David’s Lord (Mark 12:28-44)

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David’s Lord
Sunday, January 28th, 2024
Christ Covenant Church – Centralia, WA

Mark 12:28-44

28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: 33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

35 And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, 39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Prayer

Father, we thank you for Your law which is perfect, converting the soul. We thank you for your testimony that is sure, making wise the simple. We thank you for Your statutes that are right, rejoicing the heart. And we praise you for Your commandment that is pure and enlightening to our eyes. Fill us now O Lord with love that descends from above, for we ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Introduction

This morning, we finish out Mark chapter 12, and this is the conclusion of an ongoing showdown between Jesus and the highest authorities of the Jews.

  • Jesus is teaching in the outer court of the Temple, it is Passover week, and so the place is filled with visitors. So far we have seen representatives from different Jewish factions take turns trying to stump the Lord Jesus.
    • First the chief priests, scribes, and elders (the Sanhedrin) challenged Jesus’ authority, “who gave thee this authority to do these things?” (Mark 11:28).
      • Jesus’ answer was “the same authority as John the Baptist.”
    • Next, the Pharisees and Herodians came along and asked whether it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar.
      • Jesus’ answer was, “give to Caesar what belongs to him, and give to God what belongs to God.”
    • Then, last week, we saw the Sadducees come with an argument against the resurrection.
      • Jesus answered them by saying, “ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” and then proceeded to demonstrate the resurrection from Exodus 3:6.
    • So Jesus is as a great fighter in the ring, and when he knocks out one opponent, immediately another arises. And yet for all their persistent attempts to catch Jesus in his words, to stump him theologically, in every case they end up indicting themselves.
  • And so this section in Mark’s gospel, Chapters 11-12, are really intended to expose the falsity and wickedness and duplicity and hypocrisy of the entire Jerusalem establishment. There are still pockets of faithfulness here and there, God promised there would always be a faithful remnant, but on the whole, the powers that be are corrupt and unjust. These are the false shepherds in Israel who devour the sheep (Jer. 23:1). These are the wicked servants in Jesus’ parable of the vineyard who steal God’s stuff and murder his servants.
  • And what all of this exposing of sin is building up to is chapter 13, where Jesus is going to foretell that within one generation, the temple and its leaders are going to be destroyed. The powers that be will be shaken, the stars will fall from the sky. And the Son of Man shall come with power and glory to bring judgment on the old world, and usher in the new.
  • So this radical change in the authority structure of the whole cosmos, is what these doctrinal controversies are really about. The Jews recognized that Jerusalem and the Temple was the center of the world, they know the promise of Isaiah 2:1 that, “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow unto it…For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
  • The Jews also knew the many prophecies that a king would arise from the line of David, and that as it says in Psalm 72:8, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the river unto the ends of the earth.”
  • So the Jews were primed for this universal king to come and reign. But as with the arrival of any new power or regime or kingdom, it is those who are currently in power who are most threatened by any change to the status quo. And it is that change that Jesus comes to bring about, but it is a change far more profound than either the populists (who love Jesus) or the upper classes (who hate Jesus) recognize.
  • What almost everyone is blind to is that Jesus is God in the flesh. In Jesus, God Himself has come to reign. And so in arguing with Jesus in the temple, they are arguing with God about His Law and doing so in His House. And this is what makes their opposition to Jesus so ironic and outrageous. These are the people who claim to speak for and represent God and His Word. And yet they cannot recognize God, or the Word incarnate, when he is staring them in the face.
  • So our text this morning is the conclusion of this public showdown, and there are four sections to this passage, and each has an important application for us.
    • 1. In verses 28-34, Jesus tells us what the greatest commandment is.
    • 2. In verses 35-37, Jesus tells us who the Messiah is.
    • 3. In verses 38-40, Jesus warns us of seeking worldly honorand riches.
    • 4. In verses 41-44, Jesus gives us the example of the poor widow.

#1 – What is the greatest commandment according to Jesus?

