Jul 14, 2013
Mark 12:35-44

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Scene of Activity

Tuesday Breakdown of Jesus’ Week of Passion:

1. Mark 11:20-26 - As they make the 2 mile walk from Bethany to Jerusalem, Jesus uses the opportunity to teach the disciple the disciples about the withered fig tree.

2. Mark 11:27-12:27 - When Jesus arrives to the temple He’s is ambushed by the religious leaders who challenge Him on His authority, taxes, and the resurrection.

3. Mark 12:28-34 - Jesus is then approached by a Scribe - an honest seeker.

Through these interactions, Jesus has not only effectively handled questions meant to discredit His ministry, but His answers have produced the opposite effect.... The people are more impressed and excited then they were when He arrived two days before.

Now that their questions have ceased, Jesus poses a question of His own.

[Mark 12:35] “Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David?” 

On Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem to the chants of the people proclaiming Him to be the long promised Messiah. The people were convinced Jesus was the Christ.

The questions the religious leaders posed were aimed at toning down this excitement. 

As we mentioned last Sunday, the Messiahship of Jesus, was something these men had a vested interesting in rejecting and discrediting.

To counteract their assertions, Jesus addresses this issue head on for one main reason.

Jesus wanted to insure no one (the people nor the religious leaders) would be able to claim ignorance when they would inevitably reject His Messiahship and crucify Him.  

Jesus’ question “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David?” was designed to address a misconception the people had concerning the Messiah. 

Though the people believed and the religious leaders taught that the Messiah would descend from the lineage of King David (understood by this phrase “Son of David”), they refused to believe the Messiah would possess a divine nature. 

[Mark 12:36] Jesus continues.... “For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” And the common people heard Him gladly.”

To make his point that the Messiah would not simply be a descendent of David, but would also be divine, Jesus quotes from Psalms 110:1 - an accepted Messianic Psalm.

A “Messianic Psalm” was a psalm or part of a psalm that spoke of the Messiah. 

In Jesus’ day they were commonly referred to as the “Royal Psalms.”

Essence of Jesus' Question: If King David referred to the Messiah as being his Lord, shouldn’t we assume David saw the Messiah as more than simply his descendent? 

Jewish culture was based on a family hierarchal system. A son was never perceived to be above his father, and a father would never submit to the authority of a son.

Since the O.T. Scriptures clearly said the Messiah would be a descendent of David, but David referred to this Messianic descendent as being his Lord.... how do you reconcile this obvious cultural abnormality?

Either David was a lesser king than the coming Messiah, or the nature of the Messiah had to be so different that even David recognized the obvious implications.

The only logical conclusion: The Messiah would be a descendent of David, but would also possess a divine nature making Him a greater King than David.

In His statement setting up Psalms 110:1 “For David himself said by the Holy Spirit” Jesus affirms the inspiration of Scripture by the Holy Spirit. 

The authority of the Bible is described as the “Verbal Plenary Inspiration” of God.

Verbal - Scripture contains the exact words, forms, and wording that God desired. 

When the Holy Spirit worked through the various writers of Scripture (40 writing between 1500 B.C. and 100 A.D.) He moved in such a way as to bring about exactly what God wanted to communicate. 

2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness.”

Plenary - All Scripture (Old and New Testament) is equally authoritative. 

Luke 16:17, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”

Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Canonization: The church didn’t pick the books they wanted to include in Scripture, rather they complied the books already accepted and recognized as the authoritative, inspired Word of God.

Note: Jesus quoted or referenced every book in the O.T. canon. 

Inspiration - Every word of Scripture was supernaturally communicated by God through the Biblical authors and their individual personalities to write the exact things God wanted to express.

“Inspiration” - Greek word “theopneustos” - meaning, “God breathed.” 

God didn’t dictate to the authors, rather He inspired the words they wrote.

2 Peter 1:21, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Here’s the biggest hangup for most folks when it comes to the Bible.... 

Though I might accept the inspiration of the originals, how can I trust that the copies haven’t been tampered with over time? 

How can I trust that my Bible’s actually presents the inspired Word of God? 

