Mark 12#Mr 12:1| CVIII. IN REPLY TO THE QUESTIONS AS TO HIS AUTHORITY, JESUS GIVES THE THIRD GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES. (In the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) C. PARABLE OF THE WICKED HUSBANDMEN. #Mt 21:33-46 Mr 12:1-12 Lu 20:9-19| And he began to speak unto them in parables. See TFG "#Lu 20:9|". A man. This party represents God. Planted a vineyard. This represents the Hebrew nationality. And set a hedge about it, and digged a pit for the winepress. The winepress consisted of two tub-shaped cavities dug in the rock at different levels, the upper being connected with the lower by an orifice cut through from its bottom. Grapes were placed in the upper cavity, or trough, and were trodden by foot. The juice thus squeezed from them ran through the orifice to the trough below, from which it was taken and stored in leather bottles until it fermented and formed wine. And built a tower. A place where watchmen could be stationed to protect the vineyard from thieves as the grapes ripened for the vintage. And let it out to husbandmen. The rulers are here represented; and the rental was, as usual, a part of the fruits. And went into another country. Jesus frequently refers to this withdrawal of the visible presence of God from the world, always bringing out the point that the withdrawal tests faithfulness. God had come down upon Mt. Sinai, given the law and established the Hebrew nation, after which he had withdrawn. That had indeed been a long time ago; and for four hundred years before the appearance of John the Baptist, God had not even sent a messenger to demand fruit. Some think the hedge refers to the manner in which Palestine was protected by sea and desert and mountain, but the hedge and the winepress and the tower are mere parabolic drapery, for every man who planted a vineyard did all three. (TFG 590-591) #Mr 12:2| And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant. That is, the prophets. That he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruits of the vineyard. #Lu 3:8|. He expected the children of Israel to bring forth joy, love, peace, and all the other goodly fruit of a godly life. And he looked to those in authority to bring forth such results, and the prophets were sent to the rulers to encourage them to do this. (TFG 591) #Mr 12:3-5| And they took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. For the treatment of the prophets, see such passages as #1Ki 18:13 22:24-27| #2Ki 6:31 2Ch 24:19-22 36:15,16|. For a summary of the treatment of the prophets or messengers of God, see #Heb 11:35-38|. (TFG 591-592) #Mr 12:6| He had yet one, a beloved son: he sent him last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. The lord of the vineyard was thoroughly perplexed. The conduct of his husbandmen was outrageous beyond all expectation. He had no better servants to send them unless his only son should take upon him the form of a servant and visit them (#Php 2:5-8|). Being tender and forgiving, and unwilling to resort to extreme measures, the lord of the vineyard resolved to thus send his son, feeling sure that the son would represent the person, authority and rights of the father so much better than any other messenger (#Heb 1:1-5 2:1-3|), that it would be well-nigh impossible for the husbandmen to fail of reverence towards him. In striking contrast, however, with this expectation of the Father, the rulers, or the husbandmen, had just now harshly demanded of the Son that he tell by what authority he did anything in the vineyard (#Mr 11:28|). (TFG 592) #Mr 12:7| But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. In thus bringing the story down to the immediate present, and stating a counsel which his enemies had just spoken privately in each other's ears (#Mr 11:18|), Jesus must have startled them greatly. He showed them, too, that those things which made them deem it necessary to kill him were the very things which proved his heirship. They regarded the Jewish nation as their property, and they were plotting to kill Jesus that they might withhold it from him (#Joh 12:19 11:47-50|). That men might hope by such high-handed lawlessness to obtain a title to a vineyard seems incredible to us who have always been familiar with the even-balanced justice of constitutional government; but in the East the looseness of governments, the selfish apathy and lack of public spirit among the people, and the corrupt bribe-receiving habits of the judges makes our Lord's picture even to this day, though rather exceptional, still true to life. At this point Jesus turns from history to