Mark 12:13-27 13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.
18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
Here in the Temple, days before His crucifixion, Jesus battles the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Sadducees. Different groups that were at odds against each other united in their attack to defeat Jesus of Nazareth and the wisdom of God. Jesus had publicly declared to all that He was the Christ as the people worshiped Him on Palm Sunday as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. Before these enemies of God would unite in blood to kill Him they attempted to defeat Jesus through their words. These were experts in the Old Testament scriptures. They had different views and interpretations and yet were very persuasive among their followers. And yet none of them could trap Jesus in all their attempts to make Him less than what He claimed. Jesus was indeed the Christ- the perfect sacrifice who came to take away the sins of the world but no one at this point understood what He would yet do.
The Herodians were loyal to King Herod- the family of figurehead kings that were appointed to rule over parts of Israel in the time of Jesus. The Pharisees added all kinds of laws on top of the Old Testament Law. These Herodians and Pharisees united in trying to trap Jesus. They thought they could defeat Jesus if they could prove that He was against the Roman government. They tried to trap Jesus with a question about taxes. They first flatter Jesus to try and get Him to let down His guard and to trust them. But Jesus cannot be tricked. He cannot be deceived. Jesus replies with the wisdom of God by simply showing them a coin with the face of Caesar. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The people who were watching marveled at the simple and clear explanation of submission to civil authority even if the people wanted to be free from Roman rule. The Herodians and the Pharisees were silenced and put to shame. Jesus responds perfectly in every situation. He is worthy to be praised!
Next up were the Sadducees. They thought they could make a fool of Jesus by proving their view of the ridiculousness of the resurrection of the dead. They used a scenario of a woman who marries a man and is widowed. She remarries his brother but each time she again is widowed after marrying all seven brothers. In the minds of the Sadducees if there was a resurrection of the dead there would be no way to determine who was her husband. But Jesus points out their lack of understanding of the eternal state. For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. In the eternal state, those who are born again by the Spirit of God will be united to Christ in the union of Christ and the Church. Jesus could not explain this in full to the Sadducees at this point who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead at all so He then goes on to prove their error again in a simple but profound way: by describing the words of God to Moses at the burning bush “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” By speaking in the present tense Jesus makes it clear that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive after death.
There was no question that Jesus could not answer. There was no way that Jesus could be tricked or overcome. He is perfect in every way! The Christ has come! Just think if you were in the Temple when Jesus was debating with these experts who attacked Him with their best arguments. The true versus the false was revealed. There is an absolute truth as is seen in the person of Jesus Christ. No one who witnessed these conversations would question the authority and wisdom and the truth that was to be found in the words of Jesus. He was above any opponent that came against Him. Many people don’t believe there is absolute truth. Many people believe that we must believe the experts of the world but the only source of true wisdom and Truth is revealed in the Word of God. Jesus reveals that He is the Truth in the life that He lived. This final confrontation in the Temple shouts this loud and clear.
Do you marvel at Jesus? Are you amazed at His Words and His actions as He walked upon this earth? Do they impact you today? Is He everything to you? Or are you trying to argue with Him as these great men once did? Are you trying to defeat Him and claim you are greater than Him? To become a child of God we must submit to Jesus. We submit to His every word. Jesus must become our ultimate authority. He is the one that we look to first for help in our time of need. He is our rock and our guide. We stand upon Him. We trust Him and we love Him.
But if you have not yet come to a place of submission to Him, examine His life. Examine who He really is. Don’t take someone else’s word for who Jesus is. Examine the Scriptures and decide for yourself. If you truly read about the life of Jesus with an open heart and without prejudice you will marvel! You will see that He is God in the flesh! You will see that He came to this earth to save you by dying on the cross in your place if you will only repent and believe!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 12:1-12 1 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11 this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.
