Mark 12, as we get ready to get into this, we’re going to start in the end of 11, let me tell you why. If you’re new to studying scripture, you are wondering how the Bible fits together. Great, this is good because I’m going to show in context how all of Mark 12 shapes itself and it starts in Mark 11. You should know when you started the Bible, your chapter divisions and verse references are not inspired of God. We believe the text of scripture is inspired of God. We’re going to talk about the inspiration of scripture when we get to Mark 16, like how do you know you can trust the Bible.
Your chapter divisions and verse divisions are not inspired of God. Some people came later and they’re like, you know what, when we gather together it might be good to put a chapter division in there so people know where we’re going to talk. So in the 12th century they had a chapter divisions. In the 16th century, they added verse divisions. So that gave it a reference. So when I said to you this morning, turn to Mark chapter 12 you know exactly where to go. Street address. You’re right there. You can look at it.
Here’s the crazy thing, in the 16th century when they started giving verses addresses to where passages of scripture came, that was when weird religious groups started popping out of Christianity. And the reason is is because they could just take a verse and cherry pick and make it mean whatever they wanted to. There’s a, there’s a group in Canada that believes that the Bible told them that they need to run around naked and set things on fire because they found a verse in the Bible that says that. And another verse that one says naked, the other one says fire and they put them together, like this is godly. And so that’s what they do. It needs context please.
So we’re turning to a verse reference and we’re going to look at it in context. It goes from end of chapter 11 all the way to the end of chapter 12, Jesus is accomplishing something specific here through four questions. Jesus is going to answer four questions. You remember if you follow the trajectory of where this has gone, chapter 10 of Mark, Jesus is walking into Jerusalem and the disciples know what’s waiting him. In fact, it says he’s walking with boldness. He’s not even looking back. The disciples are like, you go ahead, Jesus. We’ll see how it plays out for you. We’ll just follow from the safe distance.
Then in chapter 11 Jesus rides on the back of a donkey into Jerusalem, and that is very symbolic of the identity of who Christ is. Because in the Old Testament, if you read about the people riding on donkeys, it’s those in authority, those that hold kingship positions, you’ll see them riding on the donkey, especially in the times of peace before Solomon was anointed to be King. King David had them journey through Jerusalem on the back of a donkey coming to his anointing. It was a picture of ultimately of Jesus who would be of the lineage of David who had come as King declaring himself. But when Jesus arrives into Jerusalem, he doesn’t stop in the streets. He journeys to the temple to offer himself as the Passover lamb, the ultimate lamb that would give his life.
So Jesus journeys into Jerusalem with this boldness, he offers himself as the King coming to give his life for the sheep and he himself is the ultimate lamb becoming the sacrifice for sin. And in doing that, Jesus lays down the gauntlet to the people around him, deal with it. Your decision over who Christ is is significant.
I heard someone shared this with me yesterday. It was hilarious, but when you think about the significance of what’s taking place here with Jesus. Last night, we had a fight that took place in I guess apparently to get into the fight, I didn’t look this up this was just told to me, to get a ticket to the fight it was like $3,000. That’s expensive. But apparently somebody said that they didn’t want to pay to go there, that the only reason they’d ever pay something like that is, is because Jesus is battling Satan. That’s the only fight they would ever go to see and pay that much money for it. And not even just that fight itself, it would have to be battling over their soul.
What Jesus is doing in this text is that battle. The significance of what is, by the way, thank you Eric for that story, what Jesus is doing here in the story is that battle that’s taking place for your soul. And so the significance of this passage and understanding what’s taking place is important to our lives. Jesus in this as wanting us to develop our conviction in standing in him.
So he’s presenting himself, King, Lamb, deal with it. And the religious leaders did at the convenience of themselves and the rejection of Jesus. In fact, in Mark 1:18 this is what it said, the chief priest and the scribes began seeking how to destroy him. We need to get him quiet, wipe him off this earth. For they were afraid of him.
