This study covers chapter 12 and includes some of the toughest questioning Jesus received in the days before His crucifixion. As the Passover Lamb, He was being inspected for any spot or blemish that would disqualify Him.
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This is Mark 12. I’m just going to do this one chapter tonight, because the next time we get together we’ll be obviously in Mark 13, and that is a chapter that will occupy all of our time. And so, by taking 12 tonight we’ll be ready for 13 next time. And there’s plenty here in chapter 12 to talk about, in fact, every one of these little segments of Mark 12 has had some real powerful information in it for us and so let’s jump right in.
He then began to speak to them in parables
Speak to the crowd that was around. You know, this is the last few days of His life, and He is in the temple area and He is teaching the pilgrims who have all come for Passover. A huge swelling of the city takes place during Passover, because Passover was one of the three annual holy days that every able bodied male Jewish person was required to be in Jerusalem. And if people couldn’t make any of the other ones, they always made Passover. That was the most popular one.
And so the city was huge during that time, and temple areas were crowded with pilgrims and of course the Lord’s right there in the middle of it teaching in the last few days of His life.
This will be during the period of time when, according to Exodus 12, He will be most carefully and minutely inspected. You know, He came to fulfill the prophecy of the Passover Lamb, and Exodus 12 says that on the tenth day you select the lamb. The tenth day was Palm Sunday, that’s the day He was selected; that’s the only day of His ministry that He permitted them to call Him the Messiah, the King of the Jews.
And so, that was the selection process, that Palm Sunday event, was the selection process. Now it says after you’ve selected them, it says to take care of them and to inspect them for the following three days which would be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
In fulfilling this aspect of the Passover lamb, the Lord’s doctrine will be very carefully and minutely inspected, and that’s what we’re going to see here in chapter 12. They’re going to ask Him a whole bunch of questions, He’s going to give them answers, they’re going to be amazed at His teaching, and by the time we get to the end of chapter 12 He will have gone through this inspection.
Now, the purpose of inspecting the lamb was to make sure it was perfect. If the lamb was not perfect it was not suitable to be the sacrifice on Passover. And in the Lord’s time, the appearance of one freckle on one of the gums of the lamb was enough to disqualify it because Exodus said the lamb had to be without spot or blemish, okay? And a freckle is a spot, and so if there was a freckle anywhere on the lamb, disqualified.
All right, and so that’s how minutely and for three days they would inspect those lambs for any possible defect that would disqualify them. And of course, Thursday is Passover, Friday began the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Saturday was the Sabbath, Sunday was the Feast of First Fruits, and so it was a week filled with holy observances.
You had selection on the first day, Sunday, the inspection of the lamb for the next three days, then you had Passover where the lamb was sacrificed, then you had the Feast of Unleavened Bread which started the very next day and was a holy Sabbath on which no work could be done, then you had the regular Sabbath the day after that, and then the first day of the week again, Sunday, was Resurrection morning.
And so it was a huge; the week was incredibly intense as far as not only the religious observance of the Jewish people, but also as far as the spiritual goings on. Many of the 300 prophecies that were fulfilled in the Lord’s First Coming were fulfilled during this last week of the Lord’s life.
In fact, the Gospel of John devotes half of the 22 chapters to this last week of the Lord’s time on Earth. And out of the 800 and some verses in the Gospel of John, almost one third of them in one day, the day of His death.
And so it was a very, very detailed time and we’re getting a whole lot of information here. And Mark, even though Mark’s Gospel goes ‘bing bing bing like this’—from here to there to something else—every one of the little vignettes, the little events we’re going to look at here tonight contains powerful Gospel, powerful theology. Because they’re trying to find something wrong in what the Lord’s saying, they’re trying to find some way to say, “That’s not true, that doesn’t fit with the Scriptures, you can’t be the Messiah because the Messiah would not dispute the Scriptures.” And so they’re looking for some way to disqualify Him, to dispute His claim to be the Messiah.
All right so chapter 12 says:
Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.
Because that was his right, it was his vineyard so he gets part of the crop as rent.
But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all,
And so, the important part of that little phrase “last of all” means that Jesus is the last of the prophets. The Book of Hebrews confirms this in the very first chapter, very first verse it says:
In the past God has sent many prophets who spoke to us in many different ways, but in these last days he has sent his Son,
And so, these two passages confirm the fact that Jesus was the last of the prophets, the very last one. Now don’t be confused, there are people running around today who have the gift of prophecy, but there are no prophets of God walking on the face of the Earth today. There are no prophets, no one holds the office of prophet today except the Lord Himself. And don’t let anybody tell you, somebody comes and says, “I’m a prophet of God.” Well, no you’re not, because there’s only one. He’s the one who holds the office, He’s the only one there is. Okay.
He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
Because according to the law, if a man died with no heirs, his property became sort of public and anybody could claim it. And so the workers said, “Well, if we kill the son, he’s the heir, when he dies there won’t be anybody to inherit the property, we’ll make a claim for ourselves it’ll be ours.”
And verse 8 said:
So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
Now that’s 11 verses we’ve read here without interruption, so we can’t let that stand. We’ll have to go back now and look at some other things.
