Title: Israel: a place where God is still at work
Text: Mark 11.38-44
Introduction: Let’s begin with the transition passage of 13.1-2 the end of our passage this morning and the beginning of next weeks message. Rd 13.1-2.
I remember standing on the Mount of Olives last year looking out over the Temple Mount. The Temple itself is no longer there. As Jesus prophesied, the Temple was torn down and the mount leveled – the stones themselves thrown down. In its place the Islamic community has placed a mosque, the Dome of the Rock and other buildings.
Just below the mount, we were taken to an area where folks would make their way toward the entrance to the Temple. Shops and stores outlined the way in – and you can see their remains. The street below has massive divots; I guess that is what you’d call them. These divots were made when the huge stones where pushed over the side of the Temple Mount. (See pictures).
This little passage is a transition from the theme of the Temple – which we’ve been studying in Mark since the New Year – to a look at the eschatological teachings of Mark. Starting next week we’ll begin looking at the end times through the monocle of Mark’s gospel.
Now, let’s go back to the start of our passage Mark 12.35-37
In 35-37, we find the 6th of six controversy stories. Each controversy story is building upon the questioning of the authority of Jesus (why he taught what he taught and did what he did). Jesus has cleansed the temple, running out the moneychangers and declaring its end. He cursed the fig tree for its failure to produce fruit as a symbol of the curse upon this temple and its leadership. It was to be taken away from these leaders and it would be destroyed. He would become the New Temple – the chief cornerstone.
This story differs from the other five because Jesus asks the religious leaders a question they can’t answer. In the first controversy story, Jesus asked them a question, too. The difference here is in the fact that they could answer the first question – they just chose not to do so because they feared the people. Here, they can’t answer because they have no idea what the answer is.
You and I know the answer. We’ve got the benefit of 2,000 years of church history to help us. Rd 12.35-37
Mark knows and he’s teaching us this truth: that
I. The Son of David is the Son of God (35-37)
ill.: this past week during my morning readings, I was reading in 1 Kings 5.5 where Solomon says: 5 And so I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord said to David my father, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.’ Solomon is quoting from 2 Samuel 7.13. I’m sure he understood God’s promise to be for him and his responsibility to build God’s house – the 1st Temple. Which was true and which he did. However, the prophecy was not for him alone. Going back to 2 Samuel, there is the promise of this throne standing forever and the Son of David – not Solomon, but Jesus would be the one who would be a Temple. Ephesians teaches us that ‘we are that temple’. We’re the Body of Christ. We’re the Temple of Christ.
exp.: In John 2.19 John records a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders: 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Mark 14.58 records the false testimony about him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’ ”
In our text, Jesus quotes David; rd 12.36; The religious leaders know this passage in Psalm 110.1. They understand it to be Solomon that David is talking about, but they also know that this is a prophecy of the Messiah. Jesus then asks them; rd v 37. That’s a great question. You and I are in a very unique place in history where this makes perfect sense to us. We know this is Jesus. These guys didn’t know what we know. Listen to Strauss in his Exegetical Commentary of Mark: Jesus’ Davidic descent is deeply rooted in the tradition and has been positively affirmed in Mark by Bartimaeus’s cry (10:47–48) and, by implication, at Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem (11:10). The point must therefore be that the Messiah is more than simply a new David or heir to the Davidic throne, (which was) the traditional (scribal) expectations for the Messiah. Jesus is saying that this Messiah is more than a descendant of David. Mark is continuing to build upon his thesis that Jesus is the Son of God. Matthew takes Mark’s story and let’s us in on what he must have been thinking. Read Matthew 22.41-46; “Whose son is he?” He is God’s Son – The messiah is a descendant of David, but he is also uniquely the Son of God.
exp.: That has been Mark’s focus throughout his whole Gospel. Mark 1.1: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. and again in 1.11: 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The demons and the unclean spirits declare it in 3.11: You are the Son of God. And again in 5.7. In 9.7 upon the mount of transfiguration God declares again: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” Jesus has implied in 12.6 when he teaches them through the parable of the vineyard when the vineyard owner says: 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.’ At the very end of the gospel in 15.39 when Jesus dies on the cross: 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
app.: Sure, he’s David’s son, but he is so much more. The Son of David is a Messianic title. But he isn’t just a descendant of David. He is God in the flesh. This is an important tenant of our faith. Jesus was indeed fully human, born of a woman. He lived and died as a human. But Mark wants us to see that Jesus is so much more than mere flesh and blood. His purpose in writing this book is to communicate to us that Jesus is fully divine – God, come in the flesh: 100% fully human and 100% fully divine.
t.s.: The Son of David is the Son of God. Therefore,
II. The Son of God has the authority to remove the religious leaders because they have abused their authority. (38-44)
exp.: watch out; as in a warning; the word translated in the ESV as like is the word for want or wish. It describes their inner thoughts and inclinations. It exposes their intensions. The external part, yes – it all looks good. But Jesus knows their internal workings. He knows the thoughts and intensions of the heart. Rd v 40;
Now something interesting happens. As we’ve seen from the Master before, he is so good at using visuals to teach (like the fig tree). So, He takes his disciples to a place across from the treasury where people are coming in and giving their contributions.