So what happens from this point forward at the end of chapter 11 is all of the religious leaders, the prominent people in society, the big wigs, intimidating ones. They come to Christ and they pull them all together. Some of these groups don’t even get along. And they’re coming together just to bring Jesus down. And they ask Jesus four questions. The reason they ask four questions is because it’s following rabbinical law. If someone were to be approved by a rabbi, they had to answer four questions according to rabbinical law to demonstrate their authority, to be able to declare the truth that they stand on. They had to ask a legal question and have a valid answer. They had to be asked a vulgar question, ridiculing their belief. They had to be asked a question of principle and conduct and a question based on interpretation of a narrative passage in scripture.
So these religious leaders come together to really discredit Jesus. They want to destroy him, and they ask him four questions to validate his authority as a teacher in Israel. But not only that, you remember when Jesus journeyed into Jerusalem, he goes into the temple, he presents himself as a lamb. At the same time, Israel would be coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover when the people would go to the temple to present their own lamb on behalf of their family for sacrifice. And when they would take the lamb to the temple, the lamb had to be vetted. It had to be examined to make sure it was without spot or blemish. And for several days, the priests would watch over these lambs to make sure that they were able to be sacrificed because they were pure. And so Jesus is demonstrating himself as the lamb now placing himself under examination of the religious leaders to determine his worthiness to be sacrificed as the lamb without spot or blemish for your sin.
This is important. And the religious leaders fought hard to embrace anything but the truth that was right in front of them. And Jesus in their questions knew what they were doing. So he countered their questions with other questions to expose their hypocrisy and point to where they lacked in their understanding and need of Jesus.
What you see unfolding in these questions really is the genius of who Christ is. God in the flesh coming for your sins and being declared throughout all of scripture. And the first question comes up in Mark 11:28. When Jesus is asked these questions, he’s asked these questions by specific religious leaders. And understanding these specific leaders helps to better understand the question that Jesus is asking. And so in Mark 11:28 it says this, they ask Jesus the question. The priests are asking Jesus this question, by what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do these things?
Some scriptures may point out that it’s the Herodians but the Herodians have the priestly duty at this point in Israel’s history. And so they’re the ones that are over the law. And you’ll see the scribes and those over the law, also, they’re asking these questions with Jesus, but they’re asking, what authority are you doing these things, Christ. I mean, we’re the ones in charge. We’re the authority. We’re the ones that declare these things. We’re the priests? You’re not a priest. So why do you have the authority to do the things that you’re doing?
We already know their motivation. They really don’t care about the answer. Their attempt is to discredit Jesus because all they are after, according to verse 18 of the same chapter, is to destroy him. Knowing that their intentions aren’t pure, Jesus asks a second question back to them. He says, Jesus said to them, I will ask you one question and you answer me. And then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men? Answer me.
When you see Jesus in scripture, we’re going to look at this in a few weeks, but I would encourage you to maybe even do a word study this week if you’d like to. I’ll tell you, look up the word shadow in the New Testament. You look up the word shadow in the New Testament, it often refers to the certain things, practices of the Old Testament as merely just a shadow of what Jesus would ultimately fulfill in himself.
Jesus is the Sabbath. He is the place of rest. It’s not Sunday. It’s Jesus. Jesus is the temple. It’s not a building. It’s Jesus. Jesus is the law. It’s not the law itself, it’s Jesus. All of those things are simply shadows to point ultimately to Jesus. When they’re asking the authority, we already know hindsight what the answer to the question is. Everything finds us fulfillment in Jesus. But Jesus takes a step back and he asks this question, by what authority did John teach? It sort of puts the focus off of themself for a minute and he goes back to John because one, he knows what the religious leaders are thinking about John according to the crowds around them.
But two, if you remember when John started pronouncing the arrival of Jesus, it was Jesus that went to John and was baptized under the authority of John recognizing who John was. And so if they know who John’s authority is, then they’re going to know who Jesus is. Because when John baptized Jesus, it tells us the father spoken, the dove descended, the triunity of God was present declaring the authority of who Christ was. And the father said, listen to him.