Have you ever been in a situation where you could cut the tension in the air with a knife? We’ve all experienced times when there is an intensity of emotions or feelings. Fierce opponents are about to face each other or a terrible wrong is about to be committed. Such was the environment when Jesus spoke in the Temple in Jerusalem on the days leading up to His crucifixion. He had publicly revealed that He was indeed the Christ by allowing the people worship Him as He entered on a donkey’s colt singing praises to His Name. Jesus cleansed the Temple a second time (like at the beginning of His public ministry) exposing the system of religion that was practiced in His Temple that was contrary to the will of God. The chief priests and scribes and elders would not stand by as Jesus came to take His rightful place. They would oppose Him with all their might. They would kill Him. But how would they complete their purposes? In Mark Chapter 12 we read of the battle that took place in the Temple. A battle not with swords but with words. At the end of Mark 11 Jesus’ authority is questioned which He rebuts, silencing His opponents. Now Jesus speaks to them a parable. Parables are intended to hide truth from the unbelieving and reveal truth to those who will believe. But by this point it would have been so obvious to anyone witnessing these events of what was going on. The chief priests and scribes and elders were against Jesus and Jesus was against them. There was no unity between them. They were fierce enemies and a fierce hostility existed between them. Their words were not intended to accommodate the other but to defeat their opponent.
The irony is that Jesus’ fiercest opposition came not from the most wicked people in society but from the religious elite who should have been looking for His coming as the Christ. Never think that all religious people represent God. We see from the life of Jesus that people who claim to be Christians can often be the farthest from God. The judgment of the hypocrite is more severe than the “known” sinner. Why? Because the hypocrite knows the truth and yet intentionally denies it. The “known” sinner does not care to know the Word of God but just wants to gratify their sinful desires. They too are guilty in the sight of God but the hypocrite claims to be following God and yet will directly oppose Him. Hypocrisy is a great danger in the Church and can be so destructive. It must always be guarded against. Sadly, the Temple in Jerusalem had not instantly become in this depraved and wicked state. The hypocrisy would have creeped in slowly and subtly until all its religious forms were superficial and deceptive. Jesus could see through it all and stood against it all.
And so, in the parable that He now speaks, Jesus describes an owner of a vineyard who had to go to another country and who leased out his property. But who was left in charge of the property claimed it as their own. Any time the owner sent someone to take some fruit of what was rightfully his, they were beaten, struck on the head, and even were killed. When the owner sent his son who was also the heir of the property they killed him intentionally so that they could claim the property for themselves. The owner obviously represents God the Father, the servants sent to take some fruit are the Old Testament prophets, and finally the son is Jesus Christ. Their opposition were the religious leaders in Jerusalem to whom Jesus spoke the parable. They knew they were coming against the owner (God) but justified it in their own eyes. They knew that they were coming against the son (Jesus Christ) and yet would not surrender to Him. They were right. They would not be opposed. They would not back down. They would hold on to their religion without God. How foolish is the hypocrite that opposes God to his own destruction! How foolish were the religious leaders to think that they could defeat Jesus Christ!
What is one of the most shocking and amazing truths in God’s plan of salvation is how He will use hypocrites in His plan of salvation. They will ultimately be condemned without repentance and faith in Jesus Christ but God often uses evil from within to further His purposes. It does not destroy His plans. Jesus says, “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” What is more shocking than what appears to be a terrible defeat is revealed to be a triumph? Often a church will go through a terrible problem because of some hypocrisy within. God’s Name is tarnished and brought low and spit upon and yet out of the ashes of what appears to be defeat God births forth a new and blessed ministry. Jesus would be rejected and killed by these leaders who knew that Jesus was speaking about them, and yet He would still be victorious!
Have you been hurt by the Church? Have you been disillusioned by the Church? Have you been confused when you thought God would intervene but He didn’t? Ask God for more clarity on your situation. There is likely more to what has transpired than what you may have realized. Be careful to identify the true believer from the false. Be careful to identify hypocrisy versus the truth that is found only in Jesus Christ. And recognize that God can yet use the evil that you have experienced for His good. It may yet to be revealed but He will always bless and uplift those who are willing to suffer for His Name as He exposes the evil for what it is. Jesus was fiercely against the religious leaders who opposed Him and He is against hypocrites in the Church today. But also beware of becoming a hypocrite yourself. It is easy to think we are on the right path when we are in fact on the wrong one. Examine your heart and your motives.