Okay, so the first thing I want you to look at is Leviticus 25:23.
Leviticus 25:23 so you can see who He’s talking about here, who is the landowner and whose vineyard it is, and where did the vineyard come from. And so, in Leviticus 25:23 we get the answer.
The Lord, speaking to the Jews, as they come into the Promised Land He says:
“‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.
Okay, so that gives us the key to what the parable is talking about. The landowner is the Lord, the land is Israel, and the tenants that He turned it over to are the Jews, okay? And so this is what the story comes down to.
I want you to understand that carefully because this is a big issue today, isn’t it? The Lord says:
“‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.
Does Israel have the right to give away any of its land? No it does not. And every time they try it causes huge problems doesn’t it? Because the Lord said, “No, you can’t do that, that land is not yours to give; this land is Mine.”
And so whenever you hear about land for peace, you always understand that every time they do that they don’t get peace in return, do they? They get more war because this is a violation of God’s law, they are not allowed to give this land away.
I’m talking about the land that is within the boundaries of the original land grant. Now you know after the 1967 war, you remember when Israel conquered the whole Sinai desert? Almost halfway to Cairo, and in fact, they would have got to Cairo if they hadn’t been stopped.
But in the Camp David Peace Accords, Israel gave the desert back to Egypt. And their justification for doing this is that the Sinai Peninsula was not part of the original land grant. And so they not only could give it back, they should give it back, because that land was not part of the land the Lord gave them. They had captured it in war, but it was not part of what the Lord gave them, and they justified giving it back because of that fact.
Now, when it comes up to the west bank, different story. Because that, what we know as the west bank, in Biblical times was known as Judea and Samaria. Biblical lands, part of the land grant, not subject to sale. They can’t sell it, they can’t even give it away. Because it isn’t theirs, they’re just tenants.
Okay, so this is one of the first major issues that we get into here tonight that’s covered here in this parable, and that is, the tenants don’t have the right to sell the property. If you’re a landlord and you have tenants and they sell your property, are you going to be upset? Absolutely you are.
Hey, I’ve been a landlord and I’ve had all these things happen to me; I put a nice lawn in one of my properties one time, and I found out a few weeks later that the tenants moved out, didn’t tell me they were leaving. I went down to look at the property and they had rolled up all the sod that I had just put in the front yard and taken it with them! [laughing] That’s not polite, that’s kind of rude! And so, I remembered this passage in the Bible. It’s not theirs! They can’t give that away, they can’t take it. All right, so I don’t know what in the world they did with it, but I never got it back.
All right, so that’s one issue. Now in Matthew’s version of this, Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell the same parable and it’s a little bit different in each one.
In Matthew’s version it’s in chapter 21, we’re going to take a quick look at that because there’s something he says right at the end that Peter doesn’t have Mark write down, but I want you to see it. Matthew 21:43, see Mark’s version ends with the quote from Psalm 118, the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, but here’s the punchline that Matthew put on the end of this.
He says, verse 43, Matthew 21:43:
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
Now that sounds like one of those riddles, doesn’t it? But let’s think about this for a minute. You remember the context here, the stone is the stone spoken of in the quote from Psalm 118, the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, or in some translations it’s the cornerstone.
It is the most important stone in the building, okay? And the builders rejected it as not being fit. However, later on it is discovered to be so important that they make it the capstone for the building. All right. That stone is the one He’s talking about, and we’re going to read Psalm 118 and we’ll get more of that. That stone is the one He’s talking about, and He says in verse 44:
He who falls on this stone will be broken
Now, what does that mean? You should know this because this happened to you. Yes, when you’re born again you’re broken in spirit, right? Okay. And how do we get born again? We fall on the Lord, right? Okay, we come to Him, we fall on our knees at the foot of the cross, we’re falling on the Lord there. And we are broken, okay? So that’s a good thing, right? But the next part:
He on whom it falls will be crushed.”
That’s not so good, is it? So those are your choices, you fall on the stone and be broken, or the stone will fall on you and crush you, okay? And that’s the whole story of the world. There are two kinds of people in the world today, there are people who have fallen on the stone and been broken, and there are people on whom the stone is going to fall and they’ll be crushed.
And that’s the name of the game, those are the two choices that the world has today. No one escapes, there’s no third opportunity there, no door number three. You fall on the stone, you’re broken, you inherited eternal life. You refuse, the stone will fall on you and crush you and you will suffer for eternity.
All right. So that’s kind of what I wanted you to see there. Now let’s go to Psalm 118, because there are—it must have been an important Psalm because the Lord quoted it several times here. In the first place, we talked about this last time didn’t we, on the first Psalm Sunday? And what did they sing?
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
That comes from Psalm 118, and now He’s quoting the capstone thing from Psalm 118 as well. And so there’s two. We’re going to show you, we’ll look at one more. Okay, so I’ve already explained to you that the stone He’s talking about here is Himself, it’s the Messiah rejected by the people, but it has become the most important. It’s the foundation of our faith, if you want to keep it in the builder’s terminology there.
Okay Psalm 118:22:
The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad in it.
