the vineyard. God is Dead!
      1. ​​​​​​​Heb.13:12,13 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
    5. In verse 8 we find The key. They claimed everything as their own: Their capacity to work, their output, the whole scene of their work & their life, namely, the vineyard itself. In the end they take credit for sunshine, rain, & good climate...heck, in the end they were the ones that produced this good wine!
      1. Where do you live? Thats His Vineyard. Where do you work? Thats His Vineyard. Where do you vacation? Thats His Vineyard. Where do you rest? Thats His Vineyard.
    6. Jesus was God’s ultimatum [nothing remains when Christ is refused]
      1. “You put your finger in the eye of God, when you slight His Son.” Kent Hughes
    7. God the greatest Giver so loved the greatest motive the world the greatest need that He gave the greatest act His only Son the greatest gift that whosoever the greatest invitation believes in Him the greatest opportunity should not perish the greatest deliverance but have eternal life the greatest joy.
    1. ​​​​​​​The leaders actually answered the question themselves thus condemned themselves.
      1. Mt.21:41 They said to Him, He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.
        1. Then Jesus repeated their solemn verdict.
      2. This of course was fulfilled only a few decades later.
    2. How can people say hell isn’t fair? How can hell not make sense? They killed a Fathers one and only Son!
      1. God should have kicked this blue soccer ball we live on, so hard out of our atmosphere, so it burnt up immediately with a fervent heat.
      2. The question should be How can heaven make sense? How can any imperfect being, be invited to inhabit such a perfect place?
  6. THE TRIUMPH OF GOD (10,11)
    1. ​​​​​​​Jesus now changed the metaphor from vineyard to building.
    2. The picture is of builders who throw aside a particular stone as they build, which turns out to be vital to the whole building.
      1. Ever set aside a puzzle piece that seemed useless to you in the beginning, but then when you found it, it completed the puzzle.
      2. The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful and costly tombs ever built, but there is something fascinating about its beginnings. In 1629, when the favorite wife of Indian ruler Shah Jahan died, he ordered that a magnificent tomb be built as a memorial to her. The shah placed his wife’s casket in the middle of a parcel of land, and construction of the temple literally began around it. But several years into the venture, the Shah’s grief for his wife gave way to a passion for the project. One day while he was surveying the sight, he reportedly stumbled over a wooden box, and he had some workers throw it out. It was months before he realized that his wife’s casket had been destroyed. The original purpose for the memorial became lost in the details of construction.
    3. ​​​​​​​Everything in your life has to begin with Jesus. You say…
      1. “I want a great marriage.” Start with Jesus and then build your marriage on Jesus. “I want to raise a family.” Start with Jesus and then make some babies. “I want to have a business.” Start with Jesus and then figure out your business. “I want to overcome some addictions, some sins, some hurt, some trouble in my life.” Start with Jesus, then work from there.
        1. Anything you want to be or do all starts with Jesus. Don’t let Him be the rejected stone.
        2. This is really the problem that some of you are having practically with your life. You built your life, forgot Jesus and now you’re trying to find a way to slip him in.It doesn’t work like that.
    4. Jesus would soon go from rejection to the highest exaltation.
    5. Luke adds, Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.
  7. THE GRACE OF GOD (12)
    1. ​​​​​​​The final plea - One last chance for them to turn from the error of their way.
    2. The parable is a powerful demonstration of the love & patience of God.
    3. Note the owner’s attention & care for the vineyard: He bought the land; cleared the land; prepared the soil; & even made provisions to keep out the wild animals or thieves.
      1. God has taken every care to provide for His people.
      2. He still sends messenger after messenger…but so often they are still rejected.
      3. Deliberately, repeatedly, people reject His love.
      4. “Oh the generosity & patience of God & yet the stubbornness of humanity.” (David Hewitt, pg.158.)