So it doesn’t matter what you think about your religious law, the ultimate authority rest in Christ because the father said, listen to him. When Jesus spoke, Jesus even told the people, you have heard it said, you have heard it said. He’s teaching under the rabbinical law according to the law of the Old Testament in which they would follow. But then Jesus says, I say to you, I say to you. What Jesus is demonstrating as himself as the ultimate authority over everything.
So when he’s asks this question, Jesus takes a step back and just says, just tell me what you think about John. The response of the religious leaders, it tells us they didn’t answer the question, because they were afraid of the people. They didn’t want to answer Jesus’s question because they were more interested in what people thought of them than they were in the truth in which they should stand for. They’re showing their ultimate motivation. It’s themselves. Their interest is in themself and their interest is in their safety.
Sometimes when you stand for truth, it’ll lead you to a place of inconvenience for yourself. And that’s what Jesus continued to say to his disciples, take up your cross and follow me. Jesus in standing for the truth, it definitely wasn’t convenient to himself. He gave up his life. And so there is something in life that should transcend the preservation of who you are, and that’s the identity of truth because it shapes the very person that you are. And it’s not until an individual has identified their conviction and the depth of truth that they’re going to stand beyond something that doesn’t provide the safety that they feel so important in themself.
So when asking this question they say, Jesus, we can answer the question and it tells us why. It’s because, well, all the people love John the Baptist and the minute we make an answer, it’s kind of divide the crowd. What I’m interested in is me. Popularity. I want to play it safe. I want to play it safe because I’m more interested in what people think about me than what’s actually true. And because I’m more interested in what people think about me then what’s actually true. What I’m ultimately telling you is I’m more interested in me.
Jesus is identifying for them the thing that’s keeping them from embracing the truth of who Christ is because the truth could cost them. A conviction is important. Identified in that conviction becomes important. Parents, can I tell you how in your own household, how significant it is to stand for conviction. You asked the question, if these prominent religious leaders, if people in your community that are considered powerful, the big wigs come to you and they ask you these questions about your faith and what’s your answer?
How would you stand? Oh, you know what’s true for you is true for you. And what’s true for me is true for me. And that’s not truth. That’s relativism. No, that’s your opinion. That’s fine. People have opinions, but man, we need to ultimately at some point gravitate towards truth. I know there’s this concern in our heart like if I stand for truth, I might be rejecting them. You know, everything in life isn’t valid. People have opinions and that’s okay, but everything, it can’t be true because they contradict each other at some point. And to be honest, if you really love people, if what you believe really matters, one of the most loving things you could do is stand for it.
As a church we say this to each other, how you act is important. We say love the hell out of people. That’s what Jesus did. He met people where they were and he loved them. But he didn’t love him at the sake of truth. He stood for truth because he loved them. And shaping ourselves in that becomes important. Especially you as a parent. In your home, you might have a child that they trust in you. As you walk life with them, you can help them develop convictions. You know, one of the cool things about young people is they are very passionate. But man, when you see that passion going towards the wrong thing, it can be destructive.
We learned at our men’s retreat, guys, God made you strong. You can use that strength for things in this world that is totally destructive. And the reason you do that is because you haven’t shaped your conviction. And what’s more interesting to us than God is self. And when self becomes our motivation, we’ll seek things to our own advantage to the destruction of others. But we understand the shape yourself in conviction, you walk life in that way and you find a truth that’s worth standing for. When that energy is used in the right direction, how beautiful it is for Jesus. How beneficial it is for a community, and for you.
It doesn’t just have to happen in your family. I mean who God’s called you to be in this world period with the people you interact with. And so what that should bring us to do is as individuals is to be vulnerable enough to ask questions. Don’t take this for granted. Men, faith is not something to be halfhearted about. I understand we talk about convictions today and saying the things that I’m saying, it could be like, gulp. Just hearing these things. But I’m telling you, this is so important that it’s worth to be passionate about it. It’s worth it to be vulnerable and it’s worth asking questions. Do not be afraid of the truth. No matter what it costs. Because God shaped you to identify yourself in that.
