Summary: In this portion of Mark we get a clearer picture of what it means to rely on God for things, and what it means to rely on the government. Here the religious leaders try to trip Jesus up, but they fall right into His trap.
After the episode in the Temple on the previous day, I guess Jesus should have expected the religious leaders of Israel to react. In fact, the Lord is trying to get them to react and eventually figure out a way to arrest and condemn Him. In the end of Chapter 11 and into Chapter 12 we see a series of confrontations as they try their level best to trip Jesus up. It can’t be done so in the end they will simply have to make up the charges against Him. It’s kind of fun watching these conversations take place—like one of those bad martial arts movies where you have the hero who takes on multiple assailants at once and dispatches them with ease. But in this case, Jesus is not only giving great answers, He is instructing us about our responsibilities to God and man.
25 – 26
It’s great to stand and in faith and trust ask God to move mountains. But if in your heart you are not willing to forgive others then you misunderstand your position and God’s mercy! The only reason we can ask God for anything isn’t based on our merit but on His mercy and forgiveness. Jesus is saying that we must look on others as He looks on us, and have mercy and offer forgiveness to those that wrong us or we are not going to be successful in our requests to God.
This is a pretty tall order and God knows that we will not be perfect in it. The key is that you have a soft heart towards God and a forgiving heart towards others—you want to act like God. I think too that bitterness and unforgiveness towards others clouds our ability to ask for things in God’s will and to think clearly.
Verse 26 is not likely in Mark’s original writing but the principal from Matthew 6:15 is true. It doesn’t mean we become destined for hell and lose our salvation every time we don’t forgive someone, but it shows we are not following God’s character.
Next, Jesus enters Jerusalem (this is now Tuesday). By this time the religious leaders had had time to figure out a plan to try to discredit Him.
27 – 28
This begins an extended section where Jesus confronts those directly who hold power in Israel. The three groups mentioned here make up the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the nation. It’s likely that night before the group met to discuss ways to get rid of Jesus, though they couldn’t do it with anyone around because He was so popular.
They wanted to stay in power and realized Jesus wanted to take it away from them. But they were very crafty and wanted to use public opinion to do their work. If Jesus answered their question that God had given Him authority then they could accuse Him of blasphemy which carried the death penalty because He would be proclaiming to be Messiah. If He said it did it on His own authority then they figured the people would eventually dismiss Him as another one of the trouble-makers and go back to serving the leaders.
29 – 33
Though their question was legitimate, their motivation was not to test for a false prophet. Their motivation was to keep themselves in power even if it meant killing an innocent man. They had asked Jesus for His credentials, so He asks them what they felt about John the Baptist’s credentials, hinting that both He and John got their authority from the same place.
I love how they argued amongst themselves—not worrying a bit about the truth, only what will further their own agenda. Do we sometimes fall into that same game plan?
In the end they answer by pleading ignorance. Jesus had really already answered their question and those in attendance who knew about John would have realized He was claiming authority from God. But the religious leaders had already rejected Jesus, so the Lord tells a parable about them – more in a long line of Israel’s leaders who rejected and killed prophets God had sent to them.
12: 1 – 12
Jesus tells the story of Israel. The nation was created by God and belonged to God. His purpose was to bless the nations by bringing forth the Messiah. Israel was supposed to show the world what a relationship with Yahweh was like, bring in the Scriptures, and provide a line for the Messiah. God married them after He rescued them from Egypt. But before they could even cut the cake (so to speak) they were already having an affair with another god (Exodus 32).
This continued when they entered the place where the Messiah was to be born, the land of Israel. God sent them prophet at prophet to tell them they were being unfaithful, but instead of welcoming them, they hurled insults at them and killed many of them.