    4. This seems to be one more way the Lord shows His patient love in allowing his precious servants to be mistreated.
      1. It could be viewed as a lack of love for His children or It could be viewed as such a radical love for the lost.
    5. How many more Christians does God need to send into your life before you’ll respond to His gracious love?
      1. God has been waiting patiently for you…Will you respond to His love today?
      2. Slide#22 Richard Armstrong, Make Your Life Worthwhile, reports the story about a man in Wales who sought to win the affection of a certain lady for 42 years before she finally said, "Yes." The couple, both 74, recently became "Mr. and Mrs." - For more than 40 years, the persistent, but rather shy man slipped a weekly love letter under his neighbor's door. But she continually refused to speak and mend the spat that had parted them many years before. - After writing 2,184 love letters without ever getting a spoken or written answer, the single-hearted old man eventually summoned up enough courage to present himself in person. He knocked on the door of the reluctant lady and asked for her hand. To his delight and surprise, she accepted.
        1. Imagine God's dilemma. Time and time again He tried to get His message of love through to His human creation with little response. Finally, when there was no other way, He wrapped up His message in person.
    6. In The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen retells a tale from ancient India:
      4 royal brothers decided each to master a special ability. Time went by, and the brothers met to reveal what they had learned.
      “I have mastered a science,” said the 1st, “by which I can take but a bone of some creature and create the flesh that goes with it.”
      “I,” said the 2nd, “know how to grow that creature’s skin & hair if there is flesh on its bones.” The 3rd said, “I am able to create its limbs if I have flesh, the skin, and the hair.”
      “And I,” concluded the 4th, “know how to give life to that creature if its form is complete.” Thereupon the brothers went into the jungle to find a bone so they could demonstrate their specialties. As fate would have it, the bone they found was a lion’s. 1 added flesh to the bone, the 2nd grew hide and hair, the 3rd completed it with matching limbs, and the 4th gave the lion life. Shaking its mane, the ferocious beast arose and jumped on his creators. He killed them all and vanished contentedly into the jungle.
      1. ​​​​​​​The religious leaders in our story created something that ended up devouring them. They created a veneer religion where an attractive appearance disguised a wretched soul. It was dress up religion.
      2. We too have the capacity to create what can devour us.
        1. Goals and dreams can consume us. Possessions, property, things can turn and destroy us. Unless, we 1st seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and allow Him to breathe into...what we make of life.

Verses 13-27

  1. Intro:
    1. Galilean Tea Party
    2. Dr. Suess said, Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
      1. ​​​​​​​We’ll see that lived out here, times 3. 3 complicated questions, 3 simple answers.
    3. Outline: Pharisees & Herodians ask A Political Question; Pay taxes? Some Sadducees ask A Hypothetical Question; Whose wife? A Scribe asks ask The Real Question; #1 commandment?
    1. ​​​​​​​Its hard to imagine Taxes being controversial :)
      1. In the US we know unfair taxation & revolution. The Boston Tea Party was a riot against unfair taxation & became the catalyst of the revolution from Great Britain.
      2. This Tribute Tax were paid only by those conquered, not by Roman citizens.
      3. Now Im not jumping in to any conspiracy theories here...but just for an application: What if we got so indebted to the Chinese that they issued a Tribute Tax against us? Each year it was due we’d feel it digging in, not fair, we’ve lost our independence.
        1. Here was a Galilean Tea Party of sorts going on. Feel the tension.
      4. Pharisees – were a strict separatist Jews, totally opposed to Roman rule.
      5. Herodians –were a Jewish political party who sympathized with w/Rome.
        1. Pharisees (extreme right wingers); Herodians (extreme left wingers).
    2. Catch – to take by hunting or fishing.
    3. (14) Listen to their flattery.
      1. They call him teacher but have not intention of learning anything from Him.
    4. (15-17) Denarius – a silver coin used to pay the Poll Tax (Introduced by the Romans in 6ad; a constant reminder they were a subject people).
    5. On this coin: [note V = U]
      1. [obverse/front] The image of emperor Tiberius Caesar & the abbreviated inscription
        Ti[berivs] Caesar Divi Avg[vsti] F[ilivs] Avgvstvs. Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the DivineAugustus.