prophecy. (TFG 592-593) #Mr 12:8| And they took him, and killed him, and cast him forth out of the vineyard. After two intervening days the Jews would fulfill this detail by thrusting Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem and crucifying him there. (TFG 593) #Mr 12:10,11| The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner. The quotation is from #Ps 118:22,23|, which is here by Jesus applied as a prophecy to the Pharisees, who, in their treatment of him, were like unskilled builders who reject the very corner-stone of the building which they seek to erect. The Pharisees were eager enough in their desire to set up a Messianic kingdom, but were so blindly foolish that they did not see that this kingdom could not be set up unless it rested upon Christ Jesus, its corner-stone. They blundered in constructing their theory of the coming kingdom, and could find no room for one such as Jesus in it. (TFG 594) #Mr 12:12| And they sought to lay hold on him; and they feared the multitude; for they perceived that he spake the parable against them: and they left him, and went away. Despite the warning which Jesus gave them that they were killing the Son and would reap the consequences, and despite the fact that he showed that the Psalm which the people had used so recently with regard to him foretold a great rejection which would prove to be a mistake, see TFG "Mr 11:9" and see TFG "Mr 12:10", yet the rulers persisted in their evil intention to take his life, and were only restrained by fear of the people, many of whom were Galileans, men of rugged courage, ready to draw swords on Jesus' behalf. Since they could neither arrest nor answer him, they withdrew as a committee, but returned again in the person of their spies. (TFG 594-595) #Mr 12:13| CIX. JEWISH RULERS SEEK TO ENSNARE JESUS. (Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) A. PHARISEES AND HERODIANS ASK ABOUT TRIBUTE. #Mt 22:15-22 Mr 12:13-17 Lu 20:20-26| They send unto him certain of the Pharisees. See TFG "#Mt 3:7|". And of the Herodians, that they might catch him in talk. Perceiving that Jesus, when on his guard, was too wise for them, the Pharisees thought it best to speak their cunning through the mouths of their young disciples, whose youth and apparent desire to know the truth would, according to their calculation, take Jesus off his guard. Having no ancient statement giving us the tenets or principles of the Herodians, we are left to judge them solely by their name, which shows that they were partisans of Herod Antipas. Whether they were out-and-out supporters of the Roman government, or whether they clung to Herod as one whose intervening sovereignty saved them from the worse fate of being directly under a Roman procurator (as Judaea and Samaria then were), would not, as some suppose, affect their views as to the payment of tribute. If they accepted Herod merely for policy's sake, policy would also compel them to favor the tribute, for Antipas, being appointed by Rome, would have to favor the tribute, and could count none as his adherents who opposed it. (TFG 597-598) #Mr 12:14| Teacher, we know that thou art true, and carest not for any one; for thou regardest not the person of men, but of a truth teachest the way of God. The meaning of their preface is this: "We see that neither fear nor respect for the Pharisees or the rulers prevents you from speaking the plain, disagreeable truth; and we are persuaded that your courage and love of truth will lead you to speak the same way in political matters, and that you will not be deterred therefrom by any fear or reverence for Caesar." Fearless loyalty to truth is indeed one of the noblest attributes of man. But instead of honoring this most admirable quality in Jesus, these hardened reprobates were endeavoring to employ it as an instrument for his destruction. Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? The Jews were required to pay annually a large sum of money to the Roman government as an acknowledgment of their subjection. About twenty years before this Judas of Galilee had stirred up the people to resist this tribute, and the mass of the Jews was bitterly opposed to it. To decide in favor of this tribute was therefore to alienate the affection and confidence of the throng in the temple who stood listening to him--an end most desirable to the Pharisees. If, on the other hand, Jesus said that the tribute should not be paid, the Herodians were present to hear it, and would be witnesses sanctioned by Herod, and therefore such as Pilate would be compelled to respect. What but divine wisdom could escape