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Bible Commentaries

Derickson's Notes on Selected Books

Mark 12

Verses 1-9

MARK CHAPTER TWELVE

Mark 12:1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set a 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. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 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. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them saying, They will reverence my Song of Solomon 7:1-13 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.

To most this is a simple parable to tell the Jewish leaders that they were corrupt murderers and the text makes it clear that they knew He was talking about them. They knew He spoke about them, but did they realize that they were going to murder him as the men in the parable? Did it really sink into their minds that they were going to be murdering the SON OF THE OWNER?

It would seem that if they did realize this that they would have given more serious thought to what they were planning and the consequences. Christ Himself told them the consequences of what they were plotting. "What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others" Had they really contemplated this portion of the parable you would think that they would have reconsidered.

We should remember that parables were to convey information to some but to hide it from others. The Jewish leaders probably didn’t catch the drift of the details, only that He was talking about them.

Then one must wonder what any of the Jewish leaders would think when they saw Jerusalem destroyed in 70 A.D. - did they think back to this parable and see the vineyard being taken over by others?

The parable simply explained: God is the vineyard builder, He gave it to the promised people to tend. He sent prophets from time to time but they just killed them and finally He sent His Son Jesus Christ and they killed Him. God destroyed the Jews and scattered them across the earth and gave the vineyard to others - the gentiles. Whether the vineyard is Jerusalem, Israel or the spiritual blessing is of discussion. It would seem more to the idea of spiritual blessing rather than a geographical location/area.

It pictures well the thought of Israel rejecting their King/spiritual connection to God and the vineyard being given over to others. The others of course being the church and all that is entailed in that concept.Mixed blessing for sure. The Jews lost while we gained. Because they were cold toward God He shifted His blessing to us. This is not an eternal shift of focus, but only a temporary one. One day the focus will shift from the church back to the Jewish people. God has not separated Himself from them eternally; He has only set them aside for a time while He deals with the Church.

The hedge was to keep the thieves from the vines and the tower was normally where the one guarding the vines lived and watched to guard against intruders. The Jewish people had a hedge around them and God was their protector. He always brought them through.

Today some speak in prayer of setting a hedge around a person to keep them safe. This is one of the thoughts leading to that kind of prayer, though the hedge was for Israel, not particular people in the church age. It should be taken as a general protection of God over the whole, not particular individuals.

One should maybe consider the idea of a vineyard. It would be set up to gain fruit from the tenders. If we are now the husbandmen then our Vineyard owner is desirous of profit from our labors and His vines. We also should consider how we are treating the vines and vine owner. Are we profitable?

There is a real sense in which the taking up of dealings with Israel will be related to the failure of the church. God will one day return the vineyard to the husbandmen - not the original workers but to righteous/ believing Israel - and will again take up dealings with them. The church needs to remember they are temporary workers, not owners of the vineyard.

The winefat that was prepared is the receptacle below the vat where the pressing takes place. The juice drains into the winefat. There does not seem to be any great significance to the winefat other than the fact that the owner set it in place - why - to gain profit from the crop of the vines. There was to be fruit that produced profit and the owner gained no profit from the labor that he had put into the business.

God is not a profiteer, but He does expect fruit from His servants and that fruit will bring Him profit from the investment that He has made in us.

Verse seven is of note. "But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours." The Jews knew He was speaking of them, it might be wondered just what inheritance they had in mind when killing the Lord. Probably just the idea of being rid of this man who had given them fits for three years. To be rid of His teaching, of His miracles and of His influence over their "followers."

There is also another reality related to the same verse. They had it in mind that the "owner" or as we know, God was not coming back. They had no real concept of the Lord returning for His profit. The owner was in a far country. Many today in the "Church" are living the same way they live as if God is in a far country and not very interested in His creation. Not so, God is very interested in His creation as well as His creatures, thus we know that He will return and dobusiness with those that have kept His profit from Him.

The last portion of verse nine pictures this return "he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others." DESTROY is the key to the Jews and they had no idea what Christ was talking about but rather saw His words as just more verbiage to ignore and reject from this false one.

Verses 10-12

12:10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11 This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 12 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.

Another right jab to the chin - you have rejected this stone, but one day the builders will realize it was the cornerstone and it will be set in its rightful place in the building. Psalms 118:22-24 is the text that Christ was reminding them of, "The stone [which] the builders refused is become the head [stone] of the corner. 23 This is the LORD’S doing; it [is] marvellous in our eyes. 24 This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

This was first speaking of David according to Barnes but the Lord uses it of Himself.