Now, there is such a thing as a question that’s passionately pursuing truth. And there’s a question that just wants to make a mockery of things. And that’s what you’re seeing for these first three questions. And these individuals come to Jesus, religious leaders by what? Authority, by what authority? And Jesus identifies that that’s really not even their interests because they won’t even take a stand over John. Their interest really is in self. I don’t want the other people to think bad about me, Jesus.
So Jesus then gives an illustration in Mark 12. He gives a parable about a vineyard. The story starts like this and he began to speak to them in parables. A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower and rented it out to vine growers and went on a journey. That’s a nice little process, isn’t it? This guy’s like, I got some land. I want to make some money, I should use this. God gave it to me. So he builds a vineyard on here and he makes it nice, builds a wall, protects it, got a vat to to make the wine. And then he rents it out to the vine growers.
The story goes on, I don’t time to go through it all. You can read it later. It’s the first 12 verses of this chapter, but he goes on where the man goes on from that community as he gives it to these people and then rents it out and he sends servants to take from the vineyard.
The reason he’s doing this is because that’s according to Jewish law at the time. According to Jewish law, if you own land, but you’re not going to cultivate the land in order to show your possession of the land, you must send somebody back to that land to harvest some of the crops on the land. There’s no amount that you have to take it just be a small portion, but it’s a demonstration that you own the land.
Well, because the individuals on this land are interested in self, when the servants come to take the land, they kick the people out. They’re thinking if we keep him from getting stuff from the land, we’re going to own the land and it becomes all about us. What happens in the fourth year is that this individual sends his son to the land and the servants on the land, or the people the vine growers, they say, let’s kill the heir to this throne because if we kill him, there is no one to take over the land and it will become our land.
Jesus is identifying something in which he’s doing. For the first three years of this illustration, throughout the period of time, God sent prophets. The people killed, mocked them, sent them away. But now finally God’s sending his heir, his son Jesus.
Jesus quotes Leviticus chapter 19 is what he’s playing on in the story, but it says this about vineyards. This is according to Levitical law. In the fourth year, all its fruit shall be holy and offering a praise to the Lord. So when you grow a vineyard, according to Jewish law for the first four years, you can’t eat anything on the vineyard. But they would still send someone to the land to take a little bit of the produce from the land to demonstrate that they own the land, though they wouldn’t reap from that produce or eat it.
And in the fourth year that the land is grown, all that is on that land belongs to the Lord as a sacrifice of praise to him. It’s a demonstration of Jesus who was ultimately coming as the sacrifice for our sins. And in the fifth year you are to eat of its fruit. So in the fifth year you reap the harvest. And so when you read the story about the vineyard, do you see for the first three years, servants come, and finally on the fourth year is the heir to the throne.
And then Jesus asked the question, what will the owner of the vineyard do now that you’ve killed his son? This is an ultimate picture of Jesus. If the man who owns the property knows the fifth years where he’s going to have the harvest and make the money from which he has produced on this field and you stopped him from that, what do you think is going to do?
In a spiritual way if Jesus comes, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, gives his life for you and you tell him he’s not good enough, even though he’s the creator of all things, how do you think God will respond to that? It says he will come and destroy the vine growers. Give the vineyard to others. Have you not even read the scriptures? The stone which the builders rejected this became the chief cornerstone. This came about from the Lord and it is marvelous in our eyes and they were seeking to seize him. They understood exactly what he was saying.
Some people read that passage when Jesus is asked the question, by what authority Jesus? And Jesus says, well, you tell me by what authority John baptized, and they’re like, well, Jesus never asked the question. He side stepped. No. Jesus definitely answered the question. Jesus is saying in this story, he is the heir to the throne. He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords. And they see that in the story and they’re ready to seize him.
Question for you. Who is Jesus to you? Where is your conviction? What do you stand on? What other people say? What’s important to you? The things that are ultimately important for you, you make time for. Where does Jesus fit in?
Jesus is pointing to their identity of where they want to find themselves. Idolizing self and staying safe. Jesus is encouraging them to deepen their conviction. And then he’s asked this next question in verse 13.