I’ll talk to you a little bit about that. Then you skip down to 25:
Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
This is the part of the Psalm that they sang on Psalm Sunday when He came riding into town, and so there’s those two. Now let me tell you about verse 24, this is the day the Lord has made. This is a tradition, you won’t find this in Scripture, but I want you to hear it anyway.
At the end of the Last Supper, we’re going to look at this next time (or the time after) at the end of the Lord’s Supper, it says that after they finished they sang a hymn and then they went out into the Garden, right? Tradition says that the hymn they sang was based on verse 24, it’s a song that we have sung in our churches:
This is the day that the Lord has made,
Let us rejoice and be glad in it
Okay, you’re familiar with it, I can tell. Tradition says this is the one they sang on the night after the Last Supper, just before the Lord was arrested.
Now understand this, in the Hebrew calendar, the day begins at sunset. So after they had their dinner, it was already Passover because it was after sunset. Passover had begun, and they had their dinner immediately as the sun set on the 14th when the Passover began.
Now in the Lord’s time, there were two so-called Passover dinners. There was the ceremonial dinner that replicated the dinner when the first Passover occurred. You remember they kept the lambs until the end of the 13th and then it says, “Kill the lamb, roast it, put the blood on the doorpost.” And then that evening they were supposed to eat it, and there wasn’t supposed to be any left until morning. And so, the real Passover dinner was right after sunset, right at the beginning of Passover.
Later on, the Lord said the next day is the 15th, and He said, “I want you to make the 15th the holy assembly, a sacred day. It will be a day on which no work is permitted, and it will begin the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread.”
And so the Unleavened Bread began on the 15th of the month, it was the day after Passover. In the Lord’s time, they instituted a great feast on this day, and that great feast is the one that we think of when we think of Passover dinner, because it happened on the afternoon of the 15th. It’s really the first day of Unleavened Bread and they didn’t actually have this feast until they got into the Promised Land, and so it became a tradition on the 15th.
And that’s the Passover dinner when we think of it. If you think of going to a Passover dinner, you know if your church holds one, or if you know friends who have them and things like that, they are usually celebrating what’s called the Passover Seder which is the big feast on the 15th where you have the roast lamb and all the fixings and it’s a three or four hour meal and you go through all the verses that commemorate the Passover.
That actually happened on the next day. In the Lord’s time the two had kind of melded together and you’ll find it in the Gospels talk about the Passover being the next day and the day the Lord crucified being Preparation Day. And actually it was the 14th, which is not a day where work is prohibited, it’s when they prepared everything for the next day, the 15th, where it was prohibited to work.
So here they had this great feast coming up on the 15th, but they’re not allowed to do any work in preparing for it, so they had to prepare it the day before and then they put it out. Confusing, yes? And that’s why some people get confused about when the Lord was crucified, because they think He was crucified on Friday, which was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He couldn’t have been, because the law forbade that in the first place, and second place it was too late because Passover was the previous day.
Now, if I haven’t got you totally confused now, read the article that says “Solving the Three Day Three Night Mystery” and it’ll clear it up for you, because this is something that some people have to study for years before it becomes clear to them because of the confusion and the confusion in the way it’s stated in the Gospels.
But having spent a number of years now (almost 20) studying this, the Gospels are clear. Every one of them places the Lord’s death on the original Passover day, the 14th of their month. It was a Thursday on the year that the Lord was crucified. It changes every year because, like Christmas falls on different days every year because it’s always on the 25th day, Passover is always on the 14th day, and so it changes from year to year as to what day it’s on. But in the year the Lord was crucified, Passover was on a Thursday. And He was put on the cross in the morning on Thursday.
But you remember, the day had started the previous evening, right? Because that’s when their day starts. And so the Lord ate the Passover dinner, the ceremonial Passover meal with His disciples, on Passover right after sunset. Just like the very first Jews had done, and you can read about that in Exodus 12 where it outlines exactly how it’s supposed to happen.
So they ate the meal called the Last Supper, and then they had this time of fellowship together which John in his Gospel takes three chapters describing. And then it says after that they went out and sang a hymn, and then they went to the Garden of Gethsemane and of course from there on we know the Lord was arrested.
He endured six trials that night, at sunrise He was taken before Pilate, He was condemned to death, He was put on the cross, and He was on the cross from 9:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon when He died, He was taken down and buried before sunset.
Because, remember the Jews came to Pilate and said, “Look we got to get Him off the cross by sunset because we got a holiday coming.” They were talking about the special Sabbath, as John called it, the first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread. So on this 24-hour period here, the Lord is going to be arrested, He’s going to be interrogated, He’s going to endure six trials—all of them illegal, by the way, every single one of them illegal according to Jewish law.
He’s going to be locked up for the night, in the morning they’re going to come and get Him and take Him to Pilate at sunrise, He’s going to go through another ordeal, He’s going to be flogged and beaten within an inch of His life, He’s going to be paraded through the streets of the city, He’s going to be taken up to the hill Golgotha, put on the cross, He’s going to be crucified until He is dead, and He is going to be buried before sunset. It’s all going to happen in one 24-hour period, one day, okay? On one day that’s going to happen.
