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Mark Chapter 12

Memory verses for this week:  Josh 21:45  There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. 

Introduction: We continue with our study of Mark this week as we cover Chapter 12.  In last week’s lesson, Jesus made his triumphal entry to Jerusalem fulfilling scripture over in Zechariah Chapter 9.  Jesus purified the temple by driving out the money changers and overthrowing their tables of merchandise.   We closed studying his lesson on faith to the disciples.

I. Parable of Wicked Husbandmen

Mark 12:1  And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.

In his private instructions to the disciples, Jesus spoke plainly and directly to the apostles.  As the crowds gathered around Christ, he began to speak to them in parables.   In verse one, Christ mentions the man who planted a vineyard.   This would remind the people of Isaiah chapter 5 where the vineyard spoke of the house of Israel.   As in that teaching, Jesus is again teaching about Israel.

Isa 5:1  Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

Isa 5:2  And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

Isa 5:3  And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.

Isa 5:4  What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

Isa 5:5  And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:

Isa 5:6  And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

Isa 5:7  For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

The hedge mentioned is a stone fence while the wine vat speaks of a winepress.  The tower would be the top section on the fence where a guard would stand at watch.  These were integral parts of a vineyard.   The owner let it out to husbandmen and went abroad.   Of course this speaks of the nation of Israel and the owner is God.  He lets it out to the husbandmen which are the leaders of the nation of Israel. 

Mark 12:2  And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.

Mark 12:3  And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.

The servant mentioned in verse two speaks of the prophets that God sent to Israel.   Israel always mistreated the prophets of God, and pretty well ignored what they said.

Psa 80:7  Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Psa 80:8  Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.

Israel is of course the vine brought out of Egypt, after they were there 430 years in bondage.   God delivered them and brought them to the land of Canaan by the hand of Moses and Joshua.  In the portion of scripture we read earlier in Isaiah Chapter 5, God looked for good grapes on Israel, and she had brought forth wild grapes.

Hosea 10:1  Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.

Israel in the time of Hosea did not bring forth fruit to God, but rather brought it to themselves.

Mark 12:4  And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.

Mark 12:5  And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.

The prophets were greatly mistreated by God’s chosen nation of Israel.  Why they hated the prophets is not clear, but they rejected some, wounded others, and it says they beat and killed others.

Mark 12:6  Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.

Mark 12:7  But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.

Mark 12:8  And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.

After rejecting the messages of God’s prophets, God sent his only Begotten Son (Jesus Christ) and they killed him.   Because of this, we see God took the spiritual privileges away from Israel and gave them to the Gentiles as we read in Verse 9.

Mark 12:9  What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.

Mark 12:10  And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:

Mark 12:11  This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Mark 12:12  And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.

They may rejected Christ, but now He has become the head of the corner.  The leaders of Israel heard this and acknowledged that this parable was spoken against them.  As we read last week, the leaders feared the people because they reverenced Christ due to his miracles and correct teaching of the scriptures.

Luke 4:21  And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Luke 4:22  And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?

II.  The Question of Paying Taxes

Mark 12:13  And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.

Mark 12:14  And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?

The Sanhedrin had publicly challenged Jesus’ authority in last weeks lesson, and he had silenced them with his wisdom.  Now they send a delegation of Pharisees and Herodians to try and catch Jesus with his words.   They hoped that Jesus would say something that they could use to get him in trouble with either the Law or the Roman government.   They really lay it on think when they call him Master and go on to say things that were true, but they didn’t believe them.  They said “Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man (in regards to pleasing men rather than God), for thou regardest not the person of men, but teaches the way of God in truth.”   Not a single thing spoken was untrue, but they did not truly believe this, but wanted to get Jesus to fall for their trap.  They then ask, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?”   If Jesus spoke against Caesar, they would have something to get him in trouble with the government.    Jesus always taught the way of truth.   They hoped by flattering Christ, they might throw him off his guard.   You know what… Jesus was God.  You don’t trip him up or confuse Him.

