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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
Mark 12

 

 

Verses 1-12

CONTENTS.

The LORD is here teaching in Parables. The Pharisees and Herodians try to catch JESUS in his words. The LORD blessedly discourseth on the Resurrection, and with a Scribe: he cautions against the Scribes. The Chapter closeth with the LORD's Commendation of the Widow's Offering to the Treasury.

AND he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an 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 well beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. (7) 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. (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.

We had this parable, Matthew 21:33, to which I refer. But in addition to what was there observed, it may not be improper briefly to remark, that in this, as well as some other parables of CHRIST, we are to keep in remembrance as we pass through the several parts of it, that as it is a parable, we are not to strain the expressions beyond the figure intended; no do more in the application of the whole than as evidently the LORD intended it in a general, way. That the chief scope of it is to shew the LORD's ill-treatment from the Jewish nation is certain; and the several characters represented in the parable as, plainly mark it out. The certain man here spoken of is GOD the FATHER the vineyard as is elsewhere described, is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant. Isaiah 5:7. The servants at different times said to be sent, are the Prophets, and faithful messengers preparatory to the coming of CHRIST and his SON the LORD JESUS CHRIST. But when it is said that this certain man went into a far country; that this certain man, put a may be upon the reception his SON might receive; it may be, they will reverence my SON. These are parabolical expressions, and not to be construed in their exact literal sense and meaning. The LORD is everywhere, and always present; and therefore can neither be said to withdraw, nor, go forth. Neither could the LORD be supposed to say, that there was a probability CHRIST would be reverenced by the nation, the Jews, to whom he was sent: for provision was only made for those to reverence CHRIST, of whom he himself spake, and every other: JESUS himself assigned the cause, wherefore they would not accept him. See John 6:37; John 8:43. But the parable is intended to shew the nation the Jews, in their national character. And the event, in the destruction of the Jewish nation, exactly corresponded to the predictions CHRIST here delivered. The whole nation was overthrown, and the people which survived the destruction of Jerusalem, were scattered over the face of the earth.


Verses 13-17

(13) If 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 per son of men: but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Cesar, 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, Cesar's. (17) And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Cesar the things that are Cesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.

It was said of the LORD JESUS, under the spirit of prophecy, that with the hypocritical mockers were those that gnashed upon him with their teeth. Psalms 35:16. And here we behold them in deep design. If to the question of the lawfulness to give tribute to Caesar, JESUS had said, no; the Herodians would have apprehended him as an enemy to government. And if the LORD had justified Caesar's claim, the whole nation of the Jews would have been against him, as they were all longing for deliverance from the yoke, and the very gatherers of the taxes were called publicans, and classed only as sinners. I beg the Reader not only to remark how much wisdom JESUS displayed in avoiding the trap which they had laid for him, but how blessedly he took occasion to remind them of what they owed to GOD. Who can indeed render to the LORD his due?


Verses 18-27

(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. (26) 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 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.

I detain the Reader, at the entrance, upon this most beautiful discourse, of the LORD JESUS, to remark to him, how graciously the LORD made every occasion minister to his glory, and his people's welfare. Here were the captious Sadducees, the free-thinkers of our LORD's generation, who came to him for no purpose, but to entangle Jesus in his talk. And observe, what a very blessed opportunity the LORD made of it, to speak upon that interesting subject, concerning the resurrection. It becomes a confirmation of that precious scripture; Surely, the wrath of man shall praise thee, the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. The LORD will use just so much of man's wrath, as shall minister to the LORD's purpose, in the promotion of his glory; and all that is over and above, as the violent stream at a mill, shalt be turned into another channel. Psalms 76:10.

The junction of those different sects of men, Sadducees with the Herodians, was simply with a view to gall CHRIST. Everyone will join in the attempt to crush CHRIST however like Herod and Pontius Pilate, in other matters, they are at enmity between themselves. Luke 23:12. So was it then, so is it now, and so will it be, during the whole of the present world, it is blessed to know this, and blessed to prove it. The most violent enemies against CHRIST, while the LORD was on earth, were the self-righteous Pharisees; and the greatest opposers to his purest truths now, are the same characters.

