January 14 - Mark 12
GOTCHA POLITICS - One of the most distasteful aspects of politics is the 'gotcha' word games that both sides play against each other, where the idea is to trap your opponent into saying something that makes them look really bad. This is the context of chapter 12, where the 'Establishment Gang' of Pharisees, teachers of the law and Sadducees are trying to trap Jesus into saying something they can bring Him down with. The ironic thing is that these three groups can't stand each other (it's as if the Democrats & Republicans joined forces), and the only thing that unites them is their hatred of Jesus. Why do you think Jesus is such a threat to them?
STAGE FRIGHT: The gang (see above) would arrest Jesus on the spot, except that "they were afraid of the crowd" (v12). This is the second irony of this chapter: the same crowd that in a few days will yell "CRUCIFY HIM" is at this point protecting Jesus.
MEMORIZE: v29b-31 - the first clause is called the Shema, and every Jewish child memorized it, and we should to: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. The second clause - Love the Lord your God... - follows the Shema in Deuteronomy 6, and the final clause is found in Leviticus 19.
CLOSE DOESN'T COUNT: The teacher of the law who discussed the greatest commandment with Jesus in v28-34 was commended by Jesus for being 'not far from the kingdom of God' in v34. The teacher was close - in order to enter the kingdom of God one must perfectly love God and his neighbor - but close doesn't count. None of us are able to do this perfectly. We need to let go of ourselves and trust fully in Christ's righteousness to enter the kingdom.
NO MORE QUESTIONS: Jesus crushed every question the gang used tried to pin Him down by pointing to the sovereign authority of the Lord God (v10, 17, 24, 29, 34, 36). The gang couldn't catch Him because Jesus had the power of God. After the gang saw this, v34 states that 'no one dared ask Him any more questions.' You have this same power in you as well: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Cor 1:18).
PRETTY COOL FACT: Jesus mentions in v36 that David was "speaking by the Holy Spirit" when David wrote Psalms. The words we are reading are not a normal book... they are the Word of God!
CROWD WATCH: "The large crowd listened to Jesus with delight" (v37). The crowd didn't like the Establishment Gang, and when they heard Jesus talking about King David, they jumped to the wrong conclusion: Jesus was going to topple the establishment, and then go on to throw off their Roman oppressors and re-establish David's Kingdom... in other words, give them exactly what they wanted. Jesus did come to re-establish the throne of David, but when it comes time for them to pick up their cross and follow their King, the crowd won't be so delighted.
Concentrate on praising our sovereign, triune God in your prayer. Start with the Shema, then add the first few lines of the Lord's prayer: hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done.
Note that this prayer makes no specific requests, but also note how much peace you have after praying it that all of your needs are being tended to by your Sovereign Father.
Psalm 119:9-16 Living According To God’s Word Will Keep You On The Pathso make the time to be taught By God’s Word
Monday - God's Word saves and helps us make us look more and more like Christ.
Tuesday - The key to living in Christ is to live according to God's Word.
Wednesday - God is the perfect model, we are made in His image, so learn from Him.
Thursday - Delight, meditate, rejoice in God's Word, then recount it to others.
Friday - Don't be lazy and neglect God's Word.