To answer this question let me explain why you can trust your Bible is God’s Word: 

As with all ancient manuscripts, in order to insure the authenticity of our text, one must compare the consistency of our copy with the earliest copies we’ve discovered. 

Obviously, the key is to have an original to compare with, but when that isn’t possible a large and diverse variety of early manuscripts will prove just a reliable. 

The more we can compare our text with early manuscripts, the more evidence we have to either validate or discredit the authenticity of our current version of Scripture.

Let me compare the N.T. with other works of antiquity: 

Homer’s Iliad 643 Greek copies dating back 500 yrs. from the original.

Aristotle 49 Greek copies dating back 1000 yrs. from the original.

Caesar 10 Greek copies dating back 1000 yrs. from the original. 

Plato 7 Greek copies dating back 1200 yrs. from the original.

New Testament 5600 Greek copies dating back less than 100 yrs. from original.

“John Rylands Fragment” of John’s Gospel dates 29 yrs. from original.

“Chester Beatty Papyrus” of Romans, Hebrews, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians dates 150 yrs. from original.

Rumors abound that a fragmented papyrus of the Gospel of Mark dating back to 80 A.D. has been recently discovered in Egypt.

We should also note there are 19,000 early copies of the N.T. in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages bring the total of N.T. manuscripts to 24,000.

By comparing our Bible with these early fragments we can verify that only 1/1000th of your Bible possesses any kind of textual variation with the earliest known copies. 

Therefore, you can trust that 99.5% of the New Testament and 98.5% of the Old Testament is textually pure (zero substantive errors or contextual anomalies). 

Any attempt to find another work of antiquity even close to this will prove frivolous.

[Mark 12:38-40] “Then Jesus said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

What does Jesus mean by “Beware of the Scribes?”

“Beware” - Greek verb “blepô” meaning “discern with your eye.”

Jesus isn’t saying the Jews were to be afraid of the scribes, but rather He is exhorting them to look, examine, and evaluate who the scribes really were. 

Q: And why would Jesus encourage them to do this?

A: The Scribes were their teachers - their moral, spiritual leaders.

Understand: You have a right and responsibility to evaluate those you allow to teach you God’s Word or those you allow to possess a spiritual influence over you! 

As a matter of fact, Jesus encourages you to do this!

Jesus is literally saying, “Evaluate your teachers and if you see any of the following characteristics in their character you should find another teacher to lead you.” 

In essence, Jesus is saying we should not follow corrupt leaders.

Jesus points out a few things they were to observe concerning the scribes:

1. They “go around in long robes.” 

The Scribes were men of leisure, who watched while others work.

2. They “love greetings in the marketplaces.”

The Scribes loved to have people stroke their spiritual egos.

3. They love “the best seats in the synagogue and the best place at feasts.”

The Scribes loved the “perks” of their status and privilege.

They “devour widow’s houses.”

The Scribes wanted payment from the people - at the expense of the people.

David Guzik, “In that day, a Jewish teacher could not be paid for teaching - but he could receive “gifts.” The Jews of Jesus’ day taught that teachers were to be respected almost as much as God; they said that they deserved more honor and respect than any other people in life. They taught that the greatest act someone could do is give money to a teacher. Of course, it was the teachers themselves who taught this!”

Damien Kyle, “The one thing worse than a thief is a religious thief. The only thing worse than a religious thief is one who preys on the weakest among us.”

5. They “for a pretense make long prayers.” 

Their relationship with God was more show than substance. 

Jesus warns, “These will receive greater condemnation.”

James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

[Mark 12:41-44] “Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

Scene of Activity

After a full day of answering questions and teaching the people, “Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury.”

Entering the temple from the east through the “Beautiful Gate” you’d find three inner courtyards: Court of Women, Court of Israel, Court of Priests. 

From there you’d enter the Holy Place and then the Holy of Holies. 

Between the Women’s Court and the Court of Israel existed 13 large, trumpet-shaped chests where people would come to give their offerings to God.

Each chest had a specific designation for giving: 

Trumpet 1-2 Half-Shekel temple tax.

Trumpet 3 Money for the turtledoves.

Trumpet 4 Money young pigeons.