  • This is the question a scribe poses to Jesus in verse 28, and Jesus responds by saying, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
  • Notice that Jesus begins his answer with the most famous verse in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 6:4, also known as the Shema. It was customary for Jews to say the Shema twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, and it is the Old Testament equivalent to our Christian confession that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
  • And so notice the first verb, or action Jesus commends for us as the greatest commandment, is “Hear.” Yes, love for God and love for neighbor is the great commandment, but even prior to love is the necessity of Hearing. We must hear and know the voice of God and believe that He is one Lord.
    • We cannot love what we do not know, and therefore you must know the One God and to Him alone should all your heart, soul, mind, and strength be given.
    • In other words, it is not enough to be radical in your devotion if the object of your devotion is false. If the object of your devotion is anyone or anything other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then it is idolatry. And so Jesus says “Hear,” take heed to who it is that you are worshipping.
  • Now if you have ever read the Old Testament, you know that there are many strange laws and regulations and many of them are hard to understand. And what Jesus is giving us here is the answer to key to understanding all of those laws. Because when you reduce the divine intent behind every law down to its most basic principle, it is simply: love God more than anything, and love your neighbor as yourself. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:40).
  • The scribe recognizes that Jesus has spoken well, and in a surprising and refreshing turn of events, after all the aggressive opposition, he agrees with Jesus and adds that this is “more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
    • As it says in 1 Samuel 15:22, “to obey is better than sacrifice.”
    • God says in Hosea 6:6, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
  • And so here Jesus gives us the ultimate end of our existence. Why did God create you? What are you here for? What is life all about? What is my purpose? What should occupy your attention? One thing: God.
    • Man’s final end is to know and love God, there is nothing higher. And therefore, everything else, even and especially many other good things, must be subordinated and ordered towards that end.
    • Now, if knowing and loving God is our highest good, then what is sin? Sin is settling for any lesser good than God. There are many ways we can do this, but at bottom, sin is choosing to give your heart, soul, mind, or strength, to someone or something other than God.
    • Or to put it in terms of St. Augustine, sin is to have disordered loves.
  • So we exist to know and love God with all that we are, and to love our neighbor as ourself, and this Jewish scribe agrees with Jesus that is the first and highest commandment. And yet, according to Jesus, this is not sufficient for him to enter the kingdom.
    • In verse 34 it says, “Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” He is close, he is near, but he is not yet in.
    • And so what is this scribe missing? Well, that is what Jesus is going to address with a question of his own. And he poses it in the form of riddle, taken from one of the psalms.

Verse 35-37

35 And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

#2 – Who is the Christ?

  • The question Jesus is asking is, “How can the Christ be both David’s son and David’s Lord?”
    • If the Christ is David’s son, and no son is greater than his father, no father calls his son lord, how then can David call his son in Psalm 110, “my lord.”
  • Scripture teaches both of these realities about the Messiah. God promised in 2 Samuel 7, that David’s throne would last forever. And even after the kingdom was divided, and the Jews were in exile, God promised again in Jeremiah 23, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” (Jer. 23:5).
  • So whoever the Christ is, must be a fleshly descendent of David. And yet David, inspired by the Holy Ghost says in Psalm 110, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
  • What the scribes could not understand, was that in this Psalm, David was extolling the Lord Jesus. David was contemplating the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation.
    • The Father who is God and LORD, said unto the Son, who is God and David’s Lord, “sit thou at my right hand.”
    • And so the answer to Jesus’ riddle is also the thesis of Mark’s Gospel. Who is Jesus Christ? He is the eternal Son of God (Mark 1:1).
  • And so only God could be both David’s son and David’s Lord, and that is who Jesus is.
  • It is this belief and faith in Jesus as both son of David according to the flesh and Son of God as a fully divine person, that grants us entrance into the kingdom. While the Shema is good and right and true, the Shema is not sufficient to enter the kingdom of heaven. Because to truly Hear and know the one true God and one Lord, one must also accept that Jesus Christ is that one true God and Lord.
  • This is why Jesus says in John 17:3, “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Jesus is the doorway into the kingdom.And so it is doubly true that this scribe was not far from the kingdom for indeed he was talking to the king himself.
  • Who is the Christ? He is both David’s son and David’s Lord. The Christ can be none other than the One God of the Shema.
  • Having posed this riddle so that the one who figures it out may enter the kingdom, Jesus now proceeds to do two things: First, he warns us of seeking worldly honor, and second, he shows us what keeping the greatest commandment looks like.

#3 – A Warning Against Worldliness

Verses 38-40

38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, 39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

  • There are two warnings here.
    • The first is to beware of the people who use religion for selfish and self-serving purposes.
      • There are scribes who pray and teach and look very religious, but in the eyes of God it is all a show. It is all a pretense to devour widows’ houses and gain status in society.
      • The church must be on guard against such hypocrisy both in ourselves and in our leaders.
      • Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:17, “keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.” He says in 1 Timothy 3:8, that officers in the church (elders and deacons) must not be greedy for filthy lucre.
      • What is filthy lucre? It’s ill-gotten gain. It’s using your authority and influence to manipulate the widows in the church. To steal their deceased husband’s estate, taking their inheritance and putting it into your own pockets. This is what the teachers of God’s law were doing in Jerusalem. And so Jesus is saying, beware of those scribes, they are liars and frauds, not everyone deserves your trust.
    • The second warning is to beware of the temptation to worldly glory.
      • All of us are susceptible to vanity. All of us naturally desire to look good in front of others (make a good impression), and we all want people to think and speak well of us. And while none of those things is inherently evil, when that becomes our aim, instead of honoring and pleasing God, we quickly become slaves to the world and to our own self-image.
      • This is why Jesus says in Luke 6:26, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”
      • It is not a sin to care what people think of you. We should all aspire to have a good name and witness and reputation. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, And loving favour rather than silver and gold.”
      • So having a good name is not a sin, but it is a sin if you have a good name with the world, and a bad name in the eyes of God. And this is what the whole Jewish establishment was guilty of.