The cornerstone was normally the best and nicest looking of the stones when building a house. It was placed with great care since the entire building was built in relationship to the cornerstone. It was the most important part of a project yet Christ tells them they have rejected it. In a very real sense it could be said that all their building for God had been askew since the corner stone had not been placed thus the building cannot be built correctly. (Acts 4:10 and 1 Peter 2:7 relate to this quote if you would like some further study.)

Verse eleven is very interesting in this context. "This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?" Was this a Calvinistic statement of some sort? Was Christ referring to the thought that Israel had been blinded so that they could not understand as in the explanation of the parables? What does "the Lord’s doing" relate to in this context? Does it mean that the rejection of the Messiah is of the Lord’s doing and the apostles are finding it as marvelous?

Of ten commentaries I checked, none dealt with this phrase quoted from the Old Testament. Evidently others have found they had more questions than answers in relation to verse eleven.

Just some observations of the verse might be in order.

1. Whatever it is it is of the Lord’s doing, not meaning Christ but God in general as in the Old Testament quote.

2. "Our" in the Old Testament context was ---- (See later in the study for more on this.)

3. "Marvelous" would seem to be something very good. Thayer mentions of the word "1) wonderful, marvelous; 1a) worthy of pious admiration, admirable, excellent; 1b) passing humancomprehension; 1c) causing amazement joined with terror; 1d) marvelous; 1d1) extraordinary striking, surprising"

4. Only Matthew and Mark mention this passage but neither gives explanation of the text.

5. It would seem that the evaluation is being done by those with Christ - the apostles, and that they find it very pleasing.

6. The King James places a question mark behind the phrase. Most of the major translations do the same though not all follow the King James.

7. Verse ten and eleven seem to be one sentence thus very closely linked. Of the ten translations I checked only the Geneva Bible has a period between the two verses.

8. The question boils down to whether the Lord’s doing is related to the rejection, the making of the stone the corner, or whether it is related to both.

Some possible conclusions:

1. The trinity is in view, and their evaluation of "marvelous" is based on the result of the stone becoming the cornerstone. The Calvinist would probably insist that the rejection is also included though I would not go that far. I am not sure that God’s evaluation of so many being lost would be one of joy.

2. The apostles are finding joy in the rejection and/or the exaltation of the stone. The fact that the Lord is saying this would seem to preclude the apostles as being within the comment.

3. The Lord was simply quoting the entire passage, not meaning that anyone in His time was finding it marvelous but only that those in the Old Testament quote were involved. This would require a study of the context of the quote mentioned. Let us take a quick look at that topic.

a. In the context of the Psalm it is a person speaking of his own trials but calls upon Israel and the Priests (house of Aaron) to acknowledge the Lord for what He is.

b. The account would fit King David and since He wrote many of the Psalms this might be a good decision. Gill takes the Psalm to be related to David but does not mention the writer. Matthew Henry suggests David as the author though Henry suggests a possible later writer remembering the occasion. It would seem to be about David if not written by him.

c. In reading the entire Psalm it would seem that all Israel would be the "we."

Now to the Mark passage, by inference it should be suggested that Christ was indicating that all Israel should be viewing these things as marvelous, though the Jewish leaders did not agree with that conclusion of "marvelous." To continue with the historical context, David had been anointed but had been chased extensively before he finally became king. Indeed they attempted to kill him as they were going to be doing to Christ. The similarities in the situation Christ was in are strikingly close to the situation that David had been in and survived to glorify God over the results.

Now to the question of whether the marvelous was being related to the rejection or the installation of the stone. The dispensationalist might see in this the marvelous rejection by the Jews and the giving of to the Gentiles, though that would be a slight over statement. The Old Testament context was on the installation, not the rejection, so it would seem that Christ would have seen the same relationship to His situation.

It would also fit that the leaders in both cases had done the rejecting, while the people benefited from the rejection. Don’t loose the poignancy of the Lord using this passage in light of the proclamation of the people as He entered the city, (Mark 11:10) "Blessed [be] the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest."

The men Christ was addressing would have known this passage since they were well taught in the Old Testament. They would have caught all the irony in the situation and that most likely just added to their desire to have Him killed.

Verses 13-17

13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14 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? 15 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. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. 17 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.

What a bunch. They are trying to trip Him up yet they use the truth to do it in front of the people. They declare Him to be Truth and that He teaches the ways of God.

When they say "and carest for no man" they are not slamming His compassion for others, but saying that He cares not what others think about Him. He concerns Himself with no man but teaches Godly principles.

At least they get just who He is in action even though they have not gotten the "Who He is" principle. They May have been lying through their teeth when they declared this also - they thought He was a false prophet - teaching new stuff so most likely this was a lie to His face in front of the people.

