Silencing the Critics
Mark 12:28-37 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.
35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ 37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.
The days just before Jesus’ crucifixion He was challenged in the Temple. On Palm Sunday He had entered Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt and Jesus allowed the crowds to worship Him as the coming Christ- the Saviour of Israel. Nobody understood that He would be the Saviour of all mankind for whoever will repent and believe. Nobody understood that He would take our sins upon His body and suffer the punishment that we all deserve for our rebellion against God. To this day, the salvation of the human soul is dependent upon a proper understanding of these events and genuine faith in Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ alone is the wisdom of God and we see His wisdom on full display as He faces the questioning of the scribes. The scribes prepared the copies of the Old Testament Scriptures and would teach the Jewish law to the people. They attempted to stump Jesus by asking Him which of the 613 laws that had been given to Moses was the greatest. Jesus quotes to them Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18. He sums up the Law perfectly as He fulfilled the Law perfectly. Jesus, as the Son of God, is the only person ever to walk upon this earth to fulfill all that God has required. He reflected the glory of God.
But what is fascinating about Jesus’ dialogue with the scribes is that they end in agreement. The scribes confirm that what Jesus states is correct. Jesus doesn’t flaunt His wisdom and authority over them in how He responds but challenges them to go further but they refused to do so. Jesus was leading them on and yet there was no response. What did He say that silenced them? He simply said in verse 34, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” Why didn’t they say, “What do you mean? How can I come into the Kingdom of God?” It is because they knew exactly what He meant. Jesus, in this statement, confirms that He is the Christ- that He is the one sent from God to save them. But because He did not fit their image of what they had expected of the Christ, because they did not ultimately think that they needed salvation, they remained quiet. Jesus had silenced them in unbelief.
How foolish can someone be to be so close to the Savior and yet still reject Him? How crazy is it to be so unwilling to see what is so obvious and clear? And yet this was the case with the scribes and it can so easily be the case with anyone in our day. They were unwilling to believe that Jesus could be the Christ. They did not want to be saved. Even now, when many are presented with the truth of the Gospel they do not run to Jesus and embrace Him as their Saviour but they remain silent. They don’t want to know any more. They would prefer not to know. What a terrible reflection of the depravity of mankind. What a form of condemnation against the Son of God who came to this earth to show His love for them. Truly if anyone rejects the Christ, Jesus will reject them in the final judgment.
Jesus then shows the people in the Temple what the scribes had not taught them in regards to the coming Christ. The scribes had taught the people that the coming Christ would be the son of David meaning that He would be a descendant of David (which of course He was). As Jesus teaches those in the Temple about Psalm 110:1 which was written by King David, He asks why David, when speaking about the Christ, doesn’t address the Christ as a descendant of his own flesh but rather as Lord? By stating that the Christ was Lord, David recognized that his descendant would be greater than him. How could this be? It could only be if the Christ was God in the flesh. It could only be if the Christ was eternal and wasn’t just sent from God but was actually God in the flesh. Jesus claimed to be the Christ in what He declares and He also claims to be equal with God which of course was true as He is the Son of God.
Do you understand the significance of what Jesus declares here? Do you see the wisdom and authority in every word that Jesus speaks? Are you moved to draw nearer to Him? Are you in awe as the crowd was? If you were present to hear these words spoken would you be among those who heard Him gladly? Or would you be silenced in fear and step back from His midst?
The words of Jesus are powerful. They will either draw us to Himself or we will be repulsed by them. No one can truly hear the words of Jesus without one of these two responses. Why? Because they are the very words of God. So many people today question the existence of God and are looking for supernatural responses. But when they are confronted with the very Words of God as revealed in the Bible they are silent. They don’t draw near. They don’t care or understand their significance and don’t recognize the voice of God speaking to them directly. They look at the words in the Bible as the scribes did, words on paper to be studied like any other book rather than a living person. The scribes were speaking to the Word in the flesh (John 1:14)! The scribes were speaking to the Christ who has always been, the Son of God, who spoke through the men of God who were chosen to write the books in the Old Testament. It was through these Old Testament saints in their union to the coming Christ by faith that Jesus brought the very words that they spoke of His coming into existence. The scribes were looking in the face of the very author of the writings that they so carefully studied and yet did not recognize Him. They saw David but they could not see Jesus. They saw Moses but could not see the Son of God. Do you see Jesus everywhere as you read the Word of God as revealed in the Bible? Do you rejoice in Him and the salvation that He has provided for all who will believe?
Pastor Murray Hack
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