Now, you and I, we might get up one morning and see it’s a beautiful sunny day. And we might think of thanking the Lord for the beautiful day, and we might say something like:
This is the day that the Lord has made,
Let us rejoice and be glad in it
I know I’ve done that when I’ve seen a beautiful morning and it’s just felt great and I’ve remembered that verse, and I’ve repeated it. Sometimes, and you may have done this too, sometimes we’ll get up and it’ll be a cloudy and rainy and miserable day, but we don’t want it to dampen our spirits because maybe we’ve decided we want to have a good day that day, and so we may say something like:
This is the day that the Lord has made,
I’ll rejoice and be glad in it anyway
Okay? But, here’s the Lord. He’s about to be arrested, beaten within an inch of His life, endure all the humiliation that went along with it, He’s going to be nailed to the cross, and He’s going to die and be buried, all in this one day. And He sings:
This is the day that the Lord has made,
Let us rejoice and be glad in it
How could this be? Because you see, this is the day that was ordained in history when He would get you. Because on this day He is going to shed His blood, and pay the price that’s required for His bride. See, the shed blood is the price He had to pay for you. And He’s going to do it on this day, the day the Lord has made. And He is singing, Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Turn to Hebrews with me for just a second. Hebrews 12:2:
Let us fix on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Now listen to this next phrase:
Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. How can you put those two things in one sentence? How can you have joy and the cross in the same sentence? Because He was looking past the action and being focused on the result. Looking past the action, being focused on the result. He was willing to go to the cross and endure that, the most painful death ever devised for man, because the result was He would get you.
That’s something for you to think about. And you ought to wonder, what did I ever do to deserve something like that? It’s a good question, I don’t think it can be answered. But it sure gives us something to think about, doesn’t it?
See, I told you this whole chapter is going to be full of these things, and that’s the first one.
Back to Mark 12:12:
Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.
Well, you know they found a way to arrest Him, didn’t they? And a couple days after this event took place that is going to happen.
And so the Parable of the Tenants is the Lord speaking to the Jewish people, how He had given them this land, He had made it fruitful, He had turned it over to them to nurture and to produce fruit, and then He had gone away and when he came back to collect what was due Him, they mistreated Him.
They mistreated His servants, they mistreated His own son. And so at that point, the truth of the matter was seen, they hadn’t recognized who it was that they were dealing with and it turned out badly for everyone—except that God is the original guy who turns lemons into lemonade, isn’t He? And He made that most awful day into the greatest victory ever achieved on the face of the planet because on that one day in that one act, He redeemed all that Adam had lost, saved His progeny, saved the creation, and made possible the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
Let’s go now to verse 13:
He’s talking about the officials here now, remember they’re inspecting Him, they’re trying to trip Him up, they’re trying to find some way to catch Him in some untruth.
Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
If that’s not a setup, I don’t know what is. In the first place, the Romans came in and actually at the request of the Jewish leadership, to help them chase Antiochus Epiphanes and his Syrians away. And the Romans had done that and then they sort of never went home, they kind of took over, and the Scriptures say they imposed a tribute which is a way of saying pay tax. That was an unpopular thing for them to do, and many of them refused to pay it, and it was a big controversy in the day. Should we pay this or shouldn’t we?
You might compare that, by the way, to what’s going on in the news now, where people are starting to wonder about this bailout program, “Should we pay for this, or shouldn’t we?” I mean, is it right to do that or not? Especially with the things we’re hearing about the way certain things are not going correctly.
Jesus says, this is the last half of verse 13:
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”
It was a coin.
They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed.
They thought they had Him! And of course what He’s saying there is if the government taxes you and you’re obligated to pay, pay your taxes; don’t try to cheat, pay your taxes. And by the way, you should also give to God what is due to Him, you shouldn’t cheat either one of them. You shouldn’t regard Cesar more highly than God, and pay Cesar but fail to give to God what is due to Him. You should do both.
And, in fact, if you want the King Jack version here, it says:
If you give to God what is God’s, He’ll make sure you have enough to pay your taxes.
Okay? And so you can write that in if you want to! [laughs]
Okay verse 18:
Then the Sadducees,
They’re sending everybody in here.
Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother.
This, by the way, is called the law of levirate marriage. Let’s go look at this and you will understand what it is if we go back and look at the original principle.
It’s Deuteronomy 25:5 and 6. Verse 5:
If brothers are living together
That means in the same community.
And one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.
Now, you go back to the Book of Joshua, and you find that when they came into the land, the land was portioned to them by tribe, by clan, and then by family, so that each family had a piece of ground that was theirs in perpetuity. It was to be—remember we read that they couldn’t sell it, they couldn’t give it away, it was to stay in their family forever and it was to be passed down from father to son through the inheritance. The firstborn son would have the right of inheritance.
Now, in the case where a man died before he and his wife could have a son, and so there’s nobody to pass the land to, his brother was to go to the wife and get her pregnant so that she could have a son and the son would be the dead man’s heir, do you see how that worked? That’s the way it was supposed to be.
So it was called the law of levirate marriage. Now you can read in, if you go into this a little bit, the surviving brother was supposed to, but he could refuse. It was a shameful thing if he did, and his whole family would have a negative memory of him if he refused, but he could refuse if he so chose.
