The Teaching of the Servant Mark 11:20-13:37, cont’d.
Mark 12:28-34 Concerning the Great Commandment
Mark 12:28-31-Jesus is still in the Temple. One of the scribes recognized that Jesus had given a good answer to the question concerning the resurrection. So, he ventured to ask a question of his own. “What commandment is the foremost of them all?” Jesus responds with two passages (not one) from the Old Testament…but, He teaches that the second is the natural result of the first. Together, they are what we commonly refer to as the Great Commandment. The first passage was given to the Jews at the time when Moses reiterated the 10 Commandments to the people, just before his death and their entry into the Promised Land. Moses recalls the time at Mt. Sinai when God had first given them the 10 Commandments. The people had responded in awe and reverence…to the degree that they felt unworthy to come close to His presence, and requested that Moses go before God in their behalf. God was pleased and said, “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29). God then instructs Moses to tell the people to go back to their tents…but for him to stay so that He might give him the rest of the commandments that were to guide them in their daily lives. If they will keep these laws they will be blessed by Him. Moses then says…
- O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 4. Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
Beginning in verse 4 is the “Shema” (“Shema” is the first word and means “Hear”)…”which became Judaism’s basic confession of faith”…Rabbinic tradition taught that originally the Shema consisted only of verse 4, but was later expanded to include vv. 5-9, 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41. According to rabbinic law the Shema was to be recited morning and evening (v. 7) (Ryrie).
Verse 4 should be understood to mean, “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” The following verses in Deuteronomy lay stress to the exclusivity of worship that the Jews were to give to Him (and no other god). But not only is their worship to be exclusive to Him…it is to be inclusive of every facet of their lives…there is nothing left out. They are to worship God with everything that they are and all that they have…”you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” When Jesus quotes this verse, He adds “and mind” (:30)…as an interpretive explanation of the all inclusive nature of worship that is to be given to God.
For more insight into the Shema see:
The second passage comes from Leviticus (19:18)…in a portion of the book that is detailing the laws concerning how the Jews were to live their daily lives. The verse reads…
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
The key to the laws detailed in Leviticus is the relationship between the people and their God…which had just been stated in the first passage. This relationship is vividly repeated over and over throughout the book (see February 14, Leviticus 18-19)…
These laws are based upon the nature of the character of God, and the relationship that the people have with the Him …
- The name “LORD” is 273 times in Leviticus
- “I am the LORD”-49 times in Leviticus (3 times in chapter 18; 8 times in chapter 19)
- “I am the LORD your God”-21 times in Leviticus (3 times in chapter 18; 7 times in chapter 19)
- “God”-47 times in Leviticus
- “…I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 18:1-5,6,21,30)
- “You shall be holy, for I the LORD our God am holy.” (Lev. 19:1)
- “I am the LORD…” (Lev. 19:1,4,10,12,14,16,18,25,28,30,31,32,34, 36,37-or similar phrase)
Jesus has answered the man’s question concerning which was the most important command in the Old Testament by saying that it is to love God with all that you are…and that the inevitable result of that love will be a corresponding love for other people. The scribe is impressed with Jesus’ answer and even adds a thought of his own…that to keep the Law in this manner is what is truly meant, not just going through the routines of making offerings and sacrifices. While those things were to be done…they were to be done as a reflection of one’s relationship with God and other people. They didn’t cause the relationship, but were intended to be a visual portrayal of that relationship. Jesus is pleased with the scribes understanding (“intelligently”-means: “the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things”- http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G3563&t=NASB) and tells him that He is “not far from the kingdom of God”. In other words, this man is beginning to understand what God and His kingdom are truly about. Jesus now had the scribes on their heels…they recognized His absolute ability to deal with even their most difficult questions. This shows us again that they were not really interested in discovering truth, but merely in trying to cause Him to say something in error that they could accuse Him of. Just imagine what publicity and attention a scribe would have received if he had been the one that tricked up Jesus…he had been the one who brought this renegade teacher to His knees. We can only imagine the conversations, the plans, the strategies that these scribes tried to devise behind closed doors. But nothing they did was successful. Jesus more than adequately dealt with everything that they attacked Him with.
Mark 12:35-37 Concerning His Deity
Mark 12:35-37-Jesus takes advantage of the moment and asks the religious leaders a question: How is it possible for David to call the Lord, his son? (see February 3, Matthew 22:23-46).
Mark 12:38-40 Concerning Pride
Mark 12:38-40-Jesus warns against the kind of religion that the scribes practice…one which served their own interests, and not those of God. Because they claimed to have a greater knowledge of God, they would be held to a higher level of accountability.
Mark 12:41-44 Concerning Giving
Mark 12:41-44-Jesus sat down across from the treasury and watched as people brought their offerings. He comments on how a widow gave out of her poverty (“two small copper coins, which amount to a cent”…this coin had the least amount of value of all of their coinage)…not as the rest gave out of their surplus. Are we ever guilty of giving God out of our surplus (what we don’t need)…of giving God our leftovers (what we don’t care about)…of giving God our second-best (what we wouldn’t give to others)? Or, is our gift to God an indication of our true love and total dependence on Him?
This word is used to describe the apartments constructed in the courts of the temple, in which not only the sacred offerings and things needful for the service were kept, but this was also where the priests (etc.) resided (cf. Neh 13:7). The sacred treasury, public records, and even the property of widows and orphans were deposited here. Josephus speaks of treasuries in the women’s court of Herod’s temple. In the N.T., the term “near the treasury” seems to be used of that receptacle mentioned by the rabbis to which were fitted thirteen chests or boxes, i.e. trumpets, so called from their shape, and into which were put the contributions made voluntarily or paid yearly by the Jews for the service of the temple and the support of the poor.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to never give my left-overs to You. Help me to give my very best to You.