from so cunningly devised a dilemma! (TFG 598-599) #Mr 12:15| But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why make ye trial of me? Thus, before answering, Jesus exposes the meanness and hypocrisy in their question, thereby emphasizing the important fact that he did not dodge, but answered it. Bring me a denarius, that I may see it. Religious dues and tributes had been paid in shekels or old Jewish coin, but the tribute to Rome was paid in Roman coin of which the denarius was a sample. See TFG "#Mr 6:37|". (TFG 599) #Mr 12:16| Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. The little silver coin had the head of the emperor stamped upon it, and the superscription TICAESARDIVIAVGFAVGVSTVS, which stands for the words Tiberias Caesar, Divi Augusti Filius Augustus; that is, Tiberius Caesar, the August Son of the Divine Augustus. (TFG 599) #Mr 12:17| Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. Each nation uses its own coin. Had the Jews not been under Roman sovereignty, they would not have been using Roman money; but the coin which they brought to Jesus bore witness against them that the Roman sovereignty was established in their land, and that tribute to it was therefore justly due; for whoso uses Caesar's coin must pay Caesar's tribute. This part of the answer satisfied the Herodians; and the last part "and unto God," etc., satisfied the people, for it asserted, in a manner which carried conviction with it, that the payment of enforced tribute was not inconsistent with maintaining complete allegiance of God. God was no longer, as of old, the civil ruler of his people, and hence the payment of tribute to a temporal sovereign is in no sense incompatible with his service, but is enjoined as a Christian duty (#Ro 13:1,7|). And they marvelled greatly at him. They were amazed to find how far his wisdom transcended that of the teachers in whom they had such supreme confidence. (TFG 599-600) #Mr 12:18| CIX. JEWISH RULERS SEEK TO ENSNARE JESUS. (Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) B. SADDUCEES ASK ABOUT THE RESURRECTION. #Mt 22:23-33 Mr 12:18-27 Lu 20:27-39| Sadducees. As to Sadducees, see TFG "Mt 3:7". We may regard their attitude toward Christ as expressed by their leader Caiaphas, see TFG "Joh 11:49". (TFG 600) #Mr 12:19| If a man's brother die, and leave a wife behind him, and leave no child, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. See #De 25:5,6|. The object of this law was to preserve families. But the custom was older than the law (#Ge 38:6-11|). (TFG 600) #Mr 12:23| In the resurrection whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. This was evidently a favorite Sadducean argument against the resurrection. On the assumption that the marital state is continued after the resurrection, it makes the doctrine of a resurrection appear ridiculous, because, seemingly, it involves difficulties which even brothers could hardly settle amicably, and which even God would have in a sense to settle arbitrarily. (TFG 601) #Mr 12:24| Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God? The relevancy of these statements will be discussed in the treatment of #Mr 12:26|. See TFG "#Mr 12:26|". (TFG 601) #Mr 12:25| For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as angels in heaven. This favorite argument of the Sadducees could not be successfully answered by the Pharisees because they could not refute the assumption that marriage is continued in the future world. But Jesus does refute it on his own authority. (TFG 601) #Mr 12:26| But as touching the dead, that they are raised: have ye not read in the book of Moses how God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? The disbelief of the Sadducees manifested itself in a triple form, for they denied the resurrection and the existence of angels and spirits (#Ac 23:8|), but the basal principle of their infidelity was the denial of spirits. It was, as it were, the tree trunk from which their other errors sprang as branches. If there were such things as spirits, it was not worth while to deny that there was an order of them known as angels. If man had a spirit which could survive his body, it was reasonable to believe that God, having so fashioned him that a body is essential to his activity and happiness, would in some manner restore a body to him. Jesus therefore does not pursue the argument until he has "proved a resurrection"; but rests when he has proved that man has a spirit. Jesus proves that man has a spirit by a reference from the Pentateuch, that part of Scripture which the Sadducees accepted as derived from God through Moses. The