Day Three – Tuesday
Texts: (Matthew 21:23–26:5, Mark 11:27–14:2, Luke 20:1–22:2, John 12:37–50)
The theme for today’s devotional is “authority.” As we consider Holy Week and all that Jesus was and is, ask yourself, “Who has the right to rule in my life?” Who’s the boss? Remember that 80’s TV show? Related to this question is, Who exactly did Jesus claim to be? This is the central question in the gospel of Mark and it all comes to a head on the last week of Jesus’ life. Tuesday afternoon is the last time Jesus publicly teaches in the temple. Pay careful attention to His words on this day as they are his final words. Today we will examine six separate but related passages in Mark 11-12.
(Note, you may want to open your Bible to Mark 11-12 and follow along. There is a 20 minute video below walking through this passage and the events of Tuesday if that is helpful.)
First, we see in Mark 11:27-33 some members of the Sanhedrin, Israel’s highest ruling body, decided to conduct an investigation and they ask Jesus a question:
“By what authority are you doing these things?” (Mk 11:38, NIV)
When they say, “these things,” specifically they are referring to His triumphal entry and him turning over the tables in the temple. One of the things I remember about living in Texas were the fire ants and the ant hills that I avoided like land minds in my yard. Have you ever stepped on an ant hill? If Jerusalem was an anthill, with His triumphal entry and temple cleansing, Jesus stepped right on top of it. A buzz was created. Immediately, anger and jealousy were evoked in the religious leaders and they were now getting organized. The large crowd and Jesus’ “king – like” arrival was not something that would go unanswered. They did not authorize Jesus to act like this … Remember, Jesus is an outsider and he is kind of usurping their power. So essentially they say, “Show me your badge!” “Where are your credentials?” Notice Jesus’ answer, he says,
“I will ask you one question. Answer me… John’s baptism–was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!” (Mk 11:29-30, NIV)
And now they’re trapped. Do you see the conundrum? If the leaders admit that John’s baptism was from heaven, then they have to agree that John pointed to Jesus and that would mean that Jesus’ ministry was from heaven. But if they say John’s baptism wasn’t from heaven, then the crowd of people will be upset and they fear the multitude. Remember, they were making a lot of money off that multitude and so they didn’t want to upset them. These are classic politicians with their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. So they can’t answer Jesus’ question either way, so they say,
“We don’t know.” (Mk 11:33, NIV)
This answer kind of cracks me up. I imagine them standing around looking at each other going, “Who thought up this dumb question?” It just blew up in their face.
After this Jesus tells a parable in Mark 12:1-12, it’s called the “Parable of the Vineyard.” In the parable the owner is God and the vineyard is the nation of Israel. God put his vineyard into the hands of tenants – people who would steward the vineyard – those are the religious leaders of Israel. Then, at harvest time, the owner would want the tenants to pay their rent by giving him a large part of the harvest so the owner would send servants to receive the harvest. Here in the parable the servants are the prophets of God who called the tenants to bear fruit of repentance. But, instead of giving them fruit, the tenants didn’t want to listen. Jesus says they got greedy and just beat‐up and then killed the owner’s servants! (That’s what happened to the prophets many times in the Old Testament, the leaders would actually kill them because they didn’t want to listen.) So, the owner, who is God, says He had one more idea:
“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ (Mk 11:6, NIV)
Surely if I sent my one and only son to collect the rent, they’ll listen to Him, right?
“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. (Mk 11:7-9, NIV)
Jesus is looking these Elders and chief Priests right in the eye, saying, you are those wicked tenants. And not only that, but what you have now will be taken from you. God was going to destroy not only them, but the entire nation of Israel in AD 70.
“They knew he had spoken the parable against them. (Mk 11:12, NIV)
Jesus’ message was loud and clear. They understood what he meant and they didn’t like it.
The leaders are now, more than ever, against him and they try to trap him with a series of questions in the next few passages:
Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. (Mk 12:13, NIV)
What is amazing is that these two groups hated each other yet here they are teaming up. This is like the conservatives and the liberals joining together. The Pharisees were like the conservatives – they represented the Jews. The fact that the Jews had to pay taxes to Caesar was very unpopular, some Jews just refused to pay it. The Herodians on the other hand, they were the liberals – they represented the government, they supported King Herod’s dynasty. They would have supported the taxation system that kept the government funded. There’s this polarized debate going on about taxes and they try to get Jesus to commit to one side of the debate. First, they come to him with seemingly gracious words,
“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. (Mk 12:14, NIV)
This manipulation makes me wanna puke with their fake – flattering words. Have you ever had someone speak to you in with nice language, and then turn around and stab you in the back? These guys are up to no good. Then they ask him a question:
Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? (Mk 12:14, NIV)
It doesn’t matter whatever side he chooses. They can use that against him to trap him and lay charges against him. But Jesus is not deceived. He knows it’s not a genuine question, it’s a trick question.