Second question: Then they set some of the Pharisees and Herodians to him in order to trap him in a statement and they came to him and said to him, teacher, we know that you are truthful and defer to no one. For you are not partial to any but teach the way of God and truth. And is it lawful to pay a poll tax to Caesar or not? Shall we pay or shall we not pay?
Let me just tell you what they did. This is called blowing smoke, right? You might do this to your boss. Don’t do that. It’s not godly, but they’re just blowing up the situation trying to pretend like they think Jesus is something that he’s not.
But it tells us in the first verse there, their intentions are to trap him. Here’s how we know: the people asking this question are the Pharisees and the Herodians. Something interesting about these two groups. They hate each other. They hate each other. The Pharisees hate Rome. They want to be a people to themselves, they want out from under Rome’s authority and the Herodians support Herod Antipas, who is a ruler for Rome.
And yet even though they hate each other, what’s driving them together is a deeper disgust for Jesus. They ask a question about money and they don’t care about the answer. The Pharisees do not want to pay money to the government. They want to be separate from the government. But they’re like, Hey, let’s ask them a question about money. We’re going to invite the Herodians because of Jesus tells them not to give money to Rome. Then that’s gonna make the Herodians hate him. It’s gonna divide people’s opinions over Jesus and his authority is going to diminish.
So they come together and ask this question and then Jesus gives his response. But he, knowing their hypocrisy said to them, why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at, which is a day’s wages. And they brought one. And he said to them, whose likeness and inscription is this? And they said to him, Caesars. And Jesus said to them, render to Caesar the thing that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. And they were amazed.
Jesus is saying here is he is recognizing the position of Rome. The fact that they possessed coins and Caesar’s faces on that coin, and they use that currency is showing that they’re under the authority of Rome. Just like you today. If you possessed currency of the United States of America and you use that currency as if you thought it was worth something, it indicates that you’re under the authority of the United States of America as it relates finances. If that were not true, you would figure out a different way to barter.
I mean, you would go like Abraham style where they were like, how many camels you got? I got a hundred. Man, you are rich. You got a hundred camels, I’ll pay you in sheep. You would use a different kind of currency, but the truth is we all know there’s nothing backing the United States currency anymore. It’s only as valuable as the government makes it valuable. But you, in recognizing the authority that the United States government puts on it chooses to use it as an exercise of the authority of the government as based on its promises to the value that it’s worth.
That’s what Jesus is recognizing here. The image of Caesar is on that and the authority of Caesar you are under. And if the government who produces the money that says the money carries a certain amount of value, tells you to give you some of that money, give me your money, the government has authority. But that’s not ultimately where Jesus is driving.
Ravi Zacharias has a beautiful teaching on this, but he points to the statement where Jesus says rendered to God the things that are God’s. What Jesus’s ultimate next question is for people to consider is this, as you see the image of Caesar on money, render to Caesar, but the question then becomes whose image is on you? Where do you belong?
Jesus is hearkening all the way back to the beginning of Genesis when we were created. Because you’re made in God’s image. That’s where you belong. That’s where God has come. God’s come for you to find your identity, worth, value, and meaning in Him and allow that to shape your conviction. Allow that to be what you live for. Because that’s what you were created for. You’re made in the image of God.
I remember as a young guy wrestling with this, I live life for self. I did whatever I wanted and it was destructive. Using my strength for my glory. And then one day I remember I was in college and sitting there and I’m asking the questions, I’m like, man, I keep doing things for my life and temporarily I’m pleased. But in the end I feel just lost. Going to school, you’re taking just the basic classes in college, trying to figure out where you want to go. I’m like, I cannot figure out what I want to do with my life because I have no idea who I am and the ultimate reason for which I am created. Is there even a purpose to life?
And I just started asking the questions like why am I here? And then you just think like, how did this life come together? Where did everything come from? Did something come from nothing? Like you think of this world. This is a multifaceted multi-dimensional world. Time, space and matter. Not just a physical thing existing, but the time from which to exist. And the space for which it can exist in. Time, space, matter, and then spiritually. If you believe in a spiritual component, and this is a multifaceted multi-dimensional creation that exists in this world, can something really come from nothing?
