Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mark Chapter 12

There are a number of parables found in today’s lesson. Some, like the parable of the tenants, were found in our earlier discussion on the book of Matthew. Others, like the treatise on marriage at the resurrection, are unique to this chapter. I find it fascinating to see how Jesus constantly deflects verbal arguments in the temple knowing what He had to face in the coming week. Once again, we see that the leaders and teacher of the day were trying to trip Him up, but Jesus prevails. Mostly what Jesus faces here are attacks on the idea of the resurrection.

24Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? 27He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!" – Mark 12:24-27

The Sadducees were against the concept of the Resurrection. They felt it was an absurd concept that could not possibly take place. They based most of their doctrine on the five books of the Old Testament written by Moses. These books were Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, and Leviticus. Obviously, there was much more to the Old Testament than this. Jesus points out that by the time of Moses, Abraham was long dead. Still, God is quoted as saying that He is the God of Abraham. That meant that Abraham still existed at least somewhere in the universe. In this way, Jesus turns their own arguments against them. How can God be the God of someone who is dead? It is impossible, therefore we have hope in the Resurrection.

32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To 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."
34When 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. – Mark 12:32-34

This passage kind of blows me away because it shows that one of the Sadducees is actually showing some intelligence and is actually listening to Jesus. This is in response to the greatest commandment of all. We are told to love God with everything we have. As Romans 12 states, this is our only reasonable response to what God provides for us. In that, we must exhibit this love toward our neighbors. I have spoken on this before, but it even carries over to loving our enemies as we love ourselves. Finally, we even see this at the end of the chapter when the poor widow provides an example that fits in with this commandment. She gave everything she had because she knew that she owed it all to God. This is a strong commandment, as under Mosaic law, mankind was only asked to give 10%. With change, however, comes greater responsibility.

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