The Parable of the vineyard Owner: 12:1-27.
(Read: Mark 12:1-27)
Jesus used this parable to illustrate the nature of relationship between God and Israel. God is like the owner of a vineyard. Vineyard is symbolic of Israel (Isaiah 5:1-7). The servants are the prophets whom God sent to Israel. The nation of Israel was blessed with covenant and promises. But they mistreated the servants God. Eventually God sent his own beloved Son. But they murdered him. Like the leaders of Israel, those who reject Christ is guilty and deserve to be punished. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the church. Through his death he has made a way to reconcile to God. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalms 118:22-23. To know more, read note on Matthew 21:33-46. The religious leaders tried to trap Jesus by asking a loaded question about paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus was asked about taxes, divorce and resurrection. Those who wanted to find fault with him were amazed at his answer. This passage reminds that unless the Holy Spirit helps us, we are unable to understand God's plan of salvation. Christ is the cornerstone of God’s Kingdom work and he has purchased our salvation by his sacrifice. Our performance will never be the basis of our acceptance with God but our faith in Christ. The assurance of our salvation is based on his finished work on the cross.
The Most Important Commandment: 12:28-44.
(Read: Mark 12: 28-44)
One of the scribes asked Jesus “Which commandment is the most important of all?” The scribes were the scholars and interpreters of the Old Testament. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4-6. “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”. The second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these”. Loving God must be the motivation behind our service. Jesus said “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? How Jesus is both David’s Lord and son at the same time?”(12:35-37). Jesus warned his followers and said “Beware of scribes. They love the seats of honor in the synagogues and at banquets”. They shamefully cheat widows and make long prayers in public to impress people. They will face greater judgment for their hypocrisy and greed. Jesus praises the sacrificial offering of a poor widow. Her offering shows her complete dependence and devotion to God. She gave all she had and trusted God to provide all her needs. Her willingness to put God’s honor above everything should challenge us. Generosity is not measured by the size of the gift but the motivation behind it. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7-8). True faith always leads to sacrificial action. Jesus does not separate faith from practice. The living faith acts in love (James 2:26).