Rules of social etiquette – by Jesus.

Rules of social etiquette – by Jesus.

Mark 12: 38-40 “As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

They like to walk around in flowing robes.

Jesus said stop trying to be noticed.

They like to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces.

Jesus said stop trying to be someone.

They like to have the most important seats in the synagogues

Jesus said stop trying to be important.

They like to have the places of honour at banquets.

Jesus said stop trying to be popular.

They devour widows’ houses

Jesus said stop trying to deceive and defraud.

They like to make a show with lengthy prayers.

Jesus said stop trying to impress.

 

There are no rewards for such attempts. What rewards they get will be taken from them. In the end they will only have regret.

Who is Jesus?

Who is Jesus?

Mark 12: 35-37

“While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 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.”’ 37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” The large crowd listened to him with delight.”

Within the question lies the answer.

Jesus is revealing that he is more than human. He is not just the son of David which everyone knew as his genealogy but that He is Lord, He is Divine. No father calls his son ‘Lord’ so why did David do this?

Apostle Peter knew as he quotes this same text in Psalm 110 in Acts 2:34.

Peter shows how David was prophesying of the coming of Christ. Let me write it like this: David writes, “God said to my Christ, “Sit at my right hand …”

God said to David’s Lord (Jesus).

David was prophesying of the Christ to come. He knew He would be Divine.

Jesus asks the question and the answer lies within that question. He knew who he was and chose the last few days before his crucifixion to reveal it.

Peter knew.

Acknowledge again today the Lordship of Christ.

The position of Christ indicates His authority and His power.
The Bible refers to the right hand as a place of refuge and protection. A place where blessing is declared. A place of intercession. Where authority over all powers is established.
And where is Jesus? At the right hand. Therefore, Jesus is God.

Because Jesus is at God’s right hand then there is nothing you are facing today that He cannot help you through.
Call upon God’s right hand today to move in your life.

Love gets you into the kingdom of God.

Love gets you into the kingdom of God.

Mark 12: 32-34 “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 neighbour 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.”

This teacher of the law had heard Jesus give a good answer to a trick-question regarding the resurrection. He comes with his own question but this isn’t to try to trap Jesus. It is an interesting one because the answer is obvious for a Jew, it is the Shema and everyone knew this. But the man was hoping for something more. Jesus gave it to him by adding a second commandment. Then elevates the 2 commandments to the highest command an individual can do.

What does this mean?

  • The vertical relationship is expressed in the horizontal relationship. You cannot separate your worship of God and how you relate to others.
  • Nothing is greater than the commands to love. All the other great things we can do in life are secondary.
  • Exclusivity is pride that needs to be broken. Whether a person desires to be apart from God or apart from others believing that they can do it ‘my way’ they are intrinsically wrong.
  • Whatever you long for, long for it for your neighbour. Whatever you seek then also give. If it is food then long to make sure no one goes hungry. If it is a house then have a heart for the homeless. The list goes on.
  • Let love for yourself be first transformed and fulfilled in the One who gives life abundantly and who satisfies the heart, soul and mind. Then from this place love others with the same love that transformed your self-love.

 

The teacher of the law agreed and said that all of this was more important than the sacrificial worship within the Temple. It was wisdom according to Jesus and he wasn’t far from the kingdom. But he was still outside. He wasn’t far because the One person who could bring him into the kingdom is the One who he is speaking to and who he needs to follow. We don’t know what happens to this man. Does he realise that all the law and prophets hang on these 2 commandments? Does he realise that Jesus came to fulfil the law? Does he come to know there is only one way to the Father through Jesus? If he came to know that and was transformed by the power of God’s love immersing into his self-love then he would be loving others with that same love and he would not be far anymore, he would be in the kingdom of God!

 

 

Shema

Shema

Mark 12: 28-31

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 neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Every Jew knew it and they still do.

So we are not surprised that Jesus, being Jewish has this answer to what is the greatest commandment.

The Shema: Deuteronomy 6:4-9

It’s the first passage children recite. It is prayed twice a day and at the end of festivals.

It starts with the word Shema = Listen or Hear.

Understand, consider, allow the words to sink in and then decide to do something with them.

Those words are that the Lord is one. So resist idolatry. Only worship the Lord nothing else. Love God alone. Don’t give your allegiance to other gods and idols that demand your time and energy. God deserves your best, your total love. This love is not emotional only but it is an action word that demands loyalty and faithfulness. Love needs action for it to be love.

Moses continues in Deuteronomy with laws based on our love for God. These laws which were primarily about order within community were not trying to earn God’s favour but a demonstration of our love for Him.

That’s why Jesus said the second important commandment is to love others.

So the shema is a worship prayer of declaring there is only one God for you and He is God alone. It is also a worship prayer of commitment that you will demonstrate your love for Him by your love for others.

Shema, it’s worth a memorisation.

