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February 21, 2016

By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor

Mark 11:27-12:44

In Mark 11:27-12:4, when Jesus returned to the temple after angrily overturning cheaters’ tables and calling the people to come back to the true worship of God, He answered direct, tough and often tricky questions from a mixture of people and told one parable.  He had upset the religious apple cart, and now He was calling them to a fuller understanding of God Himself.

Four Questions Answered by Jesus:

  1. What are your credentials? – asked by the religious leaders (Mark 11:27-33)
  2. Should God-fearing Jews pay taxes? – asked by other religious leaders (Mark 12:13-17)
  3. To whom are we married in the resurrection? – asked by a third group of religious leaders (Mark 12:18-27)
  4. Which is the greatest commandment? – asked by an individual teacher of the law (Mark 12:28-34)

The first three questions were clearly only asked to try to outsmart Jesus in order to ridicule or strip Him of any authority.  Jesus answered them wisely, indicating wisdom far superior to all these religious leaders. Yet there is no record of their turning to Jesus as a result.

The individual teacher of the law, however, recognized the brilliance of Jesus’ answers to the first three questions, and he then asked his own more genuine question based on his own curiosity. From this man’s ponderings, Jesus could tell him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34).

Indeed, Jesus knew that under all this questioning in the temple was a far deeper issue of understanding God and His Kingdom. To clarify this issue, Jesus taught the parable of the tenants (Mark 12:1-11) and asked a question of His own (Mark 12:35-37).

Sometimes, as in the parable of the tenants, our questions are not of curiosity or confusion, but of resistance.  Jesus saw through the religious leaders’ rebellion and taught of the consequences of their rejection of Himself, God’s Son, in His story of the servants’ killing the master’s son.

The real question, Jesus revealed, was whether we recognize the true nature of God in the Messiah, whom King David called “Lord” (Mark 12:37).  King David recognized that the Messiah is far more than simply his descendant: He is the Savior sent by God the Father, who died in our place, to forgive sins and give resurrection life to of all of us who turn to Him.

If we are like the people in the temple with questions, we need to be quiet and spend time looking at the condition of our hearts.  Within ourselves, we must answer the most important question of who we believe Jesus really is.

We can rest assured that the Messiah (through His Holy Spirit) encourages our questions and is fully capable of answering our most complex, seemingly unanswerable questioning, as He did in the temple with His simple and deeply profound replies to the religious leaders.

In our daily lives as disciples of Jesus, we can be assured that He will respond to our heartfelt, honest questions in the very best manner for us individually — completely, partially, simply, complicated, immediately, later, or perhaps when we live with Him eternally. If Jesus really is the Son of God, the King of the universe, then it does not ultimately matter if all our questions are not even answered in this life.

Our marvelous Lord, the “cornerstone” (Mark 12:9), is in control of our individual lives and all of history, and His presence with us daily will be our satisfaction and joy.