Mark tells us that Christ knew of their hypocrisy. The term hypocrisy is the Greek word that we gain hypocrisy from. Christ knew them for what they were but played their silly game anyway. He asked to see a penny. Not that He did not know what it looked like; he had most likely seen them many times. He just wanted to emblazon it upon their minds as well as the minds of thepeople who were witnessing the event.

Matthew 22:18 mentions "But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why make ye trial of me, ye hypocrites?" Christ was rather plain and blunt. Matthew, the writer that wrote to the Jewish community wanted the reader to know exactly how the Lord felt about their leadership - He spoke His mind.

They marveled at Him! They went to catch Him, He outwitted them and they were surprised. Matthew and Luke record that they left Him. I would think so after such a complete shutdown.

It is of note that the Pharisees and Herodians came together for they were at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. The Pharisees wanted freedom from the Roman Empire and were looking for a political Messiah to free them while the Herodians seemed to want to keep the status quo by supporting the leader that Rome had appointed over the Jews - Herod.

When you want to get someone, it does not matter who you hook up with - the end justifies the means as they always say - situational ethics in other words. Your ethics are determined by the situation that you find yourself in.

One of the first lessons one of my professors brought to us in Bible College was ethics and the first part of that was related to situational ethics. I have no idea where my mind was indoctrinated but I had to wonder why he was teaching us things like this - in my mind no one could use that polluted of a system to live their life.

Today I fear we should have been teaching more about it over the years in our churches and our colleges. Christians often change their belief system to match the surroundings and situations. Their God is as moldable as their lifestyle. Sunday they are the righteous living folks that go to church and then on the weekday they turn into one of the world, someone that a person could not tell from another lost person.

Folks our lifestyle should always match our Sunday best no matter what. If we are believers, we are to be Christ-like 24/7, not Christ-like on Sunday and then world-like Monday through Saturday.

Our associations should also match our belief system. We should not change our living to match a different set of friends during the week. Our viewing of movies and television should also match. We should not say amen to the pastor’s decrying of the latest episode of some TV show on Sunday and then watch it during the week. We should not cry out for the moral high ground in viewing - for others - and watch trash in our own home.

It is appalling what some believers are watching these days. They often tell the lost of their dual standard by demeaning television and then tell them that they are watching PG and worse rating shows.

One cannot miss the truth that the Jewish leaders certainly missed. He requested the coin andasked whose image it was. They said Caesar’s and He told them to render unto Caesar that which was His and to God that which was His - OUCH! They are in God’s image and they certainly had not given themselves unto God in fact they were trying to kill God.

Reader, do not miss that one yourself. You are in God’s image and the Lord told them to render that which is God’s to God. Do not wait, that is the concept of the Lord for all of us. We are His He bought and paid for us, it is only up to us to commit ourselves to Him for our lives as bondservants.

If you pay your taxes, and you should, then you also should give yourself to God for His use else you are not following the Lord’s admonishment to the Jewish leaders.

Verses 18-27

12:18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, 19 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. 20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. 21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. 22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection therefore when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. 24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures neither the power of God? 25 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. 26 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? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.

Imagine the Lord containing His laughter. People who do not believe in a resurrection come asking him questions about the resurrection based on Old Testament teaching and they are wondering about the implications of the two teachings. How comical, how sad, how ridiculous!

Then the Lord blasts them with their own belief about the resurrection or the lack thereof and tells them that since they are quoting Moses do they not know that the same writings teach the resurrection.

We can gain a small glimpse into the heaven that we will one day enjoy. No matter the joy of marriage in this life, there is no marriage in the next. We will be totally as individuals with our Lord. We have no real idea of how the relationships will work, but it would seem that the strong bonds of family here will not be as important there, or if they will even exist.

We see also the idea that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. We the believers are living both now and then. We will not be dead one day though we will pass through death. We will be as we are now - living - though in a much better state then than now.

This is a main passage when giving study to Genesis 6:1-22 and the Sons of God and daughters of men subject. If angels, fallen or not, do not marry in heaven are we to assume if they come to earth they will? Or are we to assume non-marrying beings are also sexual beings? Would Godhave such a disparity of standard between heaven and earth (sexual activity okay in the non-married in heaven while only married beings are sexual on earth)? Are the angels even sexual in nature. Just a few of the questions that will come to mind as you relate the two passages in your study.

The key to this section is that the Jewish leaders were throwing all ethics, belief and logic to the wind so that they could get rid of the Lord before He did any more damage to the people. You should give it to them they were trying to protect their students - or were they? It might well be that they felt their positions, honor and livelihood shaking under them and they were trying to stabilize their own realm, rather than it being anything to do with concern for their people.

