Monday, July 7, 2014

Teaching (Mark 12:35-44)

After the repeated questioning at the hands of the religious professionals, Jesus turns the tables on them. Here in Mark, we have a small collection of some of the teaching Jesus did in the temple in those last days. The first topic is in direct response to the testing that the scribes and Pharisees were dolling out. Jesus asks a question that most would have found obvious at the time. Who would the Messiah be? Everyone knew that the coming Messiah would be a descendant of David’s. Simple. Or, so they thought.

Truth was, they only had a limited knowledge concerning the Messiah. The revelation they had was incomplete, and they were missing subtle clues in the information they did have. Jesus points them to a passage about the Messiah, where David refers to Him as his “Lord.” Not something David would do to an offspring of his. Jesus knew (and demonstrated that He knew) more than those studied religious leaders.

Jesus warns the crowds to not be taken in by religious know-it-alls who use their knowledge and power to control others and carve out special places for themselves. That is never the intention of revelation. People who understand God’s word should use their understanding to help others, not improve their own standing.

Finally, Jesus turns the Jewish interpretation regarding giving to God on its head. (And, if we were honest, He demolishes our own contemporary understanding and teaching on the subject as well.) Jesus compares all of the “big givers” to a simple, poor widow who barely gives at all and concludes that she is the better giver. The reason is that she gives 100% while they give small surpluses in comparison to their great wealth. Jesus’ point? We should give and manage all of our possessions for God. It is all His. We do not get off with a simple 10% temple tax.

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