Mark 12 Reading Guide
v1-12 - Once again, Jesus teaches in parables, which are sort of riddles designed so His followers would understand, but others left wondering.
Jesus tells of a land developer who builds a vineyard then leases it out.
Unfortunately, not only do the tenants not pay rent, but they beat or kill all who come to collect.
Ultimately, the owner's beloved son is sent, but is also killed.
Finally, the owner has had enough and forcefully evicts the tenants.
The establishment doesn't miss the meaning of this parable.
They know it's a metaphor in which they (and all other sinners) are the tenants about to be evicted.
Yet they're hamstrung and unable to respond because they're afraid of the crowd.
v13-17 - It's often said that politics makes strange bedfellows, and that an enemy of an enemy is a friend. So it is now with the 'establishment.' The Pharisees (who hate Rome) team up with the Herodians (who've sold out to Rome), because the only thing they have in common is their fear that Jesus is a threat to their future.
They once again try to trap Jesus, but once again Jesus deftly dodges their attempt and makes them look silly.
Ironically, these members of the establishment end up joining the very diverse list of people who are 'amazed' by Jesus (v17).
v18-27 - The next to join the establishment's cavalcade are the Sadducees, a relatively unknown group who were part of the Jewish ruling council (the Sanhedrin), but disagreed on nearly every issue with the Pharisees... except for their fear of Jesus.
The Sadducees effort to torpedo Jesus is perhaps the most pathetic of all.
One key belief that set the Sadducees apart from other Jews was their denial of an afterlife or resurrection.
Yet the hypothetical situation they use to entrap Jesus ironically presupposes a resurrection.
Jesus' answer is awesome: He says, "Are you wrong:"
A) Because you do not know the scriptures?
B) Because you do not know the power of God?
v28-34 - The last to join the establishment's coalition is a religious law teacher.
He recognizes Jesus' wisdom, and sincerely asks what the most important command of God is.
Jesus responds with the Shema, which every Jewish child would learn to recite daily:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Jesus adds another Old Testament text to it:
Love your neighbor as yourself
The law teacher commends Jesus' answer.
Jesus' next reply sounds kind, but actually ought have been quite troubling to the teacher:
You are not far from the Kingdom of God.
In other words, following God's laws will get you close to the Kingdom, but not into the Kingdom. For that, you must rely on the righteousness of Christ.
After this, the establishment gave up their entrapment efforts.
v35-44 - Jesus continues teaching, and "the large crowd listened to Him with delight (v37)."
As He taught, Jesus condemns the establishment, saying that they'll be punished most severely (v40).
Instead of giving the establishment the honor they craved, Jesus gives it to the poor widow who gave out of her poverty (v44).
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22. Read it in its context to see how much more of the Psalm applies to the situation Jesus was in (the Hebrew word translated in v25 = Hos-anna).
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: What did the poor widow put into the temple treasury as her offering? (See verse 42.)
Why do you think it is that the one thing that unites the world is opposition to God? How do we see this in our day and age?
Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God; The Lord is one
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: