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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Mark 12

Verses 1-44

Not Far From the Kingdom

Mark 12:34

What became of this hopeful young lawyer I cannot tell. Whether he actually reached and entered the kingdom he was so near to, we are not informed.

I. He was 'not far from the kingdom,' because he had begun to think seriously on religion.

II. Because he had already begun to attach greater importance to the spirit than to the letter.

III. Because he was sincerely desirous of acting up to the measure of light which he possessed.

IV. Because he was amiable and virtuous. He was strictly moral, circumspect, and pure.

J. Thain Davidson, The City Youth, p. 267.

Not Far Off

Mark 12:34

The man to whom these words were addressed was a candid inquirer.

I. The Characteristics of those who are not far from the Kingdom.

1. They may possess considerable knowledge of Scripture.

2. They may make a candid confession of their belief.

3. They may have strong convictions of sin.

4. They may have a desire to amend their lives.

5. They may have partially reformed. They only need Repentance and Faith.

II. The Reasons why they do not Enter the Kingdom.

6. Difficulties in the way.

7. Advantages in a middle course.

8. Belief that they are Christians already.

9. Reluctance to observe the needful conditions.

III. The Inducements to Enter.

10. The blessedness of those who do.

11. The misery of those who do not.

F. J. Austin, Seeds and Saplings, p. 38.

References. XII. 34. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. Mark IX.-XVI. p. 148. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 258. R. L. Drummond, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxi. 1902, p. 85. W. L. Watkinson, ibid. vol. lxi. 1902, p. 259. H. Hensley Henson, ibid. vol. lxiii. 1903, p. 180. H. Montagu Butler, Harrow School Sermons (2nd Series), p. 63. J. S. Swan, Short Sermons, p. 213. 'Plain Sermons' by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. v. p. 297. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvi. No. 1517; vol. lii. No. 2989. XII. 37. A. B. Bruce, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxvii. p. 42. P. M. Muir, ibid. vol. xliv. 1893, p. 107. J. H. Jellett, The Elder Son, p. 141. Mark Guy Pearse, Jesus Christ and the People, p. 57.

Casting Into the Treasury

Mark 12:41

Take the incident of this Gospel story. May it not suggest to us a special fact of immense significance not apparent on the surface of things? That Temple court, those thirteen brazen chests, that procession of contributors, each with his special offering may they not represent to us, in idea at least, a picture or parable of what is going on perpetually in the drama of human life, and at the same time bring before us a vision of the unseen, unheard judgment of Christ upon the works and ways of men?

I. Every single life is in itself an offertory, a contribution, made to the great sum of human influences and examples. Some faint resemblance to this idea of a common treasury to which all in their several ways contribute may be seen in the demands and expectations of men and women when united in social groups. The rich and powerful are welcome as the 'benefactors' of society, and society rewards them with its smiles. Modest and humble goodness may pass by with its slender offering, rich only in the coin of love and self-sacrifice, but such coinage has no appreciable value in the eyes of the 'children of this world'.

II. As a contrast, let us look at the spirit in which our Lord appraised the two types of character that passed before Him in the Temple court, and notice which of the two appeared to Him to be the pure gold and which the showy tinsel.

1. First, we cannot fail to see that the test applied by Christ to human conduct, here as always, was a spiritual test. In the matter of giving He pronounced that the vital question is not how much you give, but what element of sacrifice enters into your gift. Love and self-surrender are the core of practical Christianity. 'My son, give Me thy heart,' is the sum and substance of all the commandments. In God's sight he who does not give himself as the best part of his offering, with no eye to any future recompense, gives what has no spiritual value.

2. Another point is that there may be more spiritual nobleness, more of the morally sublime, in some obscure, hidden life that hardly anyone notices than in many of the conspicuous acts of distinguished persons which are recorded in the pages of history. We are reminded by our Lord's praise of the poor widow that obscurity is a condition, sometimes the necessary condition, of much of the most self-denying work that is done in the world.

III. Our own experience may teach the lesson that it is not often to the wealthy, the powerful, or the brilliant that we owe the deepest gratitude for timely aid, generous sympathy, or ennobling influence.

It should never be forgotten that the true givers, the true helpers of mankind, are those whose efforts cost them much labour and suffering, and who, in seeking the good of others, purchase it with their own heart's blood. Only in those who cast into life's treasury their love and sympathy, the most precious of offerings, charged with sore travail of soul and much inward pain, does Christ recognize the image and likeness of His own perfect sacrifice of Himself.

J. W. Shepard, Light and Life, p. 192.

References. XII. 41-44. C. H. Parkhurst, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxiv. 1903, p. 179. T. Martin, ibid. vol. box. 1906, p. 397. John McNeill, Regent Square Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 65. S. Martin, Rain Upon the Mown Grass, p. 380. Lynch, Three Months' Ministry, p. 118.

Mark 12:42

In 'the book of the Three Maiden Sisters' ( Professor at the Breakfast Table, x.), Oliver Wendell Holmes tells of a poor widow who, 'fighting hard to feed and clothe and educate her children, had not forgotten the poorer ancient maidens,' sending the three spinsters 'a fractional pudding from her own table. I remembered it the other day as I stood by the place of rest, and I felt sure that it was remembered elsewhere. I know there are prettier words than pudding, but I can't help it the pudding went upon the record, I feel sure, with the mite which was cast into the treasury by that other poor widow whose deed the world shall remember for ever.'

References. XII. 43. M. Guy Pearse, Jesus Christ and the People, p. 238. XII. 43, 44. R. Collyer, Where the Light Dwelleth, p. 122. E. L. Hull, Sermons Preached at King's Lynn (3rd Series), p. 213. XIII. W. H. Bennett, The Life of Christ According to St. Mark, p. 208.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Mark 12". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/mark-12.html. 1910.