The question put by those men, was founded in consummate ignorance; and as our LORD told them, because they knew not the scriptures; that is, they knew nothing of the scripture, but the mere letter; and had never felt the power of GOD in them, by the LORD's teaching. Seven brethren marrying one and the same woman, or had the case been seventy times seven if possible, it would have been the same thing; for all the connections of nature in this life, are wholly for, the purposes of this life, and are dissolved at death.

Our LORD therefore in declaring the children of the resurrection to be as the angels, gave a full and decisive answer to this, and every, other question of the like nature. But the occasion was too fair to stuffer it to pass unnoticed, as the subject might be made to minister to his people's comfort; and therefore the LORD JESUS not only proceeded in it, by way of establishing the certainty of the doctrine itself, but of throwing some divine light upon it, which have proved ever since, and ever will, until the whole conic to be realized in glory, of the most blessed, and unspeakable joy to his Church.

The LORD, takes only a single circumstance from the Old Testament scripture, in confirmation of the soul refreshing doctrine, as in itself more than sufficient for this purpose; namely the call of GOD to Moses at the bush. No doubt it was JESUS himself, who in his covenant relation as GOD-Man Mediator, before his more open revelation of himself in that character, which spake to Moses at the bush. So Stephen believed. Acts 7:30. where he calls him an angel (or Messenger) of the LORD. And so in fact the LORD JESUS himself intimated, when in his conference with the Jews, he declared his existence to have been before Abraham, and called himself I AM. Compare John 8:58, with Exodus 3:14. But passing this by, for the present if we consider what the LORD JESUS here saith to the Sadducees, we shalt discover that nothing can be more decisive in confirmation of the resurrection. The LORD quotes the expressions made use of by the LORD to Moses at the bush. I am the GOD of Abraham and the GOD of Isaac and the GOD of Jacob. Now at the time that these blessed truths were delivered, these Patriarchs had been long dead, and their bodies mouldered into dust. And yet, GOD declares him, self as much their GOD as ever. The LORD doth not say I was their GOD, when living in their bodies; but I am so now. A thing in itself impossible, if Abraham, though dead in body, was not then living in spirit. Hence the LORD adds, GOD is not the GOD of the dead, but the GOD of the living: and as Luke hath the words in his Gospel, it is added, for all live unto him. Luke 20:38. And Paul, under the authority of the HOLY GHOST, was directed to teach the Church that whether believers lived, or died, they were the LORD's. For (said he) to this end, CHRIST both died, and rose and revived, that he might be LORD both of the dead and living. Romans 14:8-9. I pray the Reader by the way, to join this blessed passage with the two just before referred to. John 8:58. with Exodus 3:14, in confirmation that it was our LORD CHRIST, who spake to Moses at the bush; and may the LORD give hint a right understanding in all things.

Now then from the whole of this most blessed, and highly interesting passage, I venture to believe the following conclusions are undeniable. First, that the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were in their spirits, living in a state of separate existence from their, bodies, at the time the LORD spake to Moses from the bush, when he called himself their GOD. Secondly, that the LORD in this call to Moses, declaring himself as he did in his covenant relationship to those Patriarchs, most fully and plainly implied his engagements with the whole persons of each, both soul and body; and therefore the LORD could not be supposed to be understood, as solemnly acknowledging this relationship, which was made at a time when both existed together, if one part of the being of those persons was annihilated, never more to exist. Thirdly, the very recognizing this glorious title of the Patriarch's GOD in covenant, at a time their ashes were in the dust, solemnly confirmed the assurance of their resurrection. And, fourthly, the fulfillment of GOD's covenant made with those Patriarchs, depended upon the soul and body of each being again united; since not only without it, the covenant promises of GOD could only be with one part of their persons; but also the happiness of each could only be in part, if the body forever remained separate from the soul. Reader! ponder well these things: give thyself wholly to them. In JESUS, behold the resurrection and the life, And oh for grace from GOD the HOLY GHOST, to have part in the first resurrection; on such the second death haft no power! Revelation 20:6; See Mark 16:9; 1 Corinthians 15:20.


Verses 28-34

(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.