So how then shall we live? How then shall we keep the first and greatest commandment, and enter into the kingdom?

  • Well, we have had many negative examples, and many cautionary tales of what not to be like, and finally, Jesus gives us the positive example of the poor widow.

#4 – The Poor Widow

Verses 41-44

41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

  • So within the temple complex, there was a place to give your offerings. And tradition holds that there were thirteen of these “shofar chests,” which were large trumpet-shaped receiving containers where people could throw in their contributions. And as the coins went in, you could hear the clink-clink-clink and know, was that a large offering, or a small offering.
  • So Jesus is watching people bring their offerings (into His House) and put them into His treasury. And many rich folks come through and give large offerings (clink clink clink clink clink clink) very good. But then comes the poor widow, and she has the equivalent of what we could call pocket change, perhaps enough to buy a candy bar or a package of top ramen. Two mites. And she puts both of them into the treasury (clink clink).
  • And then Jesus says, “this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury. Because the rich gave from their abundance, but she gave all her living from her want.”
  • In other words, if ever it would have been reasonable for a woman to keep back at least one of her mites, this was the occasion. And yet, she so casts herself upon the mercy and generosity of God that she gives to Him what probably was her daily bread. She exchanges the totality of her temporal goods (“all her living”), which is not much, so that she might gain more of God.
  • What is the price of heaven? What is the cost to enter Christ’s kingdom? Well, Jesus is teaching us here that the price cannot be measured in dollars or coins or any worldly possession. It is measured rather, according to the intention and contents of the heart.
  • Not only is the gift measured in proportion to what God has given us, more importantly, it is measured according to the love for God we have for him in our offering. Do we regard God as worth all our living? When we give to Him our tithes and offerings, does it represent all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, or is it just 10% off the top to keep our conscience clean?
    • Two people can give to God the same 10% of their income, but in God’s eyes, one could be robbing Him (because they are giving it grudgingly), and the other could be offering their whole self to Him in that tithe. This is why God says, “I love a cheerful giver.”
  • So love for God is what makes an offering acceptable in His sight, no matter the amount. And this is what makes the widow’s offering of two mites worth more than a king’s ransom. And yet it is not just that the widow has given God all her living, it is that her gift represents her real spiritual state. She is both materially poor and poor in spirit, and thus the beatitude comes to pass as Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). This woman is not far from the kingdom, she is inside of it because of her love for God.
  • Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
    • In other words, you could hear this sermon, and try to be like the poor widow and give God all your goods, but if you lack charity, then you haven’t actually given Him what He wants. He wants your heart!
  • This principle is crucial for us to understand because it means that all of our actions and attitudes all day long, can either be a pleasing offering acceptable to the Lord, or a foul smell in his nostrils.
    • Remember Cain and Abel. Both offered sacrifices, but one was accepted and one was not.
  • And so what are the two mites God has given you? Or what is the great abundance God has blessed you with? What is your livelihood and vocation? Because no matter how much or little you think you have, all of us have an equal opportunity to give all of ourselves in love to God.
  • Moreover, God Himself is the greatest reward any of us could receive, and the more we die to this world, and give him all our living, the more we make space in our soul to be filled by Him.
  • Remember what God said to Abram in Genesis 15? Abram had just returned from rescuing Lot from Chedorlaomer and three other kings. He defeated them, and thenMelchizedek came out and blessed Abram and Abram gave him a tithe. And yet he would not receive any gifts or reward from the king of Sodom. And then it says in Genesis 15:1, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”
  • This poor widow was a true daughter of Abraham, a true woman of faith. She had God for her shield and her exceedingly great reward. And so the more you divest yourself of worldly desire, and the more you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, the richer you become.
  • This is how Paul can say in 2 Corinthians 6:10, we are “as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
  • The person who has God as supreme in their affections is the one who possesses everything. And God is the gift that Jesus Christ comes to offer.

Conclusion

Jesus Christ offered Himself on the cross for the life of the world. He loved His Father, and He loved you, even unto death.

  • And so what is two mites, or what is all your possessions, compared to so great a love?
  • Become like Abraham, become like the poor widow, and choose God as your shield and as your exceedingly great reward, for that is a reward that can never be taken from you.
  • In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.
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