And then on top of that, can something chaotically evolving, really create order? I mean, I’ve stood behind a few two year olds in my life and they even have the intellectual ability to think, but that’s a lot of chaos entering into a room. And never have I walked into a room after a two year old be like, man, look how that chaos created so much order. The chaos does not make order.
And then on top of my life I began to recognize, not only does this chaos not make order, but I attribute to my life certain amount of value and worth and morality. Why do I attribute value to my life? Where does that ultimately come from? I mean if I just evolved into existence, who am I to say I’m more valuable than a bird? Or I’m more important than a piece of dust, if we all came from the same place? There’s something divine about me.
Or the fact that we even hold the morality. How could I ever expect people hold to a universal truth in something if we all just randomly existed? Why does one person think murder is wrong in someone in another part of the country thinks the same thing? There’s a governing body of authority. There’s an intelligent designer. That’s why chaos doesn’t create order, but order creates order.
There’s an intelligent designer. That’s why I feel like I’m governed by morality is because there is someone that created with intentional purpose. That’s why I feel like I have values because I’ve been divinely designed for a specific reason in this world. Now ultimately it’ll lead you to Jesus if you follow the truth, but at least it begins in our mind, “There is a God.”
And that’s what Jesus is saying in this passage: whose image is on you? Because that will determine your life, what you’re living for. If it’s Caesar, if that image is what’s really on you live for that. But if it’s something else, you’re created for a much bigger purpose than just yourself. And so Jesus is identifying for these religious leaders the same thing.
And then it goes on further. And Jesus is asked another question. They said this, in the resurrection, let me give you this backdrop otherwise it can be confusing. Sadducees come to Jesus and ask him a question. And it’s important to recognize the Sadducees are asking the question, but this is how it goes. There’s a lady who was married and her husband died and she was remarried and her husband died and she was remarried and her husband died and she was remarried and her husband died. It happened seven times. You gotta love hypothetical questions, right?
Like suppose for a moment it was you or them. But they’re asking this hypothetical question of Jesus because hypothetical questions are wonderful. And so they asked, this lady’s married seven times and her husband dies and then they say this, verse 23, in the resurrection when they rise again, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.
I’ll tell you the Sadducees do not care about this answer. And the reason we know they do not care about this answer is because the Sadducees don’t even believe in a resurrection. The Sadducees followed the first five books of the Old Testament. It’s funny if you asked the Sadducees, do you believe in the law? You believe in the 10 commandments, they would to be like, yes. Which kind of weird for us to think about in our culture because if you walk the streets today and you ask people, how are you going to heaven? They’re like, I obey the 10 commandments. You’re like, can you even name three of them? Because I guarantee out of the three you name at least one of them, you are not fulfilling. You cannot covet, you cannot lust, you cannot steal, you cannot take God’s name in vain. You’re guilty of all of those. I’ll see you later. You’re not going to live 10 commandments, look at God and be like I accomplished my 10, now let me in. That is not even exist in scripture.
In fact, the Sadducees read the Old Testament and they saw the 10 commandments and they saw that there is no promise of any afterlife anywhere the 10 commandments were written in all of the Bible. Where we get that as people, it is just beyond me. I have no idea where that comes from. There is no promise in the Bible of living the 10 commandments and entering into eternity. Like if God asks you, why am I letting you in? Don’t be like 10 commandments. It condemns you. The law will always condemn you. The law is only there to condemn you. To say that the 10 commandments are what you need to follow to get into heaven is just contrary to the Bible. God is going to look at you to be like, did you even read it? Did you even read it? It’s like it doesn’t make any sense.
So the Sadducees are asking this question because they don’t even believe in a resurrection. They believe in the 10 commandments, but they don’t even believe in a resurrection. And so they’re just trying to corner Jesus. Jesus answers the question for them. But then he also drives to their ultimate question that we’re missing.