Pastor --- uhhhhhhh be very aware of the need for you to analyze your own motivations when teaching your people, when confronting others, and when you would seek to correct the incorrect. Be very sure that you are not doing these things to protect your financial status, or your honor and prestige in the community. You are charged with teaching and guiding - assure that these are your motivations and not some sense of personal protectionism.

Just a side note, when the Lord called the Jews attention to Moses "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? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err." We have an explicit application of the Old Testament in Christ’s time. If you want to understand New Testament quotes of the Old you should study each of them and see how the quotes were used. You then have a better understanding of how to teach the Old Testament in our church age.

Many draw long and intricately upon the Old Testament texts when they ought to look at how the New Testament writers used the Old Testament and draw principles from them rather than setting their own principles of Old Testament interpretation. There is much for us to learn there but there are promises a bunch in the Old Testament that do not relate to us in this time.

And when you think of the Lord’s text you must admit this was one royal slap in the face to people who did not believe in the resurrection - Christ calls their attention to the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses and tells them that those great men of their faith knew that God was a living God. The clear and easy implication is that they should have understood that resurrection was a reality.

Hebrews 11:18-19 a mentions in relation to Abraham offering his son "Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up...." Now if the writer of Hebrews knew this it might just be that it was part of Jewish learning, thus the Sadducees would have been ignoring their own people’s teaching even further.

Now, if we are honest as believers do we always treat God as a living God, a God that wants to interact with us daily, like a God that guides and directs our lives, and a God that has a plan for our lives? Who is it that makes decisions in your life? Who is it that directs your life? Who do you interact with in your life? All too often it is not God, but ourselves and our wants, desiresand goals.

The Sadducees were substituting their own doctrine for that of the Lord and the Bible. It is imperative that we compare our belief system with that of the Lord and be sure we are on the same page rather than in opposition to the clear teaching of the Word.

Verses 28-34

12:28 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? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 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. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32 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: 33 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. 34 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.

Now the Lord has a change of pace. He has a Jewish leader that is there for honest interaction. He is a man who was seeing the validity of the Lord’s conversations with the other leaders and saw the truth in what He was saying.

Now pastor you wouldn’t know anything about this would you - you know someone coming to you with questions that has no ulterior motive? So many believers tend to skirt the real issues rather than come to the forefront of what they want to know. Indeed, some come with questions meant to trap another in some way.

Pastor, learn as you can to sense other peoples motives as they come to ask questions. Try to understand where they are heading for two reasons. First, try to understand people’s motives, to avoid getting trapped into something and second, to assist the true seeker with their questions. Some will question surface issues and leave before actually gaining an answer to their true and deep question.

A young man came with question upon question relating to dating and I could tell he was asking every question in the book other than the one he wanted an answer to. Finally I asked him carefully what he really wanted to know. He paused for a moment then asked me if I thought a certain girl might go out with him. I said, you will never know till you ask. He asked and the two ended up married - now what if he had never asked the question that he really wanted to ask?

We will never know, but be sure seekers of information leave with the assistance that they seek.

We see another aspect of the Old Testament. Many today feel that an understanding of the Old Testament law is needed for the lost to understand the New Testament Gospel. There might be weight here for that belief. The man knew and understood the law thus Christ suggests he was close to being a follower. Barnes introduces this truth as well. "This shows that a properunderstanding of the Old Testament, of its laws and requirements, would prepare the mind for Christianity, and suit a person at once to embrace it when presented. One system is grafted on the other, agreeably to Galatians 3:24"

To the point of the Lord’s answer it would seem that He gave a summary of the Ten Commandments in two statements. If you look at the commandments the first section covers your commitment to God and the last section is about your commitment to man.

The man knew his commandments and knew that the Lord summed them up quite nicely.

Verses 35-37

12:35 And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? 36 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. 37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

It would seem that Christ is still speaking to the Scribe that had asked the question. This is also as identified as taking place in the temple. Christ is being quite in their face with his actions and teaching, even though they don’t seem to be getting the point.

The only reference to the Son of David in Mark is here and in chapter 10 where we studied the blind man who came to the Lord for healing. (Vs. 47-48)

Matthew expands on this somewhat, but Luke mentions that the Lord was referring to a Psalm when he mentions David. "For David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand," Luke 20:42

Verses 38-40

12:38 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, 39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

Upppppppsssss, there is that nasty word DOCTRINE that preachers hate. You see them scattering to all the dark corners when someone mentions doctrine or theology. I’ve mentioned before the many many times I have heard men in the pulpit deride doctrine and theology as if it were the plague to be avoided as if it were a terminal thing for the believer.