      2. [reverse/back] His mother Livia. PONTIF MAXIM Chief Priest
      3. ​​​​​​​To reveal their hypocrisy Jesus ask them to produce one. (You are carrying one around. Tell me His name) [Not going to call him Augustus = The revered One. Not going to call him Divi Filius: The Son of God. Not going to call him Tiberias: He was such a wicked emperor. So the most neutral, Caesar]
    6. Jesus was able to move the discussion from politics to principle.
    8. If this coin bears his picture & name, it must belong to him. And whatever belongs to him you should give back to him.
      1. Render = give back, or pay back (a moral obligation).
      2. He taught that taxes are a debt. Give back to Uncle Sam or Uncle Caesar.
      3. This strong word render then infers taxes being the citizens’ debt to the government in return for services performed.
    9. Today this is still heralded as “one of the single most influential political statements ever made in the history of the world.”
      1. It was decisive & determinative in shaping Western civilization.
      2. It orders & prioritizes the believer’s allegiances in this life.
    10. What bears Caesars image belongs to him. What bears God’s image belongs to Him.
    12. He reminds them of a greater responsibility. Our 1st allegiance is to God.
    13. Erasmus, “Give back to God that which has the image & superscription of God…the soul.”
      1. Eccl 12:7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
    14. Slide#15a We bear His image
      1. ​​​​​​​Believers we all have been minted in heaven. All humans are made in the image of God. – We are God’s coin.
      2. 2 Cor.1:22 He…set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts.
    15. But do we bear His signature on our hearts?
      1. ​​​​​​​Ancient wax seal. Owner would take His ring & press it into the hot wax.
      2. So the H.S. does with believers. He warms us, makes us impressionable, & then presses His image, His character into us.
      3. Now not only an “H”(human) impressed upon us; but now at salvation the H.S. has further pressed upon our souls a 2nd “H”(His) :)
    1. ​​​​​​​(18) Now the Sadducees turn. (only place in Mark they’re mentioned)
      1. I believe they think they can take this country bumpkin from Galilee.
      2. They thought they’d publicly show how ridiculous this idea of a resurrection was.
      3. They didn’t believe in: the existence of the soul, life after death, resurrection, final judgment, angels, or demons. (Acts 23:8)
    2. (19) 1st they site the Levirate marriage custom in Deut.25:5.
      1. Basically, if a man dies childless, his brother was to marry the widow. Then the 1st child would legally become the heir of the deceased father. Thus the family line would not die out.
    3. (20-23) This was probably said sarcastically.
      1. It seemed like a perfect argument, as most arguments are...that are based on hypothetical situations.
      2. “Resurrection is not the restoration of life as we know it; it is the entrance into a new life that is different.” Warren Wiersbe, pg.117
      3. See, they made the fundamental mistake of measuring the life of heaven by the life of earth. But things are very different there.
    4. (24) Jesus rebukes these proud sophisticated religionists.
      1. They should have known both the Scriptures & the Power of God.
      2. They failed to notice Moses did teach on life after death. (vs.26; Ex.3:6)
    5. (25) Like angels – Jesus didn’t say we would become angels or be like angels in everything.
      1. We will only be sexless like the angels. (i.e. marriage will not exist)
        1. If no death in the afterlife, then no need for the propagation of the human race.
      2. Whatever has been good & valuable here on earth will be enriched in heaven.
        1. Ps.16:11 In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
        2. In heaven there is no reduction of love. We will be ourselves at our ultimate best. We will be more capable of loving than ever before. We will be like Jesus.
      3. It is always a mistake to create heaven in the image of earth.
    6. (26) The Sadducees demanded scriptural proofs for doctrines…but they held primarily only to the books of Moses as their religious authority.
      1. So Jesus quoted from Exodus 3:6. (Since there was no ch. & vs., He refers to it as a the bush passage)
      2. Key – is in the words “I am” not “I was”. I am the God of Abraham…
      3. Origen, “It is ridiculous for God to say that He is the God of men who have no existence.”
        1. Another example would be Enoch, who was taken from life to life.
      4. Paul said, So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.
    7. (27) He makes the application.
      1. Their problem was that they had no vital relationship w/God, just a dead ritual.
      2. When you experience the resurrection power in your own life, you have no difficulty in believing the resurrection of the dead.