Mark 12:15  Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.

Mark 12:16  And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's.

Mark 12:17  And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.

Jesus answers them with a question.   He knew they were being hypocritical, and was not at all fooled by them.   He asks, “Whose image and superscription is written on a the coin?”   They answered, “Caesar’s”.  He then tells them straight on… “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.  If they used money that belonged to Caesar, they should be willing to pay taxes that he required.  It says the marveled at him.   This was no ordinary man, but God himself manifested in the flesh.

John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God.

John 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 

Men may be willing to pay the taxes they owe to the government, but some will not pay the tithes that belong to God.   If we want to be blessed of the Lord, we need to both pay the taxes we owe and the tithes that we owe to the Lord.

Mal 3:7  Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

Mal 3:8  Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

Mal 3:9  Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

Mal 3:10  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Mal 3:11  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.

Mal 3:12  And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

III.  Question of the Resurrection

Mark 12:18  Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,

Mark 12:19  Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

Mark 12:20  Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.

Mark 12:21  And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.

Mark 12:22  And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.

Mark 12:23  In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.

This whole thing was a bit silly and preposterous.  Supposedly, some fellow had a wife and died.  The law stated that if he had no children, his brother was to take his wife that he might have a family.   In this story, all seven brothers die with no children, so they want to know whose wife she will be in the resurrection.  We know the Sadducees didn’t even believe in the resurrection.

Acts 23:6  But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Acts 23:7  And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

Acts 23:8  For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

Mark 12:24  And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

Mark 12:25  For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.

Jesus said they erred because they did not know the Scriptures nor the power of God.  In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage.   We will be more like the angels in that day.

Albert Barnes in his commentary on the New Testament said:

Mark 12:25. Are as the angels That is, as the angels in respect to

connections and relations. What those connections and relations may be we

know not, but this passage teaches that the special relation of “marriage”

will not exist. It does not affirm, however, that there will be no recollection

of former marriages, or no recognition of each other as having existed in this tender relation.

Mark 12:26  And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?

Mark 12:27  He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.

God is not the God of the dead, but he is the God of the living.   We need to know and understand the Word of God, that we might not greatly err like these men did.

W. A. Criswell, in his notes in the Believer’s Bible, said this about the Sadducees.

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection (v. 18), and their question is designed to make belief in the resurrection look ridiculous. Jesus counters their question by firmly asserting the reality of resurrection, and by pointing out the Sadducees’ failure to understand both the Scriptures (which clearly teach resurrection) and the power of God (which accomplishes resurrection). Jesus demonstrates their lack of scriptural understanding by quoting from the Pentateuch (the only portion of the O.T. Scripture which the Sadducees accepted). There God calls Himself “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” meaning that they were alive (now with God), even though they had been dead for quite some time (cf. Ex. 3:6, 15). Jesus also corrects the Sadducees on their understanding of resurrection life. Jesus affirms that it is life of a different order, where there are no marital relations, but the purpose and central focus is communion with God.   [i]


 IV.            The First Commandment

Mark 12:28  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?

Mark 12:29  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

Mark 12:30  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.

After the scribes hear Jesus’ response to the Sadducee’s question, one of them asks Christ a question.  Which is the first and great commandment?  Jesus answers that the first and great commandment is to love God first.   We are to love God with all our heart and our soul and mind and strength.   In other words, we should be wholly and totally given to the Lord in areas of our life.   God is not to be served on Sunday and then set on a shelf all week like many do with their bibles.  (I’m guilty some weeks of not reading my bible every day too.)    But we should read everyday.   All things should gravitate from our relationship with God.   The only way we will ever do that is to stay close to the Lord and give our lives to be directed by the Holy Spirit.   And this takes a renewing of the mind everyday.

Rom 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Rom 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Mark 12:31  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:32  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:

Mark 12:33  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.

Mark 12:34  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.

Jesus goes on to tell the scribe that the second great commandment was to love our neighbor as ourselves.   There are no commandments greater than these two.  This scribe agrees with Christ and goes on to say that there is one God, and there is none other but he.