This word is the same word used many times for teaching in the New Testament. There is nothing sinister about it, just the teaching of the Word. Always amazes me that men deride that which they are engaged in - or in some cases should be engaged in. Teaching is the reason for going to church, it is so sad that so many churches have none. Much of the "teaching" in the church is little more than Readers Digest type shortening of the world’s philosophy.

Beware of the scribes:

They loved the following things:1. To go in long clothing: Flowing robes might be the idea - the going in clothing was not wrong but the loving of it was - the super self-evaluation that was going on with them was the problem. They were just too stuck on themselves.

Not unlike some today that are proud of their dress in church be it academic robes, suits, Easter dress, or casual, none are wrong, but the pride oft times involved might well be a problem for the person.

2. Love salutations in the marketplace: This would be salutations that called attention to those that were involved. Anything to draw attention to themselves.

Not unlike many cell phone users that parade around with their phone to their ear strutting as if they were really something more than they really are. How arrogant a person who leaves their phone on in church and even how much more arrogant the one that answers it in church or a meeting. It has been reported that people fake talking on the cell phone - now give one reason a person would do that other than pride and arrogance. How self important must that person be.

We have all seen this sort of person in our own time - one that is loud and obvious in their plea for attention from all in the area as they greet one another.

3. Love the chief seats in the synagogue: You know the ones; they are the ones in back just like in most of our churches, where you can head for the door if things get to hurtful to the soul - not. There are always special seats reserved for important people. In our churches they would be the ones on the platform for special speakers, the pastor and song leader.

I would assume similar seats were reserved in the synagogue for those in leadership and most certainly they would be sought by any self absorbed person who wanted more and more attention.

4. Love the uppermost rooms at feasts: This is an unfortunate translation, the thought being that they love the prominent place at meals or feasts. The custom then was to be prostrate on large pillows at the table. In our culture we have the head table or speakers table and that is where these men loved to be seated.

They had in mind the center of attention as could easily be anticipated from the rest of the passage.

Now a little personal account, I am not one of these. If there is a greeting in the marketplace I want it quiet and unnoticed. I hate attention, if speaking I usually am in the last row of the church where nobody is watching me if at all possible. If I am on the platform I try for the seat behind the pulpit. At dinners I find the place most out of the way where the chances of someone sitting with me are least.

As to long robes, when graduating from a second bachelors program I was talking to my church history professor. It was hot, we were standing outside in the sun in black robes waiting for things to begin and I was reminded of some of his comments from church history where some ofthese TRADITIONS started and how foolish such traditions were. When I reminded him of his comments all he could do was hang his head and admit we were in the middle of foolish tradition.

I do not describe myself for attention, nor to say how spiritual I am but to point out that this activity of the Jewish leaders might be related to personality traits to some extent, but attention once found can be easily addictive. Beware its wiles young graduate when you start receiving it - humility is the better.

On top of that they devour widows’ houses: It is obvious that they were doing more than just accepting the offerings of the widows, but actually taking them to the cleaners.

In some churches that are well established in older neighborhoods there are many widows that give and give and then when they die they give some more. I question not their motivation, but I might wonder at the churches that keep accepting such offerings that are sacrificial to put to the high wages of staff and programs.

Years ago we received a newsmagazine from one of the colleges I had attended. The cover was a copy of a handwritten note from an old man and his wife. The wife had received a little "birthday" money and she had her husband send it to the school. Five dollars from an old woman giving of all she had to the school that took the rest of the paper to speak of the massive building programs, sports programs and travel programs that were being planned - well and the massive pleas for more money.

I could just bet when that old woman sent her five dollars in she was not picturing in her mind assisting to send a faculty member to Europe for a trip. In short be wise and careful how you spend the offerings of your people and be aware of your widows. Are they giving more than they are able and suffering physically for it? Not to say you should not accept the offerings of the saints, but watchfulness over the sheep is always good.

On top of that they make long prayers for a pretense: Prayer in public is a hard subject to evaluate. There are people who pray as if your undivided attention were their very existence and the person may be as genuine as can be. Others are doing it to look spiritual and to gain attention for their status as a prayer.

Be careful in evaluating the prayers of others, it is hard to determine at times. The quiet person will pray and you wonder if they are spiritual at all since they are so halting and short in their speaking with the Lord. Prayer is the most personal part of the spiritual life so do not find yourself setting a status bar in your mind and aligning different ones to different levels.

The text mentions length as a criteria and this may well be the key. When I was small we attended a church where an older pastor was ministering. Part of the congregation wanted him out and ultimately they called a second pastor that was young. Both men tried their best to minister in this divided situation but it was not working. The church decided to have a prayer service to determine the direction of the church. They started the prayer time and three hours later my mother sent me home due to my sore seat of the pants and complete boredom. Not being a believer at the time I wondered at the foolishness of such "prayers" that went on and on and on. Some of the people were out for show in my mind and I also felt that many were so phony in asking God to do what they wanted rather than them finding what God might want and doing that.