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” (Mk 12:15, NIV)
You got any coins? “Yeah, sure, I just found some that somebody threw all over the floor yesterday when you turned the tables over!”
They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mk 12:16-17, NIV)
Jesus says, your obligations to the state do not necessarily infringe on your obligations to God. Just do both.
And they were amazed at him. (Mk 12:17, NIV)
Jesus easily avoids their trap. The Pharisees and Herodians were left speechless and embarrassed as they walked away.
Round 4, here we meet the Sadducees who come to Jesus. The Sadducees were a Jewish party in the first century who only believed in Moses’ writings (Genesis – Deuteronomy) and not the whole Old Testament. Since they didn’t see anywhere in those 5 books that referred a bodily resurrection, they didn’t believe in it. So, they try to trap Jesus with a hypothetical question about a woman who has had 7 husbands who all died:
At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her? Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 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’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” (Mk 12:18-27, NIV)
Jesus responds by saying, you are in error (literally, you are mistaken.) First, there’s no marriage in heaven. Second, what about the issue of the resurrection in general? Notice how Jesus uses their authority, the first 5 books of Moses, to prove the resurrection. Jesus points out the present tense of the verb, “I AM.” It’s not, “I used to be.” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive today waiting for the resurrection. Jesus pegs them as poor theologians who don’t read their bibles carefully enough. Jesus defeats them and sends them on their way! This is outstanding, I mean who’s next? He’s on a roll! He’s knocking them down left and right.
Have you ever gone to Chuck‐e‐Cheese and seen that game “wack‐a‐mole”? It’s a game with a big hammer and a mole pops out and – wack‐ you knock it down! That’s what it’s like here – Jesus is playing wack‐a‐mole. Wack a Chief Priest, wack‐a‐Pharisee, wack‐a‐Herodian and wack‐a‐Sadducee. They keep popping up and Jesus knocks them back down. He’s on fire, they can’t trap him. So, just as he whacks that mole down, another one pops up:
The next mole who pops up is a teacher of the law who over hears all of the debating and asks Jesus:
“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mk 12:29, NIV)
The law of Moses contained 613 commandments and if Jesus had to pick only one, surely they could use that against him somehow, This was a question which teachers of the law debated all the time, and so he thinks, this ought to be a good one – surely we’ll trap Jesus here. But Jesus answers it, the greatest commandment is to:
30 “Love the Lord your God…”
31 “Love your neighbor as yourself…”
The whole law is summed up with those two commandments. The teacher even admits that this is correct and he agrees with Jesus.
Jesus has successfully dodged every bullet they tried to shoot him with. And at this point, they all give up. They raise the white flag of surrender. “You win Jesus, we can’t trap you, we give up.” The texts says:
“And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.” (Mk 12:34, NIV).
Since they are out of questions, Jesus turns around and decides to become the question-asker. He asks them a question about a passage from the Old Testament, specifically Ps 110, one of the psalms of David:
“How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: ” ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” ‘ David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” (Mk 12:35-37, NIV).
Now that’s a good question. Everybody knew that the Christ, the Messiah, would be the son of David and sit on David’s throne. But Jesus points out something interesting here. In Psalm 110 David himself called his own son – “Lord.” Why does David call his own son Lord? The term, “Lord” there denotes “Master,” it was the Hebrew word “Adonai,” a term which is used of God as the one in authority, the one in control. The point Jesus is making here is to show them that the Scriptures teach that the Christ was going to be more than just a descendent of David. He was actually greater than David! After all, King David himself, their greatest king, called him Lord. This is significant because Jesus is claiming to be the Lord in that passage. And if He is, that means they need to submit to Him. All of their schemes and traps are attempts to call into question his right to rule over them. And here in this last passage – Jesus points out from Scripture that He actually does have the authority to rule over them.
In conclusion, Jesus has answered all of their questions and come out on top of the leaders of Israel. And, they are way out of line. Just stop for a moment and think, do they have any idea who they are questioning? God in the flesh is standing right before them. Think for a moment about both the patience of Jesus and the nerve these people have as if they have a right to put their own Creator on the witness stand and thunder questions at Him – as if He’s guilty of something? The point in all of these passages is that the people are rejecting Jesus as the Lord of their lives. Friends, we do not have authority over Jesus, Jesus has authority over us. He is the Lord, which means He deserves to be in charge of every single part of our lives.
Prayer: Lord, I believe who you are who you claimed to be. I believe you are the great son of David promised in the Bible. You are Lord. You are my authority. What you say, I will do. I thank you that even though you have this high place of authority, you chose to empty yourself, and humble yourself, and you came not to be served, but to serve and to give your life a ransom for many.
Stay tuned, tomorrow we will examine the events of Wednesday of Holy Week.
Holy Week Devotionals:
- Day 1 – Palm Sunday
- Day 2 – Monday
- Day 3 – Tuesday
- Day 4 – Wednesday
- Day 5 – Maundy Thursday
- Day 6 – Good Friday
- Day 7 – Holy Saturday
- Day 8 – Resurrection Sunday