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Jesus -- the Messiah #25

Jesus Heads into the Final Battle

Jesus had now entered Jerusalem and began to conduct His battle of love for righteousness in the heart of the nation.  Now begins direct confrontation with the religious leaders.

The religious leaders are the ones most upset by the kind of Messiah Jesus was.  The different groups were sure that the Messiah would come to join them and put down all the others.  Instead, we see Jesus the Messiah setting Himself against their selfish perversions of true religion.  He gathers ordinary people to be His disciples and trusts that they will truly understand God’s will of love and serve it.

Read Mark 12:1-34.

The Parable of the Tenants

1 He then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.

6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this scripture: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone ;

11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’ ?”

12 Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied.

17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.

Marriage at the Resurrection

18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now 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’ ? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

The Greatest Commandment

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 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: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To 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.”

34 When 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.


vv. 1-12 -The Jewish leaders knew Jesus had told this parable to criticize them. (v. 12) Israel was often spoken of as God’s vineyard by the Old Testament prophets. Now Jesus uses this image in His parable:

  • “owner” = God

  • “servants” = prophets

  • “vineyard” = Israel

  • “son” = Jesus

  • “tenants” = nation’s leaders

Jesus knew the confrontation that was before Him in Jerusalem. But He also knew the victory that would come from God’s hand, quoting from Psalm 118: “The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

vv. 13-17 – The “Herodians” (v. 13) were the party that supported King Herod.  The
Pharisees were trying to get Jesus to fall into a trap so that the Herodians would turn against Him.  If Jesus said that people shouldn’t pay taxes, the Herodians would see this as an act against their king.  If Jesus said that people should pay taxes, the people would see him as supporting their Roman Empire enemies.  Jesus recognized their ploy and simply dodged it while upholding righteousness:  “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (v. 17)

vv. 18-27 – Next another group came to challenge Jesus, the Sadducees. These leaders were more secular than religious. They were the politicians of the day. They had little interest in religious matters, except as it could be used for their political purposes. They came to mock Jesus’ teaching about the resurrection of the dead. Jesus not only answers their question but provides them evidence for the resurrection from the Old Testament scriptures: “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” (v. 27)

vv. 28-34 – Now came a sincere inquirer.  This teacher of the law was not there to trick
Jesus but to openheartedly discuss and learn from Him.  Jesus found that they thought very much alike.  Both agreed that God’s concern was that we live in love toward Him and toward our neighbor.  True religion was love, not “burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (v. 33)  

Jesus took each person as he or she really was.  He did not see them as part of a group or judge them before they said what they thought.  Jesus saw this sincere man’s heart and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (v. 34)  He had the right perspective to participate in God’s struggle for righteousness.

Have you ever had to confront arrogant, self-seeking religious leaders around you? That is part of the battle for righteousness. Sometimes it must begin right in the heart of the religion, against its leaders.

Your friend,


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