In fact, when Boaz wanted to marry Ruth in the Book of Ruth, there was a closer brother who had the first right to marry Ruth, and Boaz had to get that guy to step aside before he could marry her. And so it was an application of the law of levirate marriage and the older brother, Boaz’s older brother, stepped aside because his rationale was he didn’t want to endanger his own inheritance; he stepped aside and this made Boaz who was next in line free, if you will, to marry Ruth and they got married and on and on it goes.
And so it was an obligation but it was not mandatory, if you understand what that means. But that was the law of levirate marriage, and this kept the land in the family.
Now, there was one other loophole, if that didn’t work there was one other loophole. If the man, when he died, had daughters but no sons, the land could be passed to the daughter providing she married somebody from within the same tribe, effectively a cousin. And so, if the man had a daughter and no sons, the daughter could inherit as long as she married within the same tribe.
Now, that’s at the very end of the Book of Numbers. Zelophehad’s daughters, they came to Moses and Moses went to the Lord and they made this provision that a daughter could inherit as long as there were no sons in the family, but she had to marry somebody from within the same tribe.
Now, why are these things so important? It was to keep the land in the family, it was to keep the name alive, but you know, what it turned out is that our Lord’s claim to the Throne of David rests on that issue. His legal claim to the Throne of David rests on the issue that Mary’s father had no brothers.
She could only inherit the land if she married a cousin, and that’s why you see in the genealogies that Mary and Joseph are both from the tribe of Judah, they’re cousins. Many many many times removed, their genealogy goes all the way back to King Solomon. And King Solomon—Mary is a descendant of Solomon’s brother Nathan, and Joseph was a descendant of Solomon.
So Joseph actually had a claim to the Throne of David; he was in the royal line and was a prince in Egypt many times out of office, you know there was no such thing in Joseph’s day, but had there been he would have been one of those who had a claim to the throne.
The problem is, that God had cursed that line just before the Babylonian captivity and said no member of line would ever serve as a King of Israel again.
And so the king has to come from the tribe of Judah, from the family of Solomon, but the line has been cursed, there can’t be a king. Are they stuck? Is God’s promise broken? Because God had the Angel Gabriel promise Mary that her son would sit on David’s Throne.
Mary, being a cousin of Joseph’s, was also from the tribe of Judah, also from the house of David. When Joseph married Mary, he became the legal father of Jesus. Not the blood father, not the biological father we’d say today, but the legal father, and therefore gave Jesus a claim to the Throne of David; the only man in the last 2,600 years who could legally occupy the Throne of David.
And so, these little things that we’re seeing here become extremely important in the theological sense. Now, that’s another confusing one, and if you need more information about it, you can read an article called “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” and it will explain all that in detail, and give you all the Biblical references for it. But it turns out that the Lord Jesus not only is the son of God He’s also the son of David, right? He’s called that in the Scriptures, the son of David, we’re going to see that in a few minutes. And therefore has been promised David’s throne, but the virgin birth was necessary to avoid the curse.
And so, when Mary gave birth to Jesus there was no Earthly father to inherit the curse; when she married Joseph Jesus got a legal father who was in line for the throne but had the curse. But since Jesus is not a biological son of Joseph’s, the curse didn’t come into His bloodline and He therefore is the only one with the claim to the throne.
All right, and you can read that. That’s why you read the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and in Luke, they’re different. And the difference comes in at Solomon, because Joseph’s line comes down through Solomon, Mary’s line comes down through Nathan.
All right. Now we’re seeing this in Mark 12, we’re seeing this as a riddle that’s being posed to Jesus. Watch how it goes, verse 19:
Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children,
Note that: No children.
The man must marry the widow and have children for his brother.
Okay? That’s the levirate marriage we just described from Deuteronomy 25.
Verse 20 now:
There were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too.
I can imagine after seven husbands! [laughing] Okay. So, that’s the riddle they’re showing Him: Seven husbands, no children from any of them, but she’s married to all of them, one at a time.
Now verse 23:
At the resurrection
Remember they don’t believe in a resurrection, and so that’s how you know this is a trick question.
At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
Listen to this, verse 25:
When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage;
In other words, when we get into the Kingdom, marriage is no longer between us; we’re all married to Jesus. And there’s no more marriage between a man and a woman. We’ll know each other, we’ll be together, we’ll all be friends, but there’s no marriage in the kingdom.
Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the bush,
He’s talking about the burning bush when God came to Moses and recruited him to go down to Egypt and get the people.
How God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”
You see, His point is this, if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were dead, He would have to have said, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac,” But by saying, “I am the God,” He’s implying that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive! And then He says, He’s not the God of the dead, but of the living.
And so His point was, in the marriage on Earth it’s ‘til death do us part. When we get into the Kingdom at the Resurrection, those obligations are canceled, because now we’re the Bride of Christ. But, we’re still alive, right? Even though the marriage vow only goes to death, when we get to the Kingdom, we’re still alive. And so it’s an institution for Earth, is really what it comes down to, not an institution for the Kingdom of God.