I’ll tell you as people, we can do this, sometimes we make big deals out of the small deals and we ignore the things that are most important. We die on hills that maybe for a little while might be significant, but we act like that’s the paramount thing to life. And then we don’t ask the most important questions about life. Like as people sometimes I find like in academic circles, we’re really good at answering “whats.” This is what I’m supposed to do and we just drone on. And then we never asked the ultimate question, why? Philosophically, why do you feel like that’s even significant to do? Oh no, we can’t think critically. We’re not challenged in that way in our academic circles. Here’s your default: science. Let’s just think critically for a minute.
And Jesus is talking to these individuals, and they’re making the issue over a secondary thought. But Jesus drives it home to the primary thing. And here’s what it says. Verse 24, Jesus said them, is this not the reason you are mistaken? That you don’t understand the scriptures or the power of God. For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are angels in heaven. But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses and the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him saying, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He’s not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are greatly mistaken.
So Jesus answers the question, but then he drives home to the main point. So here’s the answer to the question. You’re not married in heaven. You’re not married in heaven because marriage on earth is ultimately created the two to be a picture of your belonging to Jesus. Now I want you to know, I think in eternity we will recognize each other. Because, one, we recognize the resurrected Jesus. When Moses and Elijah came back at the transfiguration, Peter, James and John recognized Moses and Elijah when they’re at the transfiguration of Jesus. I think we’ll be recognizable to each other.
But ultimately, here’s the answer Jesus drives to ultimately, you were created to belong to him. God created you for him. That’s why scripture says his church is the bride and he is the groom. You ultimately belong to Jesus. Which is why Jesus ends the story talking about the resurrection. He says, that’s why I’m not called the former God of Abraham. Isaac and Jacob, I “was” the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But rather I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Because you were created to belong to me.
So he’s saying the the Sadducees, you need to not only embrace the resurrection, but you need to see your place in me in that resurrection because I ultimately am the resurrection. Whose image is on you? That’s where you shape yourself. Not according to Caesar, not according to self, but in the conviction of Jesus.
And then there’s this last question. I think this one, the individual comes and asks Jesus this question because he genuinely desires to know the answer. But one of the scribes came and heard them arguing. So he heard all these people coming around Jesus and recognizing that Jesus answered them well. He asked him, what commandment is the foremost of all? And Jesus answered him.
In Israel they had 613 commandments to live by. I would look at that and be like, no thank you. 613, are you kidding me? I’m lucky if I get three things in my day. 613. And so the popular question they’re asking is like, okay, I’m not going to get all these right, Jesus, what is the best one? If I see you one day face to face, I’m going to tell you, I followed this one rule. What one rule can that be?
And then Jesus says this, Jesus answered them foremost, hear oh Israel, the Lord your God is one and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. And the second is this. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
Jesus’ answer isn’t the typical religious answer. Religious answer would be like, you follow this rule, you follow this rule, you follow this rule and that will increase your performance into heaven and God will accept you and you’ll be big and mighty and be very important in heaven. So you do these according the way I’ve written them. Don’t ask me where they came from, but you just follow.
But what Jesus is saying here is not a list of rules. Jesus goes to relationship. You were ultimately created for relationship. This morning when we share what we’re sharing from God’s word, we’re not about knowledge. Now we’re going to share knowledge, but the end in itself is not knowledge. The end is worship.
You look at the way Jesus is answering these questions, your heart should be provoked to worship, to see the beauty of Christ making himself known in these passages. While people are coming to him to accuse him and malign him and destroy him, he stands there and he answers these questions with such beauty. Not only does he answer the question, but he drives it back every time to what’s most significant about our lives, which is our relationship to him.
God created you to know him, not intellectually, but intimately, and to enjoy him for all of eternity. And in the knowledge of him and in knowing him personally, you reflect the beauty of his glory in this world because he has defined you as your image is made known in him. And ultimately you end up loving what Jesus loves, which is people, because that’s who he’s come for.
The Bible, tells us God desires to tabernacle, that Jesus tabernacled with us, and that God’s temple now dwells in you saying God’s presence desires to be with you and in you and work through you, that his glory could be made known. And so if you want or what we’re about as a church, man, if you come in on Sunday morning, we’re not like here’s a list of things that you need to conduct in your life in order to live law, to make God happy with who you are. But rather God wants you to find yourself and who he is because he has come to pay it all for you.