Beware the phony prayer for show, you are not impressing God and He is the only one you need to deal with. He can understand short concise sentences just as easily as long detailed explanatory short stories. He does not need the fifty dollar words, He is capable of all sorts of language, dialect and verbiage. Just talk with Him and you will know that He is listening. More does not mean He listens more, only that you are repeating yourself to a God that understands the first time you say it.

"These shall receive greater damnation." These refer to the men and not their prayers.

Now let me take you on a little rabbit trail. This idea of a greater damnation indicates that there are levels of damnation in some way. We are not told how this works but it is a Biblical truth. There are levels of reward for the believer so to have levels of damnation for the lost seems quite consistent. The fact that Revelation mentions that the lost are judged by their works is another indicator of this "level of punishment." 2 Corinthians 11:15 tells us that the Devil’s assistants will also be judged according to their works in some manner. (Revelation 20:12-13 "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.")

When I was growing up there was a comic that was based on this premise. Rather than being just a strip of pictures it was one large picture of a scene in hell. The scene always depicted how different people would be treated and tormented in hell. The strip was called, if memory serves me well, Hatlo’s Inferno.

Just one example would be the person that never stops talking would be gagged and surrounded by dozens of people that will never ever stop talking.

Now, of course this idea of various levels of torment needs to be understood in light of the fact that they all are in eternal punishment in hell, even though there might be levels within that terrible torment.

One final thought before we leave the Scribes. The word translated "beware" has the thought of perceive or realize. It relates to watching as well for you cannot perceive without watching. Be watchful of people like the Scribes, watch out for people like the Scribes. How do you do that?

By watching for people that exhibit the qualities of the Scribes.

Watch out for and avoid people that love fancy clothes for attention’s sake. Beware of peoplethat love to make a show of that they know and who they greet. Take note of people that like to bring attention to themselves in church. Beware those that want the attention at the potluck and take note of those that abuse the widows. Note the phony prayers of these folks as well.

These folks are phony and out for their own self-adulation as well as to seek the adulation of all that they meet and associate with. These folks are not humble - they are the opposite. Mark them, take note of them and beware of them. Do not become like them, and avoid their teaching would be the underlying thought since they had been misleading the people about who Christ was. They were attempting to lead the people away from their Messiah come.

Years ago John R. Rice was speaking at a church in town along with another prominent man. I had enjoyed some of Rice’s books and wanted to go hear him. The other man spoke first and what an arrogant and proud man he seemed during and after his message. It is of note that I remember nothing of his message but remember everything of his attitude, air and demeanor.

When he started twisting arms for the offering we had our fill and left the meeting. He was asking those that were going to give a certain amount to raise their hands, then those that were going to give an even higher amount were to stand for the adulation of the folks around them, my what showmanship! In short he was expanding his pride to those that he was trying to encourage in his own shortfall. It was obviously working for those that stood looked around in all directions to be sure everyone got to see their face and know what they were doing. Oh how everyone knew what they were doing - if only the proud had known how they appeared to others.

When he closed his message and began to pray the pianist started playing softly. He stopped short and in a very curt way told the pianist to stop playing, that he did not need music when he prayed. The wife happened to listen to his radio program the next day and music was playing in the background when he prayed.

From the reports that I have read his humility did not decrease over the years and many have warned of his teachings. I am sure the man had a lot of good to tell the church, but I am also afraid much of it was lost in his arrogance, self righteousness and poor teaching. Sadly many have followed in his stead to repeat the problems that they learned from the master.

Be very careful who you hitch your wagon to. If you take an example to follow make it one that would fit into the image of Christ, not the image of the Scribes.

Verses 41-44

12:41 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. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 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: 44 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.

Just some thoughts about the woman and then about giving in general.She gave all she had, she gave in faith that the Lord would provide and she was not worried about a pay package. She was doing for God, expecting Him to do for her - she had done all she could do.

What a contrast, the rich casting in much and not much notice from the Lord and the woman gives all that she had and she was noted by the Lord. Our giving is first of all observed by the Lord, but more importantly it is evaluated against what we have or have not. "Give according to your income lest God make your income according to your giving" Peter Marshall

OLD TESTAMENT GIVING:

TITHE ONE: For the Levites. Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:20-24

TITHE TWO: For the yearly feast. Deuteronomy 12:5-6; Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:13; Deuteronomy 14:22-27

TITHE THREE: For the Widows and orphans to eat (every three years). Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 26:12

From Unger’s Bible Dictionary – p. 1103. "From all this we gather: 1. That one tenth of the whole produce of the soil was to be assigned for the maintenance of the Levites. 2. That out of this the Levites were to dedicate a tenth to God for the use of the high priest. 3. That a tithe, in all probability a second tithe, was to be applied to festival purposes. 4. That in every third year either this festival tithe or a third tenth was to be eaten in company with the poor and the levites."