If we were not well acquainted with the general character of the Scribes, we might be led to hope, that this man's question was with a better design than the Sadducees. But there is nothing neutral in the holy war. JESUS himself hath decided; he that is not with me is against me: Matthew 12:30. But whether a friend or foe, our LORD hath blessedly taught the divine unity existing in a threefold character of persons, and followed it up with all its blessed consequences. The precious passage from one of the books of Moses, which the LORD refers to in proof, is in itself more than half confirmation of the glorious truth of the whole Bible, that the LORD JEHOVAH, the one Eternal and true GOD exists in a threefold character of persons; for otherwise, wherefore is Israel called upon to hear that the LORD thy GOD (that is, GOD in covenant) is one LORD! It never could have entered the apprehension of the human mind untaught of GOD, Or anything beside. But when the LORD was pleased to reveal himself, as in a great variety of parts in scripture he hath done, in his persons and in the covenant engagements between the persons of the GODHEAD, it formed in the LORD's grace great mercy to his people, to remind them at the same time of the unity of the Divine Essence. Reader! the LORD grant that you and I may so hear, and so love each and every person of the GODHEAD, and know them in all their office-characters and relations, that it may become a proof of our true regeneration of heart; since by nature there is no love, but enmity in us towards the Almighty Author of our being, till GOD who commandeth the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of GOD, in the face of JESUS CHRIST. 2 Corinthians 4:6.


Verses 35-40

(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. (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 market-places, (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.

These observations of the LORD JESUS, masked, and, as it should seem unexpected, because he had put all his enemies to silence, so as to presume to ask him no more questions, come in very sweetly after the former. Having there established the glorious mystery of One Eternal and Divine JEHOVAH existing in a threefold character of persons; the LORD JESUS here goes on to preach the second wonderful mystery of GOD manifest in the flesh. And in the question concerning CHRIST, at once David's LORD and David's Son, he confirms the doctrine most completely. Luke 1:32; 1 Timothy 3:16; John 1:14; Revelation 22:16. Matthew hath more largely given the LORD's discourse upon this occasion, in his condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees. I therefore refer to it. Mat 23. throughout. (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.

It is likely that when the LORD had caused all his foes to quit the field, he sat down with his disciples near the treasury door. Those who have described the Temple, speak of several chests which were placed there to receive the voluntary offerings of the people. This poor widow attracted the special notice of JESUS. How little was she conscious whose eye was upon her! How little did she think that this private retired act would be published to the very end of time in the Church of CHRIST, and be had in everlasting remembrance. Reader! what have we to cast into the LORD's treasury? Indeed, and in truth, nothing but what we have first received. We have too mites; soul and body: and these are both the LORD's. Oh! for grace to give both these; and JESUS looking on; JESUS disposing to the act, and JESUS accepting all to his glory. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.


Verse 40

REFLECTIONS.

PAUSE my soul over the many precious contents in this blessed chapter! Both the Jewish nation, and the Jewish church, have been as the LORD's vineyard. Oh! the boundless grace of JEHOVAH in setting apart that people with whom he deposited his Ordinances; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh CHRIST came, who is over all GOD blessed forever, Amen. But oh! the wonderful provocations of Israel, in slighting the LORD's servants rising early and speaking, but regarding them not; till at length they killed the LORD of life and glory! But, Reader! are we then by nature or by practice better than they? Oh! no, in no wise. The LORD hath concluded all under sin, that the righteousness of GOD, which is by faith of Jesus CHRIST, might be given to them that believe. Oh! the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of GOD!

My soul! behold thy LORD attacked in every way, by men calling him Rabbi; and professing great regard to his person, for his teaching the way of GOD in truth; and by Pharisee and Sadducee, by Herodians and by Scribes, aiming to catch him in his words! Oh! thou divine and Almighty Teacher, cause thy blessed truths in this chapter to sink deep into my heart! LORD! be thou everlastingly blessed for thy gracious discoveries concerning the glorious truths of thy resurrection. LORD! be thou my resurrection, and my life Give me to know Israel's GOD in covenant as one LORD! And oh! give me grace to love Him in his threefold character of Person, FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength. And in the love of GOD may my affections find sweet directions, to the love of my neighbour. So will David's LORD be my LORD, and his CHRIST my CHRIST. And like the poor widow, the LORD's treasury will have my whole living; since all I have, and all I am, are the LORD'S, and of His own only do I give him,

 


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 12:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/mark-12.html. 1828.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 24th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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