GOD IS BIGGER

GOD IS BIGGER

Mark 12: 18-27 “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 raise up offspring 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[c]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 burning 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 Message translation says, “Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works.”

Another attempt at trapping Jesus, this time from a different sect, the Sadducees. They obviously didn’t believe in the resurrection. They didn’t believe in much actually. Nothing of the spirit realm. They didn’t hold to any oral tradition of passing down the teachings. It had to be the written law of Moses only.

So for them to come to and ask about resurrection is ridiculous. Ignore what they said, whether it be a created or actual story. Why did they come up with what they thought was an impossible puzzle to solve?

If Jesus was unable to answer he might have backed down on his belief of the resurrection and then he would be supporting them and against the Pharisees who they hated for believing in it.

If Jesus said he didn’t know whose wife she would be or if he named the husband then it would make him look foolish amongst the people.

They were not ready for the answer!

The answers of Jesus seem to go deeper than the question, to the heart and character of the one asking.

Jesus exposed these well-known Bible people as people who didn’t know their Bibles! “You do not know the Scriptures.”

Lesson: YOU DISPLAY YOU ARE BIBLE BELIEVERS BUT YOU ARE NOT BIBLE READERS.

Jesus exposed these people of God as people who didn’t know Him. They were not interested in whether there was marriage in heaven it was about the resurrection.

Jesus uses Exodus 3:6 when he states that God didn’t say to Moses I was the God of Abraham … but I am. Abraham is still alive. God is God of the living not the dead.

Lesson: YOU WORSHIP GOD BUT YOUR IMAGE OF GOD IS TOO SMALL.

The point is that Jesus is saying you are not who you proclaim to be.

You only hold to the Law of Moses (the first 5 books of the OT) but resurrection is clearly in there but you cannot see it. God is powerful, able and alive but you do not know Him.

GOD IS BIGGER. BIGGER THAN YOU. BIGGER THAN YOUR BELIEF.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surrender to the image

Surrender to the image

Mark 12: 15-17

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 image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. 17 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at him.

 

What will Jesus say?

“Give your taxes to Caesar” and the Jewish crowd of followers would have walked away from him.

“Don’t give to Caesar the taxes” and the Romans would have stepped in and he would have been in danger of sedition.

Jesus asks for a coin on which the image of Caesar was printed on each of them. They belonged to Caesar.

“Give Caesar’s coins to Caesar and give to God what is God’s”. That is his answer.

And suddenly the point is actually not about Caesar, but it is God.

Where is the image of God? Everyone knew they had been created in the image of God. Stamped on their hearts was God’s image. So Jesus calls them to surrender their hearts to the one whose image is all over them. He still calls us to do that today.

And they were amazed! As we are!

3 questions to ask when feeling trapped by a question!

3 questions to ask when feeling trapped by a question!

Mark 12: 13-17

“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 that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, 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 the imperial tax 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 image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied.17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.”

3 questions to ask when feeling trapped by a question!

Have you ever been pushed into a corner with a question which was more of an accusation than a desire to learn from you?

Do you have experiences of leading questions? Questions that are trying to gently lead you to answer in a certain way.

Do you have experiences of loaded questions? Questions that are based on lies or presumptions.

How do we get through those difficult moments?

  1. Who is asking the question?

The Pharisees bring the Herodians to Jesus to ask the questions. As its name suggests, the Herodians were a sect of the Jews who supported Herod and Caesar, even thinking that Herod was the promised Messiah. Standing before Jesus are 2 opposite groups of people who do not believe nor do they follow him. There is no relationship at all. Before Jesus hears the question he knows they are here to entrap him.

  1. What is the pre-fix?

Before they ask the question they try to lull Jesus into their trust. They do this by recognition of title and acknowledging his work. They try flattery. Praise is important to us but it can be dangerous.

They call him Master, Teacher or Rabbi. They praise him for keeping true to God’s word and not pandering to man. They didn’t believe either of these statements.

  1. Why are they asking the question?

They want to place Jesus into the hands of angry Jews who hated Rome and would turn their backs on anyone who suggests supporting it or they want to put him in danger with the Romans for sedition against Caesar. In fact later we will see that one of the many accusations taking Jesus to the cross was that he opposed to paying taxes to Caesar and that he was claiming to be king not Caesar. The early church would face persecution for not bowing to Caesar in worship. So this is why they ask the question.

Before you ask the question, ask Who, What and Why?

The authority of Jesus

The authority of Jesus

Mark 12: 1 – 12 “Jesus 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 moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ “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. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes’?” 12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders 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.”

On the back of the conversation regarding the authority of Jesus and the question which wasn’t answered, “John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Jesus tells a parable.

It couldn’t be more obvious other than naming the names. The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders responded in the only way they knew. They wanted to get rid of Jesus. They had the opportunity to change but they didn’t. In fact they did exactly what the parable said they would do.

