Matt Blackwell speaks on Mark 12:35-44
Series: The Gospel of Mark
Jesus revealed four things about His identity through His teaching:
Both Human and Divine
35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ 37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly. Mark 12:35-37 (ESV, emphasis added)
In His response, Jesus quoted Psalm 110, which was written by David and asked how David could say the things he did. The coming Messiah was going to be the Son of David. So how would He also be the Lord of David?
Most people knew the Messiah was going to be a man, a descendant of David. He was going to be a political leader who would establish a kingdom in Israel. Israel would no longer be subjugated to foreign rulers; they were going to pay back all the people who had enslaved them. They would have prosperity, land and a kingdom. The people longed for the day this man, this Son of David, would come and reestablish their prominence. They were partly correct in this thinking. There was going to be a man, a descendant of David, but He would also be Lord.
Jesus was both the Son of David in His humanity, but also the Lord of David in His divinity. He was perfect humanity and undiminished deity wrapped in human flesh.
This is good news for us. Through Jesus’ humanity we get His empathy. He knows the weight of sin and temptation. He knows what it means to be tired, hungry, betrayed. He has uniquely experienced it in His humanity.
But that’s not all. Coupled with His humanity is His authority as God. He feels the weight of it all, but with His authority as God, He’s able to actually do something about it. He’s able to step in and has the authority to forgive sin, conquer death, take on the weight of our sin and give us His righteousness.
We’ve heard it said that Jesus is a really good guy. We want to follow Him, exemplify him, live the life He lived, love and care for the poor like He did. We ought to want to follow Him as our example. Yet, that’s an insufficient and misunderstanding of His identity. Not only do we follow Him in His humanity, but we also must worship Him in His deity.
We ought to follow Him as the Son of David, but also worship Him as the Lord of David. We need to know Him as both human perfection and divine undiminished. That is who He was revealing Himself to be.
His Work is Complete
“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ Mark 12:36 (ESV)
There is a completion to the work of Christ when God tells Him to sit at His right hand.
In chapter 12 of Mark, Jesus was in the temple while teaching on Psalm 110. Interestingly, later on in Hebrews, the same theme is discussed and applied directly to the work of Jesus.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:11-14 (ESV)
There was no chair in the temple. The priests had to stand while continually making sacrifices of bulls, goats and birds, as the sins of humanity continued to pile up. That is, until the Perfect Lamb, Jesus, brought the perfect sacrifice to atone the covering of all sins. It was a complete sacrifice. At that point, He could sit down, because there was a completion to His work.
The work of Christ is completed. It is sufficient to cover your sins. You might think I don’t understand what you’ve done or how far away you are from God. You think He couldn’t possibly forgive you. But you could never do more bad than there is good in God’s grace through Jesus Christ. It’s arrogant to think you’re worse than He is good. We must trust in His sufficient sacrifice.
He Sits With Honor & Authority
Jesus sits at the right hand of God, the place of authority and honor. It’s the seat that counts and matters. That seat was reserved for Him.
He Will Rise and Return
But He won’t always sit. There will be a day when He stands up from that seat. He will rise up and return to judge the living and the dead, returning the church back to Him. He will vanquish sin, Satan and death.
He was revealing to the people who He is, explaining, “I am the Lord.”
With this great reveal, when we begin to see who He is, we’re left with two responses. We either:
Have you ever seen the show Undercover Boss? A CEO or high-ranking business official leaves the board room and goes to the stock room, taking a low level position in order to learn what’s going on and see the ins and outs of their policies and staff. The high point of the show is when they reveal who they truly are to all the employees. The people are flabbergasted. They’re either freaked out because they treated him poorly or they’re excited because they treated him well.
The same thing happens when Jesus reveals who He is.
38 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Mark 12:38-40 (ESV)
The Scribes’ Response
Jesus was in the temple while teaching people about being weary of the Scribes. The Scribes themselves would have been right there, hearing everything. Yet they continued to reject Him. Their hearts were far from Him. They had a form of godliness, but denied who Jesus was. This led to great condemnation.
Jesus was point to something going on deeper in the hearts of the Scribes. He was pointing out their desire to look good on the exterior. They loved to be greeted, recognized and respected. They wanted to be seen as special. They felt entitled to the best of things.
We struggle with our own sense of entitlement. We try to barter with God. We’re willing to show up and do this religious thing, but only as long as God shows up and brings healing, blessing, a job, or a spouse. When He doesn’t come through in the way and timing we wanted we’re ready to walk away.
When we assume a posture of entitlement and bartering with God, we’re putting ourselves on equal footing with the One who spoke creation into being.
Jesus is the Son and Lord of David. He has authority as God. We don’t barter with Him. There is grace and kindness of God; everything He gives us is His kindness given to lead us to repentance. It is His grace that draws us in.
The Widow’s Response
41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 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.” Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)
We see a contrast between the religious leaders and this poor widow. The religious leaders rejected Christ. But then one poor widow, who didn’t have a seat in the synagogue, no clothes to call attention to herself, took her one and only penny and gave out of her poverty. In that act, she gave up control.
The religious leaders were giving a lot, but it wasn’t out of their poverty. It was out of their margin. Out of their excess.
The woman gave all she had to live on. The Greek word was bios, which literally means she gave her life. She entrusted her life to God.
I get that I’m not suppose to be like the religious leaders who are pious. I’m supposed to be like the woman who gave her life. But this passage has never moved me to sacrifice. I honor and respect this widow, but I’m not like her. What is this supposed to look like for me?
A Call to Sacrifice
The widow gave sacrificially to a broken religious system. Those priests would take her last penny and buy themselves new robes. It was an insufficient sacrifice. But the very next chapter talks about Jesus tearing down the temple and broken system. He was going to build a new temple and a new system built with the redeemed saints of God, where He was going to be the new chief cornerstone.
He’s not calling us to sacrifice to a broken religious system. He’s calling us to sacrifice to an eternal kingdom. The very same word used with the widow, bios, is the same word used for what Jesus did for us. Jesus gave His bios away.
He gave His life away so that we may have life. Thus, we don’t sacrifice out of emptiness, but rather out of the fullness of God’s sacrifice.
That is our calling. To die to ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.
I think we more often live like the religious leaders who are grasping for recognition and importance, to be known and valued. The good news for us is that we don’t have to grasp for those things. In Christ we already have all the recognition and value we need. It’s the sufficient sacrifice of Jesus that allows us to give it all away. As we give it away He continues to supply our needs. Through Him, we have all we need for life and godliness.
We are to be like the widow in giving. But unlike her in giving to a broken system, we give to an eternal kingdom.
We Must Trust Him
As we begin to recognize the identity of Jesus, we should trust in who He is. He is empathetic. He understands your pain. He knows your sin and loves you anyway. He is the authoritative One who can come and change your death to life. He can forgive your sins and bring about a new sense of righteousness to you. You are His.
We trust Him with everything: our finances, our jobs, our spouses, families, or singleness. We ask Him to take these things and use them to build the stones of His kingdom so many would come to know Him.
Let’s sacrifice like this. And as we give ourselves away, let us trust He will continue to fill, replenish, redeem and send us forth.