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 11:20-33 20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” 31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
This passage related to the fig tree in Mark 11 almost seems out of place. Jesus had just cursed the fig tree after His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Jesus had publicly declared that He is indeed the Christ by allowing the people to worship Him. This was the same week that He would be crucified. The religious leaders would not let Him overtake their authority. But who really had the authority? Of course Jesus Christ was the one who was in control and His death occurred according to the will of God to provide for our salvation. Jesus curses a fig tree signifying Israel’s time as a blessed nation of God was coming to an end. The Gospel would now be open to the Gentiles (the foreign nations). But Jesus then shifts His attention not to the condition of Israel but to teach His disciples a lesson in relation to where they were at in their walk with God.
Jesus’ disciples wanted to rule in His Kingdom but they did not yet understand what it meant that He would die and rise again. They continued to struggle to understand how different the Kingdom of God is from the kingdoms of this world. And because of this, their faith in God was not steady and consistent. It was wavering. One moment they believed God and the next moment they doubted. One moment they understood what Jesus was saying to them and the next moment they were completely confused.
This is how every single one of us enters into the Kingdom of God. In the beginning, when we have come to a place of true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, we don’t yet know all that Jesus knows. We will often be confused and bewildered questioning God and what He is doing. We will have doubts that creep into our heart. We will question our salvation. Although we may be standing upon the rock of our salvation we don’t feel sure in our footing. We feel like we may slip and fall to our own destruction but once you truly stand upon the Rock who is Jesus Christ you will never ultimately fall away for He will hold you fast and preserve you to the end.
Jesus had faith in God. He was absolutely confident in His relationship with God the Father. He knew the plan of salvation. He knew He was loved by God the Father and He loved Him in return. He does not doubt. He is not uncertain. He is sure and steady and unwavering. And so Jesus uses the cursing of the fig tree to remind His disciples of what they should be striving for in their relationship with God. If they had faith in God by which they did not doubt in their heart they would be able to influence creation itself. They would be able to curse a fig tree and it would wither or they could throw a mountain into the sea.
But I don’t believe Jesus is talking about rock removal without construction equipment or plant care without tools. He is speaking about spiritual obstacles that stand in our way because of our lack of faith or because of doubt in our heart. The greater the obstacle the more power or strength is needed for them to be removed. But Jesus connects the two. It is no more difficult for God to curse a fig tree than it is for Him to move a mountain. It is not dependent upon our power or spiritual strength but rather our unwavering faith in God. If we have faith in God and do not doubt there will be no spiritual obstacle that cannot be overcome.
This is directly tied to Jesus Christ’s authority. Jesus had publicly made known to all of Israel that He is indeed the Christ with His entrance into Jerusalem on the previous day. He also had shown His authority in clearing the temple of the money-changers who were cheating the people for their own profit. The chief priests and scribes and elders question His authority but in Jesus’ response He flips the tables again upon them. Jesus questions them about the baptism of John who went before Jesus preparing the way for Him. The religious authority in Jerusalem would not submit to the teaching of John the Baptist just as they would not submit to Jesus’ teaching and they were afraid of the people who did highly regard John the Baptist. And so the chief priests and scribes and elders wavered in their response. They appeared foolish in responding, “We do not know” to Jesus’ question.
There was never a question that Jesus could not answer and as we grow in faith in God we too will be able to answer more and more difficult questions. For in the Bible is contained all the answers of life. Within the Word of God is revealed the complete plan of salvation and the more we know what it says, the more faith we can and will have in God. We can come to a place in our walk with God where we do not doubt our salvation and we do not act with uncertainty in God. We can have complete confidence in Him and we can be unmoved by the fear of man.