To love God with all our heart and understand and love our neighbor as himself is more important that all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.   Jesus recognized that the man answered wisely and discreetly and say he is not far from the kingdom of God.   God clearly wants obedience rather than sacrifice.

Heb 10:5  Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

Heb 10:6  In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

Heb 10:7  Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

Heb 10:8  Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

Heb 10:9  Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

Heb 10:10  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.


V.  Jesus’ Question about the Son of David

Mark 12:35  And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David?

Mark 12:36  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.

Mark 12:37  David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

Jesus asks in the temple a question to the people.  How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David?   This was difficult for the people to understand.  God the Father spoke to the son about sitting on His right hand.   David calls Christ Lord, and he questions how then David could be Christ’s father.   But according to the flesh, Jesus was the son of God and came from the line of David.  He was also the Son of God, and so was truly David’s Lord.


VI.  A Warning Against the Scribes

Mark 12:38  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,

Mark 12:39  And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

Mark 12:40  Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

Jesus warns to not be like the scribes.  They loved to be seen of men and be saluted in the marketplace.   They like the chief seats in the synagogues and the upper rooms at feasts.   But in reality, rather than being true to God, they devour widow’s houses and make long prayers to be seen of men.   God wants us to serve from the heart, not to be seen of men.

Luke 18:10  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

Luke 18:11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Luke 18:12  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Luke 18:13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Luke 18:14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. 


VII.  Jesus and the Widow’s Mite

Mark 12:41  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.

Mark 12:42  And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

Mark 12:43  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:

Mark 12:44  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.

Jesus was standing by and watching as the people came by and put in their offerings.   And he watches still today as we make our offerings and gifts.   Jesus said that those that came by and put in large amounts of money did it out of their abundance.  But the poor widow woman, gave all she had.   Sometimes it is good when we give until we have to rely on the Lord to supply for us.   This woman’s offering was small in monetary value, but it is remembered forever by it being recorded in God’s word.

Matthew Henry said this about the woman’s gift.

There was a poor widow that cast in two mites, which make a farthing (v. 42); and our Lord Jesus highly commended her; called his disciples to him, and bid them take notice of it (v. 43); told them that she could very ill spare that which she gave, she had scarcely enough for herself, it was all her living, all she had to live upon for that day, and perhaps a great part of what she had earned by her labour the day before; and that forasmuch as he knew she did it from a truly charitable disposition, he reckoned it more than all that put together, which the rich people threw in; for they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want, v. 44. Now many would have been ready to censure this poor widow, and to think she did ill; why should she give to others, when she had little enough for herself? Charity begins at home; or, if she would give it, why did she not bestow it upon some poor body that she knew? What occasion was there for her bringing it to the treasury to be disposed of by the chief priests, who, we have reason to fear, were partial in the disposal of it? It is so rare a thing to find any that would not blame this widow, that we cannot expect to find any that will imitate her; and yet our Saviour commends her, and therefore we are sure that she did very well and wisely.


If Christ saith, Well-done, no matter who saith otherwise; and we must hence learn, 1. That giving alms, is an excellent good thing, and highly pleasing to the Lord Jesus; and if we be humble and sincere in it, he will graciously accept of it, though in some circumstances there may not be all the discretion in the world. 2. Those that have but a little, ought to give alms out of their little. Those that live by their labour, from hand to mouth, must give to those that need, Eph. 4:28. 3. It is very good for us to straiten and deny ourselves, that we may be able to give the more to the poor; to deny ourselves not only superfluities, but even conveniences, for the sake of charity. We should in many cases pinch ourselves, that we may supply the necessities of others; this is loving our neighbours as ourselves. 4. Public charities should be encouraged, for they bring upon a nation public blessings; and though there may be some mismanagement of them, yet that is not a good reason why we should not bring in our quota to them. 5. Though we can give but a little in charity, yet if it be according to our ability, and be given with an upright heart, it shall be accepted of Christ, who requires according to what a