(Unger goes on to mention that Josephus lists this third tithe as a separate tithe from the first two.)

THEN THERE WAS FREE WILL OFFERINGS:

The tabernacle was to be done with free will offerings. Exodus 25:1-8 (as hearts were moved). Leviticus 22:17 ff also mentions free will offering

They gave as their heart was stirred. Exodus 35:21; Exodus 35:29

They gave so much that they were told to stop giving. Exodus 36:5-6 (Imagine that happening in the churches of today.

NEW TESTAMENT GIVING:

1. A PRIVILEGE AND RESPONSIBILITY. Hebrews 13:16

2. CHRIST IS OUR EXAMPLE OF GIVING. 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Hebrews 13:6

3. NOT RELUCTANTLY OR UNDER COMPULSION. 2 Corinthians 9:7

4. SHOULD BE EAGERLY GIVEN. 2 Corinthians 8:12

5. IN ANTICIPATION OF RESULTS. 2 Corinthians 9:6-9; Mark 10:29-30; Matthew 6:19-21

6. ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSE IN THE HEART. 2 Corinthians 9:7

7. CHEERFULLY. 2 Corinthians 9:7

8. VOLUNTARILY. 2 Corinthians 9:7

9. EVEN THOSE IN POVERTY CAN GIVE. 2 Corinthians 8:2

10. AS GOD PROSPERS. 1 Corinthians 16:2

11. ACCORDING TO WHAT HE HAS. 2 Corinthians 8:12

12. SACRIFICIALLY IF YOU WANT. Hebrews 13:16

13. ACCORDING TO FREE WILL PRINCIPLE OF THE Old Testament 2 Corinthians 8:3; 2 Corinthians 8:12

14. IT SEEMS EVERYONE IS EXPECTED TO BE INVOLVED THOUGH NOT FORCED TO BE. 1 Corinthians 16:2

15. MAY AFFECT SPIRITUAL MINISTRY. Luke 16:10

16. PLANNED. 1 Corinthians 16:2

17. LOOKING FOR BLESSING. Acts 20:35

18. GIVE TILL IT HURTS? Luke 21:1-4

19. GIVE FOR THE FUTURE. Matthew 6:19-20

20. GIVE IN OBSCURITY. Matthew 6:1-4

21. GIVE EVEN IF YOU ARE POOR AND IN AFFLICTION. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

22. GOD IS CREATOR. Genesis 1:1; Psalms 24:1 (He owns everything)

23. SPECIAL PROJECT GIVING? 1 Corinthians 16:2

IN SHORT, PUT GOD FIRST.

Note a "certain" widow - wonder if He and the disciples knew who she was?

Luke 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

1. She by faith believed that her contribution would make a difference.

2. She by faith believed that her contribution would be acceptable to God.

3. She by faith believed that her contribution would be accepted by the temple officials.

4. She by faith gave all that she had.

5. She by faith trusted God for her coming needs.

He didn’t compare her giving to one other giver, but to ALL.

(from the daily bread Wed. May 4 Sorry, do not know what year)

John A. Broadus one Sunday followed the usher around as the offering was collected watching what the people placed in the plates. Some were angry and all were confused. He then returned to the pulpit and explained that the Lord watched the widow and He watches each time they place something in the offering.

"God not only looks at the face of your check, He also looks at the balance on the stub."

APPLICATION:

1. We have seen in this passage that the Lord walking among men was totally misunderstood by many, He was rejected by many others and He ultimately received response from many more. Inlight of the various degrees of knowledge Spurgeon in his Morning and Evening devotional has some good comment. "Spiritual knowledge of Christ will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person’s acquaintance with him. No, I must know him myself; I must know him on my own account. It will be an intelligent knowledge-I must know him, not as the visionary dreams of him, but as the Word reveals him. I must know his natures, divine and human. I must know his offices-his attributes-his works-his shame-his glory. I must meditate upon him until I "comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." It will be an affectionate knowledge of him; indeed, if I know him at all, I must love him."

2. The fact that different groups of Jews came to the Lord at different times shows that all were out to get the Lord killed, yet coming as individuals might mean that there was a competition going on between the groups. A let us see who is going to get Him first sort of thing.