reference (#Ex 3:6|) shows that God was spoken of and spoke of himself as the God of those who were, humanly speaking, long since dead. But the Sadducees held that a dead man had ceased to exist, that he had vanished to nothingness. According to their view, therefore, God had styled himself the God of nothing, which is absurd. (TFG 602) #Mr 12:27| He is not the God of the dead, but of the living: ye do greatly err. The Sadducees could not thus have erred had they known or understood the significance of this Scripture, and they could not have doubted the resurrection had they known the absolute power with which God deals with material such as that of which the body is formed. See #Mr 12:24|. (TFG 602) #Mr 12:28| CIX. JEWISH RULERS SEEK TO ENSNARE JESUS. (Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) C. A LAWYER ASKS ABOUT THE GREAT COMMANDMENT. #Mt 22:34-40 Mr 12:28-34 Lu 20:40| One of the scribes came. He was evidently deputed by those who counseled to ask this question. What commandment is the first of all? According to the statement of Jewish writers, there had been an old and interminable dispute among the rabbis as to which was the greatest commandment. Some held that it was the law which commanded sacrifices (#Nu 28:3|); others, that which commanded the wearing of phylacteries (#Nu 15:38,39 De 22:12|); others contended for those about purification (#Le 10:10|, etc.); others, for those about the great feasts (#Ex 12:15-18|, etc.). But as they reckoned the commandments of Moses as numbering over six hundred, there was plenty of room for argument. On this memorable day the answers of Jesus had hitherto been of such a nature as to put his questioners to silence. Therefore, in asking this question, they hoped to get an answer about which they could at least find room to wrangle, and thus discredit the wisdom of Jesus. (TFG 603) #Mr 12:29,30| The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one, etc. See #De 6:4-9|. This command is first because it is the foundation of the entire law of God. It is greatest (#Mt 22:38|), because, in a sense, it includes all the other laws. Polytheism, atheism, idolatry, and all sins against God are forbidden by it. All sins against man are likewise, in a sense, prohibited by it; for sin against man is sin against God's image, and against the objects of God's love. Those who truly love God can not consistently sin against man (#1Jo 4:20|). (TFG 603-604) #Mr 12:30| And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. See #De 6:5|. The curious may make metaphysical distinctions in the analysis of this required fourfold love, but the sum of it is that we are to love God with our whole being. (TFG 604) #Mr 12:31| The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. See #Le 19:18|. Love is the cure for sin, for we can not sin against those whom we truly love. Where we love, we desire to bless. But sin always carries with it a willingness to injure or to curse. There is none other commandment greater than these. The generic nature of the law of love is also noted by Paul (#Ro 13:8-10|); but love without law is not sufficient. Love begets a desire to bless, but the law guides to the accomplishment of that desire. Perfect righteousness is the result of wisdom as well as affection. Love without law is power without direction, and law without love is machinery without a motor (#1Co 13:1-3|). (TFG 604) #Mr 12:32,33| Of a truth, Teacher, thou hast well said that he is one; and there is none other but he, etc. Here, as in the preceding subdivision (see TFG "Lu 20:39"), the answer of Jesus was so clearly right that it enforced admiration. (TFG 604) #Mr 12:34| Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. Prejudice is the great obstacle to entering the kingdom. In proportion as we overcome it we draw near to God. And no man after that durst ask him any question. They found it expedient to keep silence when their questions only exposed their own shallowness, and made more conspicuous the supreme wisdom of Jesus. (TFG 604) #Mr 12:35| CIX. JEWISH RULERS SEEK TO ENSNARE JESUS. (Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) D. JESUS' QUESTION WHICH NONE COULD ANSWER. #Mt 22:41-46 Mr 12:35-37 Lu 20:41-44| How say the scribes that the Christ is the Son of David? They had questioned him seeking to expose his lack of wisdom, but the question of Jesus was devoid of retaliation. It was asked to teach a most important lesson. See TFG "#Mt 22:42|". (TFG 605) #Mr 12:36| For David himself said in the Holy Spirit, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. The quotation is from #Ps 110:1|. This