Mark 12 gives us another view of some of the parables that Jesus taught, and His interaction with the religious leader’s attempts to trap Him. Their motives were evident: “to trap Him in His talk”. Words matter and how we respond and answer is important to consider. People do try and get us to say things that are inconsistent with the way we live or act. The leaders knew that Jesus was “true and does not care about anyone’s opinion….you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God”. Does that describe the way you live? Do you stay true to the truth without regard to what people think of you? Or are you swayed and water down the truth so it isn’t quite so abrupt and sharp? Sometimes that is our tendency – to take the edge off the message of truth so it is easier to receive. We allow what people around us think to cause us to adjust what we say and how we act. We don’t want to offend them after all. Right? That isn’t how Jesus taught. With Him it was straight truth all the time. Never watered down or sugar coated. Just the truth. I love how He deals with the religious leaders when they ask the questions about the seven brothers. “Have you not read in the book of Moses”? C’mon people – God has already written the answer to your question in His Word. Don’t you read the Book? “He is not God of the dead, but the living”. Jesus teaches so matter of factly and makes it so obvious to those who question Him just what scripture says.
One of the religious leaders asked the question about the greatest commandments. After Jesus answers He says to him “you are not far from the Kingdom of God”. Jesus knows this guy has the head knowledge, but it hasn’t yet made it to his heart. That is the longest foot in life – the time it takes to move our head knowledge of the Savior to become part of our heart – where we make it our own and receive God’s gift of salvation by grace. The religious leaders are described by Jesus this way:
- “Walk around in long robes
- Like greetings in the marketplaces
- Have the best seates in the synagogues
- Places of honor at feasts
- Devour widows houses
- Make long prayers”
Does the word “show” come to mind here? It is all about the show. They want to be seen and put in a place above others. Not Jesus’ way at all. He ends with the story of the widow who “came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny”. Hardly worth the time to drop them in the offering box, right? Not in God’s economy. Giving is not about the amount – it is about the motive and the heart. Jesus says it this way: “the poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box….they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had to live on”. Do you see the difference? Most give from their abundance, few from their heart. How do you give to God? He gave it all to you – it all belongs to Him. Do you give til it hurts? Or just what is in excess? He knows our heart. It matters how we give!