Mark 11: 1-12:44 When Your Priorities are Challenged

MARK 11:1-12:44 , 2/ 7/2010

In this chapter, we have , The parable of the vineyard let out to unthankful husband men, representing the sin and ruin of the Jewish church . Christ’s silencing those who thought to ensnare him with a question about paying tribute Caesar . His silencing the Sadducees, who attempted to perplex the doctrine of the resurrection. His conference with a scribe about the first and great command of the law. His puzzling the scribes with a question about Christ’s being the Son of David .The caution he gave the people, to take heed of the scribes. His commendation of the poor widow that cast her two mites into the treasury .

Now what effect had this parable upon the chief priests and scribes, whose conviction was designed by it? They knew he spoke this parable against them. They could not but see their own faces in the glass of it; and one would think it showed them their sin so very heinous, and their ruin so certain and great, that it should have frightened them into a compliance with Christ and his gospel, should have prevailed to bring them to repentance, at least to make them desist from their malicious purpose against him: but, instead of that . They sought to lay hold on him, and make him their prisoner immediately, and so to fulfil what he had just now said they would do to him, Nothing restrained them from it but the awe they stood in of the people; they did not reverence Christ, nor had an fear of God before their eyes, but were afraid, if they should publicly lay hold on Christ, the mob would rise, and lay hold on them, and rescue them. They left him, and went their way; if they could not do hurt to him, they resolved he should not do good to them, and therefore they got out of the hearing of his powerful preaching, lest they should be converted and healed. Note, If men’s prejudices be not conquered by the evidence of truth, they are but confirmed; and if the corruptions of the heart be not subdued by faithful reproofs, they are but enraged and exasperated. If the gospel be not a savour of life unto life, it will be a savour of death unto death.

1. Question About Tribute. (Mark 12:13-17)

(Mark 12:13 ) They sent some Pharisees and followers of Herod to bait him, hoping to catch him saying something incriminating. 14They came up and said, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, that you are indifferent to public opinion, don’t pander to your students, and teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 15He knew it was a trick question, and said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” 16They handed him one. “This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?” “Caesar,” they said. 17Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.” Their mouths hung open, speechless.

The enemies of Christ would be thought desirous to know their duty, when really they hoped that which soever side he took of the question, they might find occasion to accuse him. Nothing is more likely to insnare the followers of Christ, than bringing them to meddle with disputes about worldly politics. Jesus avoided the snare, by referring to the submission they had already made as a nation; and all that heard him, marvelled at the great wisdom of his answer. Many will praise the words of a sermon, who will not be commanded by the doctrines of it.

2. The Great Command of the Law. (Mark 12: 28-34)

(Mark 12: 28 ) One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?” 29Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; 30so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ 31And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” 32The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. 33And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!” 34When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.” After that, no one else dared ask a question.

Those who sincerely desire to be taught their duty, Christ will guide in judgment, and teach his way. He tells the scribe that the great commandment, which indeed includes all, is, that of loving God with all our hearts. Wherever this is the ruling principle in the soul, there is a disposition to every other duty. Loving God with all our heart, will engage us to every thing by which he will be pleased. The sacrifices only represented the atonements for men’s transgressions of the moral law; they were of no power except as they expressed repentance and faith in the promised Saviour, and as they led to moral obedience. And because we have not thus loved God and man, but the very reverse, therefore we are condemned sinners; we need repentance, and we need mercy. Christ approved what the scribe said, and encouraged him. He stood fair for further advance; for this knowledge of the law leads to conviction of sin, to repentance, to discovery of our need of mercy, and understanding the way of justification by Christ.


The scribes and Pharisees were (however bad otherwise) enemies to the Sadducees; now one would have expected that, when they heard Christ argue so well against the Sadducees, they would have countenanced him, as they did Paul when he appeared against the Sadducees (Acts 23:9); but it had not the effect: because he did not fall in with them in the ceremonials of religion, he agreeing with them in the essentials, gained him no manner of respect with them. Only we have here an account of one of them, a scribe, who had so much civility in him as to take notice of Christ’s answer to the Sadducees, and to own that he had answered well, and much to the purpose ; and we have reason to hope that he did not join with the other scribes in persecuting Christ; for here we have his application to Christ for instruction, and it was such as became him; not tempting Christ, but desiring to improve his acquaintance with him.

Bob O’Haver


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