      3. Can one rule out the supernatural elements of the Christian faith & still call it the Christian faith? (No! Not Res.)
  4. THE REAL QUESTION (28-34)
    1. ​​​​​​​(28) Which – “of what kind” is the 1st commandment of all?
      1. The rabbis divided the 613 precepts of the law (248 commands & 365 prohibitions) into weighty & light. Which command was more important?
      2. This came from a Scribal mind game of the day of trying to reduce their religion to a single axiom.
        1. As for example: when Rabbi Hillel was promised by a Gentile that he would convert if Hillel could give him the whole Law while he stood on one foot.
        2. Hillel answered w/a version of the Golden rule: “What you yourself hate, do not do to your neighbor this is the whole law – the rest is commentary. Go & learn it.”
        3. This is the kind of answer this Scribe was looking for from this brilliant Jesus.
    2. (29-31) Jesus’ reply was the Shema (Deut.6:4,5) which every pious Jew repeated twice a day.
      1. It 1st pointed to the Unity of Deity, The Lord our God is one Lord; & then to man’s chief obligation, to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, & strength (or, w/all’s one being)
        1. Everything devoted to loving God. “It does not take much of a man to be a believer, but it takes all there is of him.”
      2. Lenin the implementer of Communism in the Soviet Union, while meeting with a small group of people in London in the early 1900's set down these four "Totals":[1] Total acceptance of the cause [2] Total dedication to the cause [3] Total discipline in the cause [4] Total action for the cause.
        1. What was terrible for the cause of communism; is beautiful to the cause of Christianity.
      3. (Spurg) “We must give the Lord our love, or that love will go somewhere else. We are so created that we must love something or other. If The Ever-Blessed One does not win our love; the world, the flesh, or the devil will gain it.”
      4. So exactly how do you Love God this way?
        Brother Lawrence was a cook in a monastery. He learned to press meaning into virtually every action of his day. Note his capacity to see not only meaning but also purpose in his labor:"I turn my little omelette in the pan for the love of God. When it is finished, if I have nothing to do, I prostrate myself on the ground and worship my God, who gave me this grace to make it, after which I arise happier than a king. When I can do nothing else, it is enough to have picked up a straw for the love of God. People look for ways of learning how to love God. They hope to attain it by I know not how many different practices. They take much trouble to abide in His presence by varied means. Is it not a shorter and more direct way to do everything for the love of God, to make use of all the tasks one's lot in life demands to show him that love, and to maintain his presence within by the communion of our heart with his? There is nothing complicated about it. One has only to turn to it honestly and simply.
    3. For good measure he added a 2nd one, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
      1. Paul reiterated this, …he who loves another has fulfilled the law. Rom.13:8
      2. A total love for God & a sensitive love for others is the essence of a life that pleases God.
    4. (32,33) The Scribe was favorably impressed.
      1. He was beginning to get a deeper spiritual understanding of the faith he thought he understood.
      2. He was a thinking man, an honest man. He was not a coward. He faced head-on the implications that the love of God is the highest priority.
    5. (34) Not far from? – means he’s facing truth honestly & is not interested in defending a party line or even personal prejudice.
      1. His attitude was right & his heart was open.
      2. Jesus words were deliberately ambiguous to make him think further, & hopefully turn interest into commitment, admiration into discipleship.
    6. The great danger for this person is that though they are not far from the kingdom, they are not in it.
      1. It’s the man who was almost able to reach & grab the life preserver…but drowned instead.
      2. Almost saved is altogether lost. Think of how many souls in hell were “almost saved”
      3. It is being in the kingdom that saves the soul, not being near the kingdom.
    7. G. Are you near to the kingdom of God but not in? One step makes the difference.
      1. Like the last step from the dock & into a boat.
      2. Like the final step of boarding an airplane.
        1. Slide#27,28 Which begs the age-old question: Are you going to be found…sittin on the dock of the bay” orleavin on a jet plane?” :)

Verses 35-44

  1. Intro:
    1. Title: Condemnation(rich Scribes); or Commendation(a poor widow).
    2. In superior Literature, or in the laws of Screenplay physics, introducing a villain is often to show you how good your hero is.