The apostle Peter used this parable in his speech in Acts 4 when he was accused with John of causing a near-riot for healing a man. He was clear on who represented who in the parable:

  • the stone is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
  • the builders are the rulers of the people and elders.
  • the rejection of the stone was the crucifixion of Jesus.
  • the elevation of the stone to the capstone was the resurrection of Jesus.
  • the implication of this new position at the head is that there is salvation in no other.

 

This parable takes us back to the main point of the argument that the religious leaders had with Jesus, the question of his authority. Jesus is clear, using Psalm 118, the rejected stone becomes the chief stone, the final authority. He would end his time on earth with such statements as “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

For Peter, there was no other name given by which we can be saved.

For Paul, this name is above every other name.

For the Psalmist, the elevated name is marvellous in their eyes.

For the priests, the name is to be rejected and removed.

For us?

TPT of Psalm 118: 22-24 “The very stone the masons rejected as flawed has turned out to be the most important capstone of the arch, holding up the very house of God. 23 The Lord himself is the one who has done this, and it’s so amazing, so marvellous to see! 24 This is the very day of the Lord that brings gladness and joy, filling our hearts with glee.”

Jesus is the most important. How can we not bow our knee every single day of our life?

Do not reject what God is doing in your life right now, instead let Him take the final authority, submit to Him.

The authority of Jesus

The authority of Jesus

Mark 11: 27 – 33 “They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” 29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” 31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) 33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

The response of Jesus was masterful. If John the Baptist’s ministry was from God then that would indicate where the authority of Jesus came from who is “more powerful than I” (Mark 1:7) But they had rejected John. If John the Baptist’s ministry was not from God then all the people who had accepted him as a prophet would turn on these religious leaders. They were caught. People who are caught usually say “I don’t know.”

The questions came as Jesus was walking through the Temple. The building work had begun under Herod the Great approximately 45 years ago at the time of Jesus walking through the courts that day. It would be approximately another 30yrs before it was finished and it would stand for 7 years before being flattened by Titus in AD70.

The questions came from the Chief Priests, teachers of the law and the elders. They are the ones who interpret what Moses taught, they are the intermediaries between man and what God desires and demands. They are at the top of their careers. There are many who want to be in their position. They are the authority.

The questions come for a reason. Jesus had entered the Temple the previous day and caused havoc. They had lost money that day. Jesus had prevented people carrying their offerings and goods in and out of the Temple, he had effectively shut down the worship.

I am painting the picture of the battle of authority. Can you see it?

Mark (who is widely-known to have documented the teachings of Peter) is writing post-resurrection and he is clear. He knows who wins the battle. He knows where the authority of Jesus lies. He began his gospel with, “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” He ends his gospel with Jesus ascending into heaven and sitting at the right hand of God.

There is still a battle of authority today.

Jesus is more than your best friend who walks with you like a brother.

He is the Holy One of God according to the evil spirits quaking in His presence (1:24).

He is the forgiver of sins which only God can do (2:7).

He described himself as Daniel’s authoritative Messiah title, Son of Man (2:28).

He built a team and gave them the ability and authority to do what He was doing (6:7).

He feeds 5,000 and then 4,000 and He walks on water (chapters 6 and 8).

He is transfigured on the mountain into His divinity and disciples here “This is my Son” from a descended cloud (9:7).

And then He enters Jerusalem and demonstrates authority which leads to the question.

So we are faced with this question today, the same question. The authority of Jesus. What is it? Where does it come from?

What do you say?

It seems to me that many want to hold his hand but not bow their knee. Many want the benefits of Jesus but not the surrender. What do we say?

If Jesus is who people like Mark says He is then it matters not how we feel, nor our circumstances that we go through, nothing absolutely nothing justifies us not surrendering our lives to Him. The only position is the bended knee.

Churches that fall-out over whose authority is higher, who is right and wrong, are churches that have not recognised the highest authority in the universe.

Christians that hurt others are people who are not kneeling before the throne but sitting on it.

I want to see the authority of Jesus brought back into the Church. We need a move of God throughout the nation. We need the outpouring of His glory. Our position regarding His authority will create the stage for that move.

Fig trees and mountains need faith and forgiveness.

Fig trees and mountains need faith and forgiveness.

Mark 11: 20-25 “In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Withering fig trees and moving mountains are possible through faith and forgiveness.

Today the Church will again work with people’s need for salvation and demonstrate the dangers of rejecting Jesus (the withered fig tree).

Today the Church will work with people with insurmountable problems in their lives (moving mountains).

Both are needed, one carries a future threat and the other a present possibility. If you only focus on the fig tree curse then Church becomes heavy in its talk of judgment and threat of eternity. If you only focus on moving mountains then the Church becomes a social action group.

Both operate through prayer, an alignment with God where not only requests are made but you hear what He is wanting to do.

The success of the Church is dependent on faith and forgiveness.

Simply put: Do you believe God can and will? Do you have unforgiveness in your heart?

Perhaps right now you can answer those 2 questions in case you meet a fig tree or a mountain.