Now, Jesus gave all of His answers here to the Sadducees from what’s called the Torah. The first five books of the Bible, the Books of Moses. And He did that because that’s the only part of the Old Testament the Sadducees accepted. They did not accept the historical books, they did not accept the Psalms, they did not accept the prophecies, they only believed in the Books of Moses.
And so, He answered them from that part of the Bible that they believed in, so that there wouldn’t be any problem with you know, if you go up to somebody from some other religion and you ask them a question and he answers you out of his book, you say, “Well, I don’t believe in that book so that answer is no good.” They couldn’t do this to Him because He answered them from the part of the book they said they believed in.
All right, we’ll keep going here. Verse 28:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘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.
So that’s the most important commandment, and He says:
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
So He puts the two together.
It turns out that this one that says: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one, is from Deuteronomy 6:4 and 5, that is felt by the Jews to be the preeminent commandment, and this is why they had trouble with Jesus, by the way, because He was claiming to be God and then their reaction was, “Gee, if You are then there must be two.”
But the commandment says there’s only one. They couldn’t get the concept, many people can’t today, the concept that the Father and the Son were one. And the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit together are one, they are three but they are also one. It’s a very difficult concept to understand and the Bible never really explains it, it just assumes it and it doesn’t say, understand it, it just says, believe it.
Okay, we believe lots of things we don’t understand. We don’t understand electricity but we believe it, we don’t understand how an internal combustion engine works but we go out and start our cars and drive home, and so we believe lots of things that we don’t understand and the Bible says the Trinity is one of those things we believe.
It’s essential, it’s foundational to our belief because the Father is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, they are three they have three distinct roles, if you will.
Three distinct personalities but they are one. And they say they are one, and so we’re supposed to believe that. But when the Lord said, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Is the most important commandment—it’s not one of the commandments, by the way! It’s not one of the ten because the first commandment says, You shall have no other Gods before Me.
This is Deuteronomy 6, let’s go back and look at it. Deuteronomy 6:4 and 5, is an admonition that was given to the Jews but it’s not one of the ten commandments.
The ten commandments are Exodus 20, you can read them there. And we’re going to Deuteronomy 6 and see what the Lord says about this. It’s under the heading, in my Bible, of “Love the Lord your God” which is the first commandment.
And it says in verse 3:
Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you.
And in verse 4 it says:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
And that’s what Jesus was quoting. Now it turns out the first four commandments relate to that statement. And what do the first four commandments say? Anybody tick them off from memory? Or do you want to go and look at them in Exodus 20? Oh let’s go look at them. We know them, but just to avoid showing off let’s go look at them. In Exodus 20.
And you’ll see the first four commandments of Exodus 20, the first commandment is:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
The second one is—or this is part of the first one still.
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,
Now, a lot of people misinterpret this, by the way, because they say no pictures. And if you take this literally, it would mean no pictures of anything. It would mean you can’t take a picture of anything, that would be a violation of the commandment. You can’t make an artist render, you can’t take a photograph, you can’t take a recording, you can’t take a video. And you see the people who say this have misunderstood. What it says is, you can’t make an image and worship it. Okay? So you can take a picture of your newborn baby, you just can’t put it up in a shrine and bow down before it and pray to it. That’s where you get in trouble.
Okay, and then it says:
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,
Or in the original, Take His name in vain.
And it says in verse 8:
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
So you’ve got: No other Gods, don’t worship any idols, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, and remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Those are the first four, they all have to do with that one statement He made, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one, and you should love Him with all your heart and soul and mind. The last six commandments have to do with the second one He said which was, Love your neighbor as yourself.
And when you get into Exodus 20 the last six have to do with relationships between humans. Honoring your father and mother, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t give false testimony, and don’t covet. And so the first four are summarized by, Love the Lord with all your heart and soul. The last six are summarized by, Love your neighbor as yourself.
In Matthew’s version of this, the Lord has Matthew, because he was writing to the Jewish people, say, “All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” In other words, He says, all of your Scriptures are a commentary on these two commandments.
Now in Deuteronomy 6:4 and 5 became so important to the Jewish people that they—He says, “Write it on your foreheads and on your doorposts.” The Mezuzah you see on a Jewish doorpost, inside it rolled up is a little tiny scroll of Deuteronomy 6.
When He says, “Put it on your foreheads,” If you’ve ever seen an Orthodox Jew in his prayer rig when he has phylacteries, what’s called phylacteries, there’s a little leather pouch that they strap to their forehead. Inside the pouch, Deuteronomy 6. They tie another one to their right hand, inside the pouch on the right hand, Deuteronomy 6.
He says, “Talk about it when you’re walking along the road, when you first get up in the morning, when you go to sleep at night, teach your children.” This was to be the important thing; even to this day every single synagogue service in every single synagogue starts with Deuteronomy 6-4 and 5:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
It’s called the “Shema” in Jewish because the word Shema is the Hebrew word for hear. And in Hebrew the verse goes:
Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
I can sing it but I can’t always say the words, so I had to stop and sing it to myself to remember the words.
Shema Yisrael, (Here, O Israel,)
Adonai Elonheinu, (The Lord your God,) Adonai means Lord; Elonheinu is your God.
Adonai Echad, (The Lord is one,) Echad is Hebrew for one.
