God’s Top Priorities For Us

It is still just Tuesday of Holy Week!!! Wednesday starts with Chapter 14. The final five chapter of the Gospel of mark are DENSE! GRAVITY / WEIGHT. Each day Jesus & His disciples spend in Jerusalem this Holy Week is action packed! Jesus is dealing with everything from big picture ideas to individual examples, all the while teaching directly from the Scriptures. Pay attention to who He is talking to at different times. Today’s passage has: Big Picture / Specific Scripture / Individual Example

Setting The Stage: Christ is Teaching at the Temple. Jesus just told a story that describes the spiritual state of God’s chosen people. The parable of the vineyard tenants. [Grasping for Power] Then in answer to a couple of insincere, ‘trick questions’, He points out how the political and religious leaders have lost their way so badly they are completely aligned against God! [Greg’s Sermon] Directly following this Jesus tells the religious leaders they are completely wrong about God, then He fields a question from ‘A Scribe’. But this guys is different, he is sincere and real and in response to that, Jesus teaches truth to the teachable.

Let us be humble and teachable in all aspects of our life.[Easier said than done] Jesus gives revelation to those who approach Him in faith: This is a massive gift!!!

Mark 12:28-44

28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and 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.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

  • THIS Scribe recognizes Christ’s ‘God-centric’ teaching [don’t take for granted]
  • So… He asks; ‘what is the most important thing God would have us do?’
  • Jesus begins by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5
  • Then He quotes the end of Leviticus 19:18
  • He says: These two things are of the highest priority
    • How you are related to God
    • How you are related to your neighbor ‘Who is my Neighbor?’
  • The kind of relationship God wants with us includes every aspect of our lives
    • Loving Him with all we have
  • The kind of relationship God wants us to have with our neighbor is loving also
    • You love yourself all the time & in ways that fulfill your needs
    • So we are to love our neighbor this way. What does that look like in ‘real life’?

32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

  • The Scribe knows the Scriptures so he affirms Christ’s ‘Spiritual Priorities’
  • The Scribe agrees that these priorities are more important than ritual & religion
  • The Scribe quotes Hosea 6:6 as part of his response: ‘For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.’
  • It’s not about religious activity it’s about relationships [Vertical & Horizontal]
  • Jesus is like: ‘You are getting it and that will get you there!’ [The Kingdom]

35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet.”’ 37 David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.

  • So now that Christ has at least one teachable student [besides the Disciples]
  • He drops ‘Truth for The teachable’ [teaching in the Temple]
  • He takes on a real tricky passage… a real ‘ask the pastor’ kind of question
  • Quoting Psalm 110:1 He asks How can David’s son can also be David’s ‘Lord’
  • The answer is: If that descendant is the God-Man Messiah, The Incarnation!
  • The large crowd liked what they heard…But do they really get who HE is?
  • Then a quick pivot…

38 In His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, 39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”

  • He say lookout for the ‘Scribes’ who do the following things [Corrupt]
  • He is saying not all of them are corrupt.
  • What he describes are people who put on quite a show of their great position
  • Yet they steal from the most vulnerable!
  • They make a mockery of prayer, using it to get attention from people
  • They will face judgement
  • Now it is time for an object lesson, an example of the opposite of the Scribes

41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

  • Jesus is now teaching in the court of Women across from ‘The Treasury’
  • This was 13 trumpet shaped ‘Alms Boxes’ located in the court of women
  • He see rich people putting in many coins, lots of loot
  • And He see a poor widow putting in 2 coins; 1/64 of a Denarius [a day’s wage]
  • In today’s money, a days wage is about $130 so this would be about $2.00!!!
  • Jesus says Her offering is more valuable than all the giving from surplus
  • She gave from obedience not out of calculation
  • She gave from what she actually needed, trusting in God not herself
  • She imitated Christ’s sacrificial giving to us on the cross: HE GAVE IT ALL


Christ gives us a synopsis of what a real relationship with God looks like based on what God has already revealed: Scripture.

The guy asking the question models how we are to properly approach God. [Humble] He’s a stark & necessary contrast, to the majority of the Religious & Political Leaders.

Jesus with a teachable audience, gives a short lesson on how there are some important details to understand regarding how God’s revelation all comes together in The Christ / Messiah. In this, Christ calls His ‘followers’ to lifelong learning = Discipleship [Scripture Study]

Christ then gives US [teachable disciples] two ends of the spectrum as to how people response to God’s revelation of Himself [Scripture]. First we have the Religious Elite, they are immersed in God’s revelation and yet live fake, self-dependent, all show no go lives before God…arrogant and shameless [think vineyard tenants]. Then Jesus points out one person living by trust in God alone… as Our Lord would have each of His followers live.

