Mark 12:1-12 Jesus tells the parable about the Tenants where a man (God) planted a vineyard (Israel) and leased it to tenants (Jews). The owner (God) sent his servants (prophets), but one by one, the tenants (Jews) hur then eventually killed one. The owner (God) figured they would respect his son (Jesus), but the tenants killed the owner’s (God’s) son (Jesus) too. The owner (God) took the vineyard (Kingdom) away from the tenants (Jews) and gave it to other tenants (Gentiles or the Church being made up of Jew and Gentile apart from the Nation of Israel). The stone (Jesus) that the builders (Leaders of the Jews) rejected has become the cornerstone (A stone that holds the building together, part of the foundation).
Notes: the inheritance will be ours. The tenants were greedy; because they wanted the entire harvest and the vineyard for themselves and would stop at nothing to achieve that end, they plotted to kill the owner’s son. Because Jesus had achieved such a following, the Jewish leaders believed the only way to maintain their position and power over the people was to kill him.
destroy the tenants. The owner of the vineyard will execute the tenants, thus serving as a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (a.d. 70) and the nation of Israel.
The stone that the builders rejected. Builders typically rejected stones until they found one perfectly straight in lines that could serve as the cornerstone, which was critical to the symmetry and stability of the building. In Jesus’ metaphor, he himself is the stone the builders (the Jewish religious leaders) rejected (crucified). But the resurrected Christ is the cornerstone.
Mark 12:13-17 The religious leaders knew Jesus was speaking about them in the parable, so they sought to to arrest Jesus, but didn’t because the feared the people. Instead, they sent Pharisees and Herodians to test and trap Jesus. They acknowledged Jesus greatness, but trapped Him but asking if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, having prepared an accusation against regardless if Jesus said yes or no. Jesus was wise to their question, and asking them for a coin, said that since Caesar’s image was on the coin, give to Caesar was belongs to him and give to God what belongs to Him.
Notes: A rejection of paying taxes would seem to entail rebellion against Caesar; a willingness to pay taxes appears to compromise devotion to God. Jesus does not discuss the question of whether the current Roman governance is just or unjust, but he does imply that it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. God’s kingdom, however, transcends all of these “things.” Jesus declared that all citizens are under divine obligation to pay taxes to whatever government is over them.
Mark 12:18-27 The Sadducees then came to trap Him on the question for the resurrection, for they didn’t believe in the resurrection or anything supernatural for that matter, although the Pharisees did. They asked Jesus that if there was a resurrection and a woman was married to seven brothers, for each one died and left no offspring, in heaven, whose wife will she be? Jesus rebuked them for not knowing the scriptures. People are not married in heaven, but are like the angels in that regard. Jesus further corrected them by citing scripture that there is a resurrection when God said to Moses at the burning bush, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Not that He was their God). So they are alive and not dead, but waiting for the resurrection.
Notes: Sadducees. The most wealthy, influential, and aristocratic of all the Jewish sects. All the high priests, chief priests, and the majority of the Sanhedrin were Sadducees. They ignored the oral law, traditions, and scribal laws of the Pharisees, viewing only the Pentateuch as authoritative The Sadducees also denied the existence of angels. Believers will be like angels in that they will be spiritual, eternal beings who will not die.
Mark 12:28-34 A scribe then asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment of all. Jesus said to love God with all their heart and soul and mind. The second greatest commandment was to love their neighbor as you love yourself. If you fulfill these two commandments, then you have kept them all. The scribe agreed and said that those commandments were better than sacrifices. Jesus was impressed with the scribe and said that he was very near to the kingdom.
Notes: The rabbis had determined that there were 613 commandments contained in the Pentateuch, one for each letter of the Ten Commandments. Of the 613 commandments, 248 were seen as affirmative and 365 as negative. Those laws were also divided into heavy and light categories, with the heavy laws being more binding than the light ones. The scribes and rabbis, however, had been unable to agree on which were heavy and which were light. This orientation to the law led the Pharisees to think Jesus had devised his own theory. So the Pharisees asked this particular question to get Jesus to incriminate himself by revealing his unorthodox and unilateral beliefs.
not far from the kingdom. Jesus both complemented and challenged the scribe. Jesus acknowledged the scribe’s insight regarding the importance of love. Yet by stating that the scribe was “not far” from the kingdom he emphasized that he was not in the kingdom. He understood the requirements of love, he needed only to love and obey the One who alone could grant him entrance to the kingdom.
Mark 12:35-44 In the temple, Jesus posed a question. Christ is the son of David, but David called the Christ his Lord. How could that be possible? The answer is because the Christ is eternal and existed before David, even though He had not come to earth yet (as a man). Jesus went on to warn the people not to act like the scribes who were proud and show offs when it came to prayer, getting the best seats in the synagogues and honor at feasts. Hidden from the people, these same scribes rob the widows and for pretenses make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation, for they are supposed to be the leaders and teachers, and yet they are more corrupt than the common Jew. Later, they watched rich people putting in large sums of money in the temple treasury and finally a poor widow put in two small copper coins which equal one penny. Jesus said that the widow gave more, because she have all she had, where the rich only gave a portion of their wealth.
Notes: Jesus publicly raises a question that he has already discussed in private with his disciples: who is the Messiah of God—is he essentially the son of David or the Lord of David? Jesus anticipates being exalted to the right hand of God, and thus he far transcends any expectation of a merely political, Davidic messiah. Many scribes seek public recognition by means of their clothing and places of honor. David would not have called one of his descendants “Lord.” Thus the Messiah is more than the “Son of David”—he is also the “Son of God.”