Mark 12

Mark 12 has Jesus telling a parable about the owner of a vineyard and how the workers continually beat or killed the people that the owner sent to get some of the production thinking they would just keep it all for themselves.  It was a parable about the way the religious leaders responded to God’s messengers – the prophets and leaders He anointed and sent – who for centuries had been mistreated by those who claimed power in the synagogue.  Jesus makes it pretty clear, and they almost get it.  “And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them”.  Not the quickest bunch in the world, but they are starting to catch on.

The religious leaders come and ask Jesus what the most important commandment is.  “Which commandment is the most important of all”?  There’s quite a bit of scripture out there, but Jesus doesn’t hesitate at all.  “The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”.  What’s the most important thing for everyone of us – our relationship with God.  That’s the bottom line – God wants us to love Him and be in a deep and living relationship with Him.  Not in just a casual acquaintance kind of way – but with ALL of us in every way!

But He doesn’t stop there.  He gives them the second as well.  “The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment  greater than these”.  So the commandment doesn’t end with our relationship with God.  It continues to those in our patch, and Jesus defines ‘neighbor’ in other places in scripture.  The two commandments are tied together by one word – LOVE.  God wants us to love Him as He has loved us, and to love those around us.  That should describe our life – we are lovers of God and lovers of people.  It is the heart of God.

Jesus wraps up His teaching by talking about giving.  “He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two  small copper coins, which make a penny”.  So you have some putting in large amounts, and this widow who gives a penny.  The world would say it is obvious which is more important to the work of the ministry.  Pennies don’t fund much.  But Jesus sees it differently.  “This poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on”.  It isn’t the amount that matters, it is the heart. Just like the two great commandments – it is all about the heart.  Where is your heart when it comes to God?

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