And that statement begins every single service in every single synagogue in the world, even to this day.
All right, back to Mark. In verse 32 he says:
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Now it’s the Lord’s turn to be impressed!
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Now, this then is the end of the Lord’s inspection. He has answered all their questions; He has amazed them by stepping into and out of their traps, and they couldn’t think of anything else to ask Him. And so, in a sense, they found Him to be without spot or blemish.
Now, in Matthew’s version of this, and in Luke’s version, the very next item is included but Mark has it below the part where they don’t dare ask them anymore questions, primarily because the fact that they’re not asking Him this next question, He’s got one for them now! And this one is so amazing to them that when He answers it, Matthew and Luke both say, “From then on, nobody dared ask Him any questions.”
Okay and here it is, in verse 35:
While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? When David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’
David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”
The large crowd listened to him with delight.
And this is where Matthew and Luke both say, “The people were amazed and no one dared to ask Him anymore.”
You don’t see it here in the Greek, because the New Testament was first written in Greek, but if we go to Psalm 110 you will see this quote in Hebrew and you’ll see the difference. And this is what amazed everybody.
Psalm 110 which is what this quote is, and we look at it in the first verse of Psalm 110 and I want to see if your Bibles read like mine do here.
Psalm 110:1 and it says exactly:
The LORD says to my lord:
Right? Now what do you notice about that? The first “LORD” is all caps, the second “Lord” is not. All right, now whenever in the Old Testament, whenever the translation of “LORD” is all in capital letters, that means the word “LORD” is not what the Hebrew says. That means that the Hebrew had the four initials of God’s name called, the tetragrammaton which means, four initials. [laughs]
The first “LORD” is really an interpretation of the four initials of God’s name. See, God’s name is never written anywhere; it was against the law to write it, and so it was never written down. In the Hebrew, when they wanted to show you that it was God’s name, they used His four initials.
In some translations it’s JHVH. In other translations it’s YHWY, it’s the same because J and Y are the same, and V and W are the same in Hebrew, so it’s either way.
But you know the four initials as Jehovah in the King James, or Yahweh in some of the more modern translations. Neither one of them is correct, by the way.
When the King James translators got to these four initials they took the—because Hebrew has no vowels in it, see—and so they took the vowels from “Elohim” which is a name which means God, and “Adonai” which is a Hebrew word which means Lord, and they took the vowels, the E and the A, and the O out of those words and stuck them between the J and the H and the V and the H, and they came up with Jehovah. It’s a name that the King James translators invented! It’s not the name of God, it’s just a way to pronounce the four initials.
Later on, when the more modern translations took the YHWH and called it Yahweh, they were doing the same thing. They were taking the vowels out of “Elohim” and “Adonai” and sticking them between the four letters and they were coming up with that. But that’s not God’s name, neither one of those is the name of God.
No one on Earth today knows the name of God. It has not been spoken for over 1,300 years and it has been forgotten. There is no one alive on Earth today who can speak God’s name.
In ancient times, it was only permitted to be spoken once a year, seven times on the day of Yom Kippur. Other than that, to speak His name was to die.
After the temple was destroyed, there was no more Yom Kippur service, that ritual changed, and no longer was the name of God spoken. And in about 300 years, no one could remember it. It had been lost. It was never written in the literature, it was never spoken orally. It had been lost.
And so today, there is no one on Earth who can tell you the name of God, and people who say they can are misled.
Okay but the deal here is—that’s a sidebar—the deal here is the first “LORD” in Psalm 110 is the name of God the Father, and the second “Lord” is the name of His Son, Adonai. And so the Lord’s point was, here’s David He says, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, He says, “The LORD said to my Lord.”
Now if the second “Lord” is David’s Lord, how can he be David’s son? Because you don’t call your son Lord, you call your father Lord, okay? And so that was His point.
He says, “How can this be? If David called Him Lord, how could He be his son?” And it’s at that point that Matthew and Luke say, “Nobody dared ask Him anymore questions.”
And that’s where all that came from. But what Jesus is saying here is, “This is a conversation that David recorded between the Father and the Son. And you call the Messiah the Son of David, and in a sense you’re correct because he is a descendant.”
His humanity is a descendant of David’s, we just went through that with Joseph and Mary. However, David doesn’t think of Him as his son, he thinks of Him as his Lord. He is a son, but He is the Son of God, in other words.
And I can imagine one reason why they didn’t want to ask Him anymore questions on that issue, because they were afraid what the answer might be!
All right, so we’re back in Mark 12 now.
As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. But they devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”
What He meant by “devouring widows’ homes,” it was prohibited (I think it should still be prohibited, by the way, that’s just my opinion) it was prohibited in the culture for teachers to accept payment for teaching the Bible, Scripture. It was prohibited.
And the second thing you need to remember is that when a woman’s husband died, quite often she came under the wing of the priests who were part of the Levitical priesthood who lived in the community, they sort of became spiritual heads, if you will, of these women’s families. And in many cases they would occupy at least part of their time teaching them about the Scriptures.
To get around the law that prevented them from being paid for doing this, they got the women—some of them, not all of them, this wasn’t a totally common practice—some of them got the women to agree that whatever inheritance they would receive from their husbands would go to the temple upon their deaths, and that would serve as the payment for them teaching the Scriptures. And so, it was kind of a loophole that they developed here.