Trumpet 5 Money for wood for the sacrifices.

Trumpet 6 Money for incense for the altar.

Trumpet 7 Money for golden vessels for temple work.

Trumpet 8 General money offering.

Trumpet 9-13 Miscellaneous offerings.

Jesus “sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people” gave.

Note: Jesus wasn’t interested in how much they gave, but rather how they gave.

And what did Jesus see?

As Jesus is watching (for how long we don’t know) Mark says He observed that “many who were rich put in much,” but it was when “one poor widow came and threw in two mites” that “He called His disciples....”
What Jesus had witnessed was so significant He wanted to make sure to point it out to His disciples (as His disciples this includes you and I as well).

He said to them “this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” 

This phrase “poor widow” indicates 2 important things about this woman:

1. She’s “Poor” - She was completely impoverished.

2. She’s a “Widow” - She was still wearing the clothes of mourning.

Jesus tells the disciples she gave “two mites, which make a quadrans.”

Mite” - Greek word “lepton” - a small brass coin worth about 1/5 a cent.

Quadran” - “Fathering” - was the equivalent of about 3/8 a cent.

Jesus qualifies this by pointing out this poor widow had just “put in all that she had, her whole livelihood,” but that her offering was greater “than all those who have given to the treasury.”

Few Observations about giving we should note from this passage:

Full Disclosure: This is not a money grab by your pastor or some underhanded attempt to bulk up the tithes during a traditionally slow summer month. 

When I close the service by saying “we have no desire to pressure you into tithing and would prefer to leave this as a matter between you and God” I sincerely mean it.

However, I hope you understand I’ve been called by God to faithfully teach His Word expositionally - not topically or thematically. This mean I allow God to communicate to you what He wants when He wants. I don’t cheery pick passages!

As your pastor, if I don’t take a moment to explain this passage with the same honesty and responsibility I do every passage for fear of offending or making someone uncomfortable, then I am doing you a disservice and am not being a faithful servant.

1. Jesus watches when we give to Him of our resources.

The whole scene begins with Jesus sitting across the court watching how people give to God; and it would appear from the text Jesus took note of 2 things:

A. He’s watching the people’s countenance as they give. 

B. He’s observing the amount of each gift.

I believe there are 2 easy implications to this point:
  • The act of giving is an act Jesus takes seriously.

  • Whether we’re rich or poor, we should be giving.

2. Jesus evaluates our gift based more on the heart than the substance.

Note: God doesn’t need your money. If He did Jesus’ reaction would have been the opposite of what it was. In taking the amount of the offering into consideration Jesus would have praised these rich men more than this poor widow. 

Going back to Mark’s observation of Jesus.... He was more interesting in “how” the people were giving than “what” they were giving. 

Reality: As a matter of the heart, giving reveals a person’s love for God.

1. Key component of love is trust! 

Giving forces me to address this core question - “Will I trust that God can do more with less of my income than I can with more?” 

Ultimately, giving is a matter of recognized stewardship!

Because this poor widow was willing to trust God with everything, it revealed an incredible faith in God’s ability to provide for her needs!

2. Another component of love is sacrifice! 

Since love is always connected to sacrifice, you can observe the depth of person’s love by the depth of their sacrifice.

In Jesus’ eyes the size of my offering isn’t based upon the amount of my offering, but is instead based upon the overall sacrifice that comes with my offering (the proportion of the gift as it relates to my overall wealth.)
  • The widow gave a little, but it was her all.

  • The rich gave a lot, but it was “out of their abundance.”

3. Jesus delights when we give our all.

In a temple scene full of things we’d assume would have caught Jesus’ eye (prayer, sacrifices, etc), the one thing He was so jazzed up about that He had to call the disciples over to brag about it was the offering of this poor widow.

This poor widow’s offering to God delighted Jesus because it demonstrated her obedience (the Scriptures were clear the people of God were to give), and it demonstrated her trust that God would provide for her needs; but above all else, her offering revealed a heart for worship!

In Scripture you will find that giving is always presented as a matter of worship; and by definition, worship is always presented as a response to God’s giving. “For God so loved the world that He gave....”