      1. It heightens the contrast of the positive & negative like an Xray.
      2. Jesus is going to do just that. He’ll introduce us to 2 characters where he asks, “Which one do you want to emulate?”
      3. Do you want to be a Religious official, just looking the part. Enjoying the benefits of your job. Making a show of your holiness, but behind the scene victimizing defenseless women. Or…
      4. Do you want to be like the widow, worth almost nothing in that society. Being taken advantage of from those religious officials, but faithful, admirable, & sacrificial.
  2. CONDEMNATION (35-40)
    1. ​​​​​​​Jesus criticizes these religious leaders regarding 2 things: [their Shallowness & Showmanship]
    2. THEIR SHALLOWNESS (35-37)
    3. Here we have Logic on Fire – You don’t hear Jesus give a “just believe” teaching here. Instead, it is come let us reason together.
    4. Jesus challenges them to think again…
      1. He quotes from Ps.110 (the Psalm most frequently quoted in the NT).
      2. He steps on their self-proclaimed superiority of the Scriptures.
      3. How can Messiah be both David’s son (& therefore inferior) & also David’s Lord (& therefore superior)?
      4. In Jesus’ day a descendant was always inferior to an ancestor.
      5. How can Christ be both David’s Lord & his descendant?
        1. A: Only a Christ who is both fully human & fully Divine can be both Lord & descendant.
        2. Paul said it plainly, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power. Rom.1:3
        3. If Christ is not divine, Go seal again the tomb; Take down the cross, Redemption’s sign, Quench all the stars of hope that shine, And let us turn & travel onAcross the night that knows no dawn. Walter A. Maier
    5. (37) The theologians had no answer for Christ’s question, but the common people sure heard Him gladly.
    6. THEIR SHOWMANSHIP (38-40)
    7. Beware of the Scribes...Why? Because they are Proud lovers of
      1. ​​​​​​​Power-Suits – go around in long robes
        1. Long white linen robes (everyone else wore bright colors) w/fringes that almost touched the ground
        2. Of course it was almost impossible to work in such clothing.
        3. It made them stand out in a crowd. They were men of wealth & leisure.
        4. These were the 1st century Armani Power Suits.
      2. Praise – love greetings in the marketplaces
        1. Didn’t love greeting others, or being a greeter, but loved when everybody else knows their name.
        2. The character Norm on Cheers in the 80’s embodied this.
          1. Sometimes you want to go Where everybody knows your name, And they're always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, Our troubles are all the same; You want to be where everybody knows your name.
        3. A basic fact of Christianity is that it ought to make a man wish to obliterate-self rather than to exalt it.
      3. Prestige – best seats in the synagogues
        1. Seats at the front of the synagogue, facing the congregation, their backs against the chest holding the Torah, where they could see & more importantly…be seen.
      4. Position – best places at feasts
        1. When the wealthy gave feasts, Scribes were considered necessary ornaments to adorn the meal.
        2. They were given a place of honor to the right or left of the host. (even above the parents)
      5. Power – who devour widows' houses
        1. They did not receive a regular salary & therefore were dependent upon the generosity of rich benefactors.
        2. It was a system open to abuse, as needy widows depended upon the scribes to write their papers for them & spiritual help…they could easily be exploited. (1st cent indulgences)
      6. Pomp – for a pretense/show make long prayers
        1. Not so much to be heard by God but to be seen by others.
        2. So there they were: Prancing, Preening, Primping, Pompous, Proud, Powerful, Prestigious Peacocks…Prancing amongst the Poor Pigeons of society.
        3. ​​​​​​​This portrays the minister that Woodrow Wilson described as the only man he knew who could strut while sitting down.
        4. If a person is important only because of the uniform he wears, the title he bears, or the office he holds, then his importance is artificial.
          1. It is character that makes a person valuable.
          2. No one can give you character, you must develop it yourself as you walk w/ God.
    8. For 20 centuries the church has been telling the world to admit their sins, repent, & believe the gospel. Today, the world is telling the church to face up to her sins, repent, & start being the true church of that gospel. Warren Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis pg.17.
      1. Do you ever turn your religion into a matter of outward show & pride?
      2. Do you ever tell your right hand what your left hand is doing?
      3. Do you ever tell your friends what you are doing?
  3. COMMENDATION (41-44)
    1. ​​​​​​​Now the beautiful & clear contrast.
