Six of us met together to read and discuss Mark Chapter 12. Some find it difficult to stick to the rule that we only refer to what we’ve already read. Because the gospel of Mark is the only book we have looked at so far, there’s limited scope for calling upon other parts of the Bible to help us to understand points arising from the chapter under discussion. We all agree though, that if we move around the Bible it’s easy to explore other avenues which could detract from the wealth of information contained in the chosen chapter. Also if somebody joins us who is new to Bible study, we will need to help them see how the scriptures speak for themselves. We can arrange deeper Bible study for anyone who requests it.
There’s plenty to discuss in Mark Chapter 12. In Mark 12:1-11, Jesus tells a parable about the tenants of a vineyard who attacked the owner’s servants when they came for some of the fruit. More servants were sent. Several were ill treated or killed, so the owner sent his son. He expected the tenants to respect his son, but they killed him. So the owner killed the tenants and gave the vineyard to others. Then Jesus reminds his listeners of some words in the Old Testament which seem to refer to Jesus Christ.
Looking back at the previous chapter, we read in Mark 11:27, that the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law had joined the crowd and were questioning him. It appeared to us that this group of Jewish rulers were still amongst the crowd and they were to ones who wanted to lay hands on Jesus in Mark 12:12. They realised that Jesus’ parable was about the Jews, they wanted to arrest him but were afraid of the people.
Mark 12:13 tells how Pharisees and Herodians were sent to try and catch Jesus out. They asked him about paying tribute to Caesar. Jesus answered in a way that left them unable to respond.
Mark 12:18, some Sadducees, another branch of Jewish leaders tried more trick questions, which Jesus again answered in a way which left the people astounded by his Knowledge of the law and his ability to answer those in authority in a way that confounded their argument. Finally a Scribe appears and asked Jesus which of Gods commandments is the most important.
Mark 12:29-31, Jesus gave his reply for which, in Mark 12:32-33 the Scribe commended him. Jesus’ commented that the scribe was “not far from the Kingdom of God.” After this, nobody tried to catch Jesus out.
Mark 12:38 shows Jesus warning the people about the Scribes’ hypocritical attitude and their tendency to revel in their position. In Mark 12:42, a poor widow came onto the scene. She threw two small coins into the treasury. Jesus made the comment in Mark 12:43-44, that this woman gave more than all of the rich people, because those two coins were all she had to live on.
We compared the attitude of most of the Jewish leaders, with that of the Scribe and the poor widow. The most important commandment for all time is:
“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your mind and all your strength. Love your neighbour as yourself.”