Psalm speaks of the Messiah as the Lord of David, and other Scriptures call him David's son. The context here shows that the rabbis of that day accepted this Psalm as written by David and as Messianic in meaning. Since then the Jews have denied that the Psalm is Messianic, and that it was written by David; some saying that Abraham, and others that Hezekiah, wrote it. So also the Scriptures describe Christ as conquering yet suffering, as divine yet human, as dying yet living, as judged yet judging, etc. The Jewish rulers seem able to grasp only one side of the character of Christ as revealed either in his life or in the Scriptures, and hence they stumbled. (TFG 605-606) #Mr 12:37| And the common people heard him gladly. By all their questioning, the Jews had not been able to weaken public confidence in Christ. (TFG 606) #Mr 12:38| CX. JESUS' LAST DISCOURSE. DENUNCIATION OF SCRIBES AND PHARISEES. (In the court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) #Mt 23:1-39 Mr 12:38-40 Lu 20:45-47| Beware of the scribes. See TFG "#Mt 23:2|". Who desire to walk in long robes. This robe was a professional dress, as marked as that worn by priests and kings. It showed that its wearer was professionally religious. And to have salutations in the marketplaces. See TFG "#Lu 11:43|". (TFG 607) #Mr 12:39| And chief seats in the synagogues. See TFG "#Lu 11:43|". And chief places at feasts. See TFG "#Lu 14:7|". #Mr 12:40| They that devour widows' houses. It is doubtful in what way the Pharisees devoured widows' houses, or property. Godet suggests that they extorted presents under pretense of interceding for them in their prayers, and Lightfoot thinks that they got the goods of widows "by subtle attractives," and by the management of their estates as judges, and as men acquainted with the law and therefore fit to administer estates. As to the particular blackness of the crime of robbing widows, see #Ex 22:22-24 De 27:19|. And for a pretence make long prayers. According to the later rabbinical teaching it is urged that a rabbi should pray one hour, and that he should meditate for an hour before and an hour after prayer. On days when they carried out this rule and the other rule which required three seasons of prayer a day, they would spend nine hours in prayer. But this was no doubt one of the cases where they said and did not (#Mt 23:3|). These shall receive greater condemnation. For thus making their religion a cloak for their vices they would be more severely punished. (TFG 607-608) #Mr 12:41| CXI. OBSERVING THE OFFERINGS AND WIDOW'S MITES. (In the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A.D. 30.) #Mr 12:41-44 Lu 21:1-4| And he sat down over against the treasury. It is said that in the court of the women there were cloisters or porticos, and under the shelter of these were placed thirteen chests with trumpet-shaped mouths into which offerings might be dropped. The money cast in was for the benefit of the Temple. An inscription on each chest showed to which one of the thirteen special items of cost or expenditure the contents would be devoted; as, for the purchase of wood, or gold, or frankincense, etc. And beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury. We should remember this calm inspection of our Lord when we are about to make an offering to his work. He is by no means indifferent as to our actions. (TFG 611-612) #Mr 12:42| And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. The lepton or mite was worth one-fifth of a cent. It was a Greek coin, and the kodrantes or farthing was a Roman coin. It is suggested that she might have retained one of the coins, since she had two. (TFG 612) #Mr 12:43| And he called unto him his disciples. He had found an object lesson which he wished them to see. This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury. We are disposed to measure the value of actions quantitatively rather than qualitatively. Moreover, we are better judges of actions than of motives, and can see the outward conduct much clearer than the inward character. God, therefore, in his word, constantly teaches us that he looks rather upon the inward than the outward. (TFG 612) #Mr 12:44| But she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. In this case, the value of the woman's gift was measured, not by quantity, but its quality; in quantity it was two mites, in quality it was the gift of all she had. From considering the corrupt character of the Pharisees, Jesus must have turned with pleasure to look upon the beautiful heart of this devout widow. (TFG 612)
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