      1. The religious leaders were interested in all they could get out of life; She was interested in what she could give in life. Phillips, pg.246
    2. Jesus is interested in what people do with their money.
      1. In the Bible prayer is mentioned 371 times; love 714 times, and giving...2162 times.
      2. He knows that money can do more to you then it can do for you.
      3. Money is a good servant but a poor master.
      4. When you learn to give, you learn to control your money & not let it control you.
    3. The layout of the court of the women.
      1. There were 13 trumpet shape brass receptacles into which offerings were put, towards temple expenses & to meet the needs of the poor.
        1. The Mishnah said each bore inscriptions designating what the offerings were for: New Shekel dues; Old Shekel dues; Bird Offerings; Young birds for the whole offering;Wood; Frankincense; Gold for the Mercy-seat; & on 6 of them Freewill-Offerings.(Shekalim XI.5 [Mishnah, the oral traditions. 2nd only to the Tanak])
      2. Imagine many coins hitting the brass. It probably sounded like those coin counting machines in the super markets. Hand full of penny’s.
      3. Mite/Lepton: smallest Jewish copper coin (lit. a thin one) [Worth ¼ of a cent]
      4. Quadrons - smallest Roman coin [Worth ½ of a cent]
        1. The mite was the smallest offering permissible under the law.
    4. Here we have the most famous giver ever.
    5. He watches our giving.
      1. ​​​​​​​Don’t ever think that what you have is too little for Him to notice.
      2. Should those who have very little, still be expected to give? [actually they’re the best givers]
      3. Jesus was a people watcher. But not only watching their actions but watching their motives.
    6. He watches our motives why we give. Mt.6:1-4
      1. Notice in (41) it says he noticed how they gave, not what.
      2. Did you know, the IRS really doesn’t care what your motive is in giving to them? But God cares what your motives are.
      3. Hannah said in her prayer in 1 Sam.2:3, For the LORD is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.
      4. Why do you give? Does your wife make you? Or wives, are you a little resentful how much he gives? Do you give to get a tax-write off? Or, Is your motive that you love the Lord Jesus & want to get His work done on earth? How will this mornings teaching/reminder change your attitude/outlook on giving?
        1. They say the best way to find out what means the most to you...show me 2 things: Show me what you spend your money on & show me your calendar.
    7. He watches our proportion not the portion. 1 Cor.16:2
      1. This widow now drops in her offering...Ping, ping.
      2. He noticed & appreciated her gift. Not because of the size but because of her generosity.
      3. Jesus said she put in more (43) How? - Because God weighs things on a different set of scales.
      4. For the rich their gifts were a small contribution; but for the widow, her gift was true consecration of her whole life. Warren Weirsbe, pg.120
      5. (old epitaph) “What I gave, I have. What I spent, I had. What I kept, I lost.”
    8. It seems like she was 1 mite away from never being heard of.
      1. She could have kept 1 back, but gave both. all that she had…her whole livelihood.
      2. Wait...she just showed us how to love the LORD your God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. vs.30
      3. She was like that rare desert flower…just sitting out there.
    9. If I give all I possess to the poor & surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. But if I give a penny w/the widow’s heart, it is great gain to me & to God.
    10. Pride of living & pride of giving are sins we must avoid at all cost.
      1. Do either of these describe you at this place in your life?
    11. End: (Kent Hughes) There is a disease which is particular virulent in this part of the 20th century. It is called cirrhosis of the giver. It was actually discovered about 34 ad & ran a terminal course in a couple named Ananias & Sapphira. It is an acute condition which renders the patient’s hand immobile when it attempts to move from the billfold to the offering plate. The remedy is to remove the afflicted from the House of God, since it is clinically observable that this condition disappears in alternative environments such as golf courses or clubs or restaurants.
      1. Actually, the disease is really not a motor problem, but a heart problem.
      2. The best remedy is to fall in love w/God w/all your heart; for where your heart is, there will your treasure be. Mt.6:21 reversed
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Mark 12". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/mark-12.html. 2017.
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