Continuing our Gospel of Mark series with Part 9, Pastors Lauren and Chris share about Mark chapters 11, 12 & 13. It starts with Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey or what we know and understand as Palm Sunday that we celebrate the beginning of Passion week the Sunday before Easter. This is the final 3 months or so of Jesus being on Earth. During these last few moments on earth are Jesus’s death, His resurrection and His ascension into Heaven where Jesus is today. So from Jesus perspective this is it.
These are some of the final moments that He is going to have with His disciples, with all of the followers and even with the Pharisees. We start seeing some final teachings from Jesus. He goes in a clears the Temple again. After doing it the first time as recorded in John chapter 2. Jesus teaches the disciples more about the power of prayer with the example of the fig tree. He teaches on integrity and money. Christ teaches about remaining watchful and His future and Jesus return.
But right in the middle of chapter 12 we have this scene of the religious leaders and phrases trying to trick Jesus in verse 28. Mark 12:28-31, “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?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus right here outlines the greatest commandments in all of the bible. Specifically references from the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Which of both the religious leaders would have known from their study and education. And this is where we at TRC get our phrase that you heard often: Love God & Love Others. All of the law in the OT and the teachings of Jesus are summarized in these 5 words. But check how the religious teacher responds to what Jesus just said.
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. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 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.”
The religious dude here is starting to get it. Jesus says you are so close to fully understanding. We don’t know what happens to this guy but what we do know right now is that even through he is close, he still is not fully there. But Jesus tells him, you are headed in the right direction. You get the OT law and the Love for God. You are understanding that the love for others is more than just religious acts. There must be action and heart behind the loving others.
Salvation is not based upon intellectual knowledge alone. You must repent, Follow Jesus, and be made a new person by His Holy Spirit. And I think what Jesus is saying here with his response. Don’t settle for close. Don’t be content with almost there. Take the next step and make the “full, all-in” commitment to Jesus. Love God & Love Others!
- Do you think there was anything wrong with the people hoping for a king that would come deliver them?
- If you were there, how do you think you would have reacted?
- How does Jesus’s response to the widow’s miniscule offering reflect his perspective on power?
- What is he condemning?
- Are we truly following Jesus?
- Or are we only Christians when it’s convenient?
- Describe a time you have needed the right words to defend your faith.
- What happened?
- Are you ready for Jesus’s return?
- Are you living like he could return tomorrow? If not, why?