Competition for believers is usually not a good thing. Try to be cooperative amongst yourselves rather than competitive.

Years ago we were members of the missions committee and the church was way behind on missionary commitments due to low giving and spending missions money on church bills. The church body met and committed to meeting the missions commitment by the end of the year.

The pastor gave the missions committee the job of trying to raise money for the missions deficit and we took the challenge. The committee met a number of times to plan some internal fund raising events and some programs to stir some excitement toward the need of raising a lot of money.

The plans went off without a problem; the money was raised along with a couple thousand extra which enriched the missions committee budget.

All were excited about the setting aside of the deficit and the success of the plans as well as the newfound excitement about missions in the church body. Well everyone but the budget committee who thought they should have been the ones to be charged with raising the money. The friction that ensued was not long lasting nor rancorous, but it was unneeded, uncalled for and "competition" that was not needed within the church body. Instead of rejoicing about the body’s commitment to meet their commitments and the excitement of raising the funds, some decided to argue about who got the glory.

3. Gill mentions that Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is one of the passages placed in the phylacteries of Jesus day and are now those that Conservative Jews wear today. They also repeat this passage morning and evening.

Now, just what do you do morning and evening? Do you spend time considering God’s word morning and evening? Do you wear any sign of your commitment to God? No, today we do not wear signs of our commitment unless it might be a cross, though that is less a sign of commitment than a visit to the jewelry shop since lost and saved alike wear the cross. We mightwear our Christianity on our being which is always a good thing though not enough of us do that these days I fear.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 "4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."

This passage follows the recounting of the Ten Commandments presented in the previous chapter of Deuteronomy.

Thus we see why they wear them in a box strapped to their forehead and repeat the verses morning and night. Oh, yes we can find all sorts of reasons to do either one. We would not want to embarrass anyone (like ourselves) nor would we want to offend the other religions of the world thus we should not do anything outward and no we would not want to ritualize our time with the Lord by repeating the same passage over and over. And we must not forget that this is the Church age, not the Law age, so we do not have to do such things. All of this is true, but even if you believe all this and I do, just what do you do to show your commitment to the Lord in your everyday life? I trust you either have an answer to this or set yourself to some plan to prepare and institute an answer.

Just how do you plan to love the Lord in a way that is in keeping with this passage? How do you plan to show the Lord that love? Will you make a commitment to answer these questions in coming days so that you can give answer to the Lord when He asks you how much you love Him?

No do not make it a habit that you feel you have to keep, make it a commitment that you want to keep. God is a living God and He relates to us on a personal live basis rather than in some quiet and dead manner that our habits and rituals usually are.

4. Verse five of the Deuteronomy passage mentions "5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

Heart, soul and might are the mentioned terms. We are to love God with all our heart the tender spot that aims toward God, with our soul the center of who we are and with our might the physical being, the power of the body. There seems little to the imagination here - with all our being, everything we are and everything we can do we are to love God. How does that translate into your life and mine?

Our hearts should be centered on Him, not other things of this world, but upon God, the provider of our salvation. Our soul or mental faculties should be aimed toward Him with all of our power and then with our physical being we should be working for Him to show the love that we havefor Him. How else can we demonstrate our love for Him if we do not respond with our heart soul and body to Him in any and every way that we can.

"All" is quite a word and means all or complete or whole. Now how can you give the Lord Sunday morning and live like the world all week? How can you do ALL while sitting in front of the television or in the theatre hour upon hour filling your mind with everything but God?

Preachers are great at parroting the phrase, "Some believers are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good." Uhhhhh, me think that the phrase is false as well as the preachers point of being to spiritual. There seems no such thing when viewing this passage - ALL does not allow for part, nor some, nor most of - it requires ALL.

It would seem in light of this passage that pastors that use this phrase to diminish the believer’s spirituality are in error and are quite foolish in leading their sheep to believe that they shouldn’t be completely sheep, but that they can be sheep some of the time but that they should also be cows at other times.

We are called to love God with our entire being and there is no opening for less than such a complete turning over of the being to God. Now if you can watch those trashy television programs that you know you watch while concentrating on God feel free, but please be a little more honest with yourself than that - God knows your train of thought when you are watching those programs with the trashy mind numbing worldly scripts, dress and actions.

Years ago I challenged a congregation with how they live with an overhead projector transparency of a man in a recliner watching television going up into the air in the rapture. No we will not be taking our furniture with us but the way we live one would think that we could - that is the way we are living our lives. My challenge to the congregation was, just what do you want to be doing when He comes to take us home.

Ephesians 4:8 reminds us of this subject. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue and if [there be] any praise, think on these things."

Copyright Statement
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Mark 12". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sdn/mark-12.html.