That’s why when you get to the book of Galatians, it says the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness. Because we interact in our spirits of God, it’s all relational terms, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness. And then it says this against such things, there is no, what, law. There is no law. Jesus came, he established the new covenant, which means guess what? Guess what’s gone. Old covenant.
And for some reason at some point in our lives in our religious way of thinking, we like to resurrect the old covenant. Why? There’s two ways you kill a covenant, one: death and two: fulfillment. Jesus did both for you. He died and fulfilled the demands of the old covenant because you could not do it. That’s why it’s foolish to say, God, I obeyed the 10 commandments. Because Jesus knew that was the old covenant and you cannot do it.
But here he is. I’ve given my life as I give all that I am for you. If you want to enjoy life for the reason you’re created and the spirit of God, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, give your life for me. Enjoy the reason for which you were created. Jesus brings it to this crux and he says this, when Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, the religious leaders saw that, he said to him, you’re not far from the kingdom. I’m able to give you this answer what you’re seeking relationship with me that’s not far from the kingdom.
And then he says this, after that, no one would venture to ask him any more questions because Jesus demonstrated himself as the lamb without spot or blemish. And then he goes on, and Jesus began to say, as he taught in the temple, how is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? Like you religious leaders, you’re saying the Messiah will be the son of David. But David himself said in the Holy Spirit, the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet. David himself calls that Messiah, Lord. So in what sense is he his son?
So he’s saying, listen, you’re thinking about David and having a lineage as in a physical son. But David thought deeper than just that phrase. David also called him Lord. Now, how if he’s coming after David, would David then recognize him as ultimate Lord? Who did you say that I am? And then Jesus closes chapter 12 with a picture.
At the end, he points to the religious leaders and he just talks to the people there. He says, you know, look at the religious leaders, they wander in the temple, and they show everybody how much money they donate, and they pray out loud so everyone just thinks they’re so spiritual.
Guys, can I tell you, there’s nothing about my prayers that are more powerful than your prayers. The power that rests in prayer isn’t found in us, in ourselves, but rather the one that we’re praying to. It’s not something special about me. You have that same access to the Lord. So Jesus points to these religious leaders that are all about self and promoting self and using the auspices of religion to hide that.
And then he says this about this woman who’s a widow. At the very end He says, truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all the contributions to the treasuries. This widow comes and she puts in widow’s mite. She’s two little widow’s mites. And the history tells us that these widows mites are worth about six minutes of work. So she takes all that she has and puts it in the treasury to contribute and for they all put in out of their surplus, talking about the religious leaders, but she out of her poverty put in all she owned and all she had to live on.
Jesus gave his life for you so that you could wrap yourself in your identity in him and in loving response, give your life back. And this picture is just a picture of this lady who’s given it all. You think of these religious leaders and you would look at it and be like, man, they’ve got so much to give. They’re so talented and so popular and so cool and everyone looks at them. Jesus is like, it’s the weak lady. It’s the lady that people would say maybe it doesn’t have so much to offer. She’s the one powerful in God’s eyes. She’s the one that’s truly trusting.
You look at the story this morning of Mark chapter 12 we see how it all fits together, but can I tell you, your Christian maturity isn’t determined by what you know. But rather by how well you love. I want to be careful in saying by how you love, because I don’t mean just like walking out here like a hippie and be like, dude, I love you man. I love you. What’s true for you is true for me. That’s not what I mean.
When you love the way you that God calls you to love you stand for something, because you understand how important it is to the identity of who we are as people. That’s why Jesus said, sheep without a shepherd, as Jesus wept over Jerusalem because there were lost. You stand for that. Absolutely love people, but you care enough about people to root yourself in a conviction. And the mark of Christian maturity is not determined by what you know, but how are you love. Rooted yourself in the conviction that is your identity in Jesus.
Don’t be afraid of truth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t make paramount insignificant things of life when there are more important things to the identity of who we are. And the sooner you shape that, the more powerfully you can live in this world.