But as we grow in confidence in God we must not disregard the importance of forgiving others and being forgiven ourselves by others. Our faith in God will be obstructed and hindered by unforgiveness. We will not be able to break through spiritual obstacles until we forgive or have been forgiven. Do you still doubt your relationship with God? Strengthen your faith by the Word of God! Grow in confidence in Him! Forgive and be forgiven! Seek Him with all your heart!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 11:12-19 12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
Prior to this passage recorded in the book of Mark, Jesus had just made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He had publicly declared to the world that He is the Christ as He allowed the people to worship Him as the Messiah, the Christ who came to save Israel. But He didn’t just come to save Israel but anyone who is willing to call upon his Name! He came to save us from our sins for we are all born into this world separated from God because of the sin nature within us inherited from our original parents Adam and Eve. How would we be saved? Through His death and resurrection. Jesus had prophesied that He would die. Three times He told His disciples what would happen but they could not understand. Soon He would reign but first He must die. But who would kill Him? Jesus had already told His disciples that the He would be killed by the Jewish religious leaders as well as the Romans. All of mankind would come against Him. Truly the sinner is an enemy against God at heart. We all by nature, apart from being born again, hate God for we love our sin. Until we come to a place of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ we will oppose God.
But as of yet Jesus had not told His disciples what would happen to those who would have Him killed. What would God do with them? Surely no person could kill the Son of God without there being a consequence. Here, after Jesus enters into Jerusalem, Jesus for the first time reveals what will happen to those who will continually reject Him. They will be cursed. Israel had been given the special blessing of God for thousands of years. They were the chosen nation. They were blessed of God above all the other nations. God spoke to them directly. They heard the voice of God. They had the Word of God. They were given the Law of God and had the special protection of God. And yet when the Christ made His glorious entrance into Jerusalem the majority of the people within the nation of Israel did not recognize Him. The religious leaders would do everything in their power to have Him killed and He would be dead within less than a week. Jesus saw who came to worship Him. He knew the hearts of those who saw Him ride the donkey’s colt throughout the city. He witnessed the public depravity in the Temple- the place where God’s very presence was to be manifest. How could the Jews claim they were a holy and a special people when the worship in the Temple showed all kinds of outward evil and rebellion against God? Jesus had already cleared the Temple at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13-21) and so soon after it was already in the same state of wickedness.
And so Jesus uses the picture of the fig tree. Jesus looks for a fig from a tree that was already in leaf. It was not the season for figs but this tree already had leaves. The fig tree is unique in that the fruit grows before the leaves. So Jesus goes to look for figs on this one tree that should have had fruit. But he found none. And so he curses the fig tree. No more would it produce fruit. This fig tree was a picture of the nation of Israel. Israel should have produced all kinds of fruit. It should have had all kinds of righteous people reflecting the glory of God and worshipping Jesus as the Christ. But there were so few. It was like a barren fig tree. And so God would now reject Israel and open up the Gospel to the rest of the fig trees that were not yet in harvest. The Gentile nations would come into the Kingdom of God and Israel’s time of blessing would be over. No more would Israel have the unique position among the nations. God will yet be faithful to Israel for the sake of His promise to Abraham and there will be a great harvest of Jews that will come into the Kingdom of God before Jesus’ second coming but for now they remain cursed.
So when Jesus clears the Temple the second time this is a grand statement He is making. No more will you know My presence. No more will I make Myself known to you. They had rejected Him and so He would now reject them.
Jeremiah 8:13 When I would gather them, declares the LORD, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them.”
When Jesus first cleared the Temple they could claim that they did not know who He was. But by the second time they should have known. They should have worshipped Him. They should have been living in a manner worthy of His coming but sadly this was not the case. And yet the tremendous mercy of God was still seen in Israel. In spite of their rejection of Him, God would not destroy Jerusalem until A.D. 70. He would still give people time to repent. For 40 years they would still have time to believe in Jesus Christ and He was willing to yet save them.
How foolish are we to think that God’s mercy is unending. If we continually reject God there will be a consequence. No matter who we are, our life is going to come to an end. Some people are given more time than others but we all must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. On that day how will Jesus Christ see us? Will our body (our temple) be clean? Will we be washed by His blood? Will we be found ready for His coming? Will we be living a transformed life by the power of the Holy Spirit actively at work in us? Or will we be like Israel when Jesus made His grand entrance into Jerusalem? Do not think that you can go on rejecting Jesus Christ forever without there being a consequence. Do not think that you can go on sinning against God forever without there being a consequence. Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ before it is too late. There is still time to turn. It is not too late. And His love is so amazing that He will receive the worst sinner! He can and will save all who turn to Him! He died for all who will receive Him!
Pastor Murray Hack
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.