Theology: What God has revealed to us [Biblical] about Himself that we can comprehend.

Doxology: How one lives in response to [Biblical] ‘Revelation’ / The Gospel. The term Doxology carries the connotation of ‘Worship’ A Response to The Holy…

When you trust who Christ is, and that He, God Himself offers eternal life… You can now live in a state of dependance on God that resembles this poor widow.

What are the top priorities of the life Jesus calls us to?

~ A committed love relationship with your Creator and Savior that is Spiritual, Emotional, Physical, and Intellectual.

~ A lifestyle of consistently, effectively caring for those you are in community with.

Why do we seek to understand the Scriptural Messiah / Jesus The Christ?

~ To properly surrender our lives and worship God we must understand Him as He is revealed in Scripture.

~ The revelation of Christ that leads to salvation and the life of a disciple requires our diligent seeking of Scripture: an ongoing investigation of the Truth.

What does Christ Jesus teach HIS followers regarding generosity?

~ We are to give to the kingdom in ways that place us into dependance upon God.

~ Our giving has a spiritual value, not just dollars and cents value. Biblical obedience strengthens our alignment with God.

Mark 12:13-27 (ESV)

And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and  the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

Application Points:

God has ordained government and civil authority.

-Pray for authorities (I Tim 2)

-Submit to their authority (Rom 13)

-Obey God and humbly accept the world’s hostility (Acts 3)

-The world’s laws and taxes are crumbs. Give them the crumbs. The riches are the Lord’s.

Resurrection is very real.

-We cannot die.

-The body will rest.

-The spirit goes to the Lord (II Cor 5)

-When He comes back, we are all coming back. (I Cor 15, I Thess 4)

Are you alive? Really alive? Alive in the Lord….alive?!?!

Grasping for Power
Mark 12:1-12 (ESV)


12 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 

•The master has an expectation for the tenants, they are to watch over and protect the property and the crop.
•There is a season where the tenants are put in charge for a time, and then they will need to pay the master his portion, give him what he is due.

3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. 

•They think they own something; they are possessive. By their actions they do not recognize the master as the rightful owner of the vineyard. 
•The patience of the master is wild!

“Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.”
Ezekiel 34:2-5

Jesus has been calling them hypocrites his entire ministries. Jesus called the people sheep without a shepherd. And just now when Jesus cleared out the temple, these are all indicators that the religious leaders have failed badly. 

6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 

9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone; 
11 this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

•God is not a military leader who can be overthrown through a political coup, their mission is in vanity and destined to fail.

12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

•they get that the story is about them but they don’t react accordingly. They still act the part of the tenants, trying to get him arrested and killed. 
•There is a disconnect between how they see themselves and reality. They think they are preserving the faith from a rouge blasphemer. But their actions betray them


Obey the master
•Listen to those who God sends
        •God speaks and directs us through others. Are you paying attention?
•Produce the fruit and give him the glory
        •we are to produce the fruit. Are you? 
        •We are to take care of that which God has entrusted to us. 
        •What has God placed in your care? Are you caring for it?

Keep an eye on the return of the master
•Would you rather he not return because you want to do things your way?

Make Jesus the cornerstone
•Is he the center piece of all that you do?
•We are called to set aside our ambitions and agenda. It’s not about us, it never has been. We are only fooling if we think we can control the situation ourselves

God’s patience had been misunderstood to be aloofness. 

Exodus 34
 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

The Shadow Of Calvary Looms

Mark 11:20-33

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” (v.20-21)

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (v.22-24)

Application point 1: There are situations/seasons of life when the Lord appoints an obstacle in our way to develop our faith and/or put His power on display.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive your trespasses. [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses.] (v.25-26)

Application point 2: Be careful removing scripture from its context. An unforgiving spirit is a great hindrance to effective prayer. An unforgiving spirit blocks our prayers and isolates us from the blessing of His presence and awareness of His grace.

And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was talking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” (v.27-28)

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” (v.29-30)

And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, from heaven, he will say, why then did you not believe him? But shall we say, From man?” they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. (v. 31-32)

So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (v.33)

Application point 3: They rejected Jesus just as they rejected John. And He rejected them.

In Summary:

-Our failures are a usual way God grows us, but often He appoints hardships for us to grow our faith, purify us, or protect us (perhaps even from ourselves).

-While v.24 appears to be a broad promise, it is contingent that we approach heaven, exercising faith with a humble forgiving spirit. Being right or getting right with our brothers and sisters!

-The Lord did not argue with His enemies. He did not seek to enlighten them. To them, He had nothing to say. Likewise, to the mockers and skeptics, we are not the ‘fixers’ of them all. We must be Spirit-led and filled. Recognize those He has given to us and move along from those He may appoint to others.