Rd v 41; I’ve heard it taught that some of the wealthier people would arrange for their offerings to be made. There would be a large production made of it, with trumpet blasts and an entourage to escort them to the moneybox. I couldn’t find any evidence of that and even if that was the case periodically, there is no proof that such a show was being put on here.
The Mishnah teaches that there were 13 such offering boxes set up in the Temple area. So Jesus is sitting across from one such place. rd v 42-44; This verse has been used so many times as proof of the call to give sacrificially. But I don’t think that is what Jesus is doing here at all.
The context of the passage is all about The Temple and the Authority of Christ and the irresponsibility of the religious leaders abusing their power. Note the widows are mentioned in v 40; I think that’s our connection.
app.: You see, here is this poor widow. She brings two small coins that equal a penny to the moneybox. She could have used that money. This is just wrong! The religious leaders should have given that woman back her coins and more with it. They should have been looking out for this widow. Instead, they’re living the life high and using religion to justify it. They’ve been abusing their position of authority for way too long. We don’t have time to look through the minor prophets’ writings; however, time and again, God warned these leaders to quit killing and eating his sheep. They were supposed to care for the sheep. rd v 44; She has nothing now. That’s their abuse.
app.: shame on us as leaders for ever guilting the poor into giving their last dime for our projects. How many grand and majestic edifices tower across the United States as monuments to the work of men and yet, having been built by fleecing the poor. It’s easy for me to look at preachers and evangelists on radio and television who have built empires at the expense of the poor. These men and women own multiple mansions and massive amounts of property; and the nicest jets!
Some of you from time to time ask me about preachers on TV. Chances are, if they’re on TV, I have a pretty dim view of them. One such preacher is Creflo Dollar. I’ve made it a policy not to criticize preachers. That’s not my job; however, it is my job to warn you of shysters who would love to steal your money for their gain.
Ill.: He has long been criticized for living a lavish lifestyle; he owns two Rolls-Royces, a private jet and has raised another $65 Million to purchase another jet, and real estate such as a million-dollar home in Atlanta, a $2.5 million home in Demarest, New Jersey, and a $2.5 million home in Manhattan, which he sold for $3.75 million in 2012.
As I think of men like Creflo, I’m reminded of v 40b; They will receive the greater condemnation.
I told you I don’t like to criticize other preachers. I don’t want to. But you need to beware of men and women on TV asking for your money.
But I don’t get off scot free! I’ve got to take a serious inventory of my intensions and motives. It’s the religious leaders Jesus is talking to here. That’s me. I know that.
t.s.: in 13.1 they are leaving the temple proper when one of the disciples notes the beauty and grandeur of this magnificent structure. He’s looking at the physical plant, but Jesus wants him to see into the future.
III. A Glimpse of what is to come (13.1-2)
exp.: I don’t know if they’ve missed what’s been going on or just what has led to this moment. But Jesus tells them plainly what is going to happen here. rd v2; They leave and cross the valley to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus and these two sets of two brothers approach him and ask for more details about the end times.
We’ll look at these teachings of Jesus next week.
Conclusion: So, what do we take home with us today?
- We have to be careful about the context of Scriptures when reading. In the last few weeks we’ve come across some popular Scriptures that are often taken out of context.
- 24: asking God for whatever you want
- 41-44: Sacrificial giving
Scripture taken out of context can be used in any selfish way you want. But that is a very scary thing. I’ll refer you back to 12.40b – they will receive a great condemnation
- The theology of Mark teaches us that Jesus is Lord. It’s what we confess when we are saved: Romans 10.9-10; there are many who understand Christ was a good teacher and that he lived a good life. But don’t think that is all. Mark wants us to come to terms as the Centurion did: Truly, this was the Son of God.
- The theology of Mark teaches us that Jesus is still in charge – just as he was then. I’ve wondered why the Prime Minister of Israel gave the Temple Mount back to the Arab world after capturing it in the Six-Day War. Israel repelled a surprise attack and was victorious causing great humiliation for the Egyptian and Syrian leaders. Many of them resigned their posts in humiliation. But then, in a strange turn of events, to bring peace between the people – the Israeli Prime Minister gave the Temple Mount back to the Muslims! Israel had been unable to return to the Temple Mount for 2,000 years. Now they marched right on in and then, just gave it back! There must have been tremendous excitement and another tremendous let down. But, here’s what I do know. God is working his plan to perfection. He knows what he is doing.
- I’m just curious, but is there a group of people who would like to go to Israel with me? It’s an odd invitation, but I’d love to return and spend a little more time in certain places. If you’d like to plan a trip with me, let’s talk. I think it would be fun to plan a trip to see the places we read about in Scripture.