And the Lord says, “I saw you doing that and you don’t fool me.” He says, “You’re being paid, you’re devouring these widows’ homes.”
Because instead of going to their offspring, the house would be inherited basically by the priesthood and would become their property. And so He says, “That’s a no-no. And I’m going to get you for that.”
All right, verse 41:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
And this is the concept of the widow’s mite.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
And the point here is, how should I phrase this—the Lord doesn’t really need our money, okay? Contrary to what you hear on television, His ministries aren’t going to shut down and go broke if we don’t give tonight. The Lord has all the money; He gives to us. And so, we don’t give to Him because He needs our money, we give to Him out of gratitude for the ways in which He has already blessed us. We don’t even give to Him in hope of future blessing, we give to Him in gratitude for blessings we have already received.
And if we give to Him with any other motive in our heart, it doesn’t do us any good. Because like I said, He doesn’t need the money, but we need to express our gratitude.
By putting in all she had, the Lord said this woman was giving more than all the wealthy people had previously given, because she was expressing her gratitude with everything she had, whereas they were only giving excess. She was giving up her substance. She, rather than they, was expressing the gratitude and had the right attitude about giving, and that’s what earned her the Lord’s favor.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t do right by the Lord unless you give Him everything you have. Although, we’re told to do that, you know we’re told in Romans 12 we’re told to offer our entire lives as living sacrifices to Him.
What money He gives us is ours to use and we’re supposed to use it by blessing others. You remember in 1 Corinthians Paul said “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.”
Most people like the “be made rich” part, but they don’t understand that the purpose—if the Lord gives you wealth, the purpose is so that you can be generous with others. And in fact, the more generous you are with others the more wealth He tends to give!
But most people want the wealth for themselves. And He says, “No, we don’t work that way here.” He says, “I’m not going to fund all your little toys and all your habits and all your wonderful houses and your big cars, I’m not going to fund that. That’s not the point. I give so that you can express My love to others by passing it along.”
In other words, if you think of money as a stream, we’re supposed to be a channel so that the money flows through us; we’re supposed to be a channel. Now the channel never worries about having the money flow through it because there’s an endless supply coming. It comes in as fast as it goes out. The channel is only funneling in or directing it, the river never runs dry.
The channel never worries about sending too much water downstream because there’s more water coming constantly, and that’s the way we’re supposed to see this. We’re supposed to be a channel for the Lord’s wealth rather than to accumulate wealth for ourselves.
But most people don’t think of themselves as a channel, they think of themselves as a cistern. A cistern stores up water, right? And so the more that comes in the more we store up.
But that’s not the Lord’s idea. And this woman, by giving all she had, she first of all showed an incredible amount of gratitude, but secondly she showed faith that the Lord would replenish.
And that’s exactly what He does. And that’s why Paul could say, “You’ll be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.”
And the way I read that is, you want to be rich? Start being generous. Because waiting until you’re rich before you’re generous is like a man who says to his stove, “Give me some heat and then I’ll throw some wood in.”It doesn’t work that way, the generosity has to precede, doesn’t it? Because that shows the attitude. This woman showed her generosity by giving away everything she had, she had faith in the Lord would replenish.
Now that takes a lot of faith, because when you don’t have much, which was her case, it’s hard to give it away. It was harder to give away the little bit that she had than it was for the wealthy to give the whole lot that they had.
Do you know in those days the wealthy used to hire brass bands, trumpets to come with them to the temple? And when they walked, the temple treasury, the box was there in the courtyard and it went down through the floor and into a vault below, and so you were literally dropping your money into a vault below. And down there they had people that counted it and did things with it. So it was a public place on the temple mount.
And some of the wealthy people would come and they would have a retinue with them, and they would have these trumpeters and the trumpeters would sound the trumpet, which of course gets everyone’s attention. And then the wealthy person, when he had everybody’s attention, he’d drop this big bag of stuff down in the thing and it would go conk! When it hit the bottom and everybody would go, “Ooo look how much he gave!” And the trumpeters would be paid and they’d go home, and the man would go home thinking: Wow that was great! Look how they thought about me, look how they envied me, look how great I am.
And that’s actually the way some people did it. Today we have our names put on buildings instead when we give things, right? [laughs] But in those days that’s how they did it because they didn’t build buildings that way.
But this woman gave quietly everything she had, and she came creeping up after the rich had already gone, she came creeping up and, almost embarrassed, dropped her couple little pennies down in there and they hardly made a noise when they went down the chute.
And Jesus said, “There’s a giver. There’s somebody after My own heart.” There’s someone who has demonstrated both her gratitude and her faith, and she has out-given all of them. So think about that.
All right, that brings us to the end of chapter 12 just like I promised, and that will be the end of our study tonight, so in just a second I will turn off the recording and I’ll answer any questions that you have. But next week, next time, we will begin the study of the End Times as Peter wrote it, in this 13th chapter of the Book of Mark; Peter’s version of the Olivet Discourse. Let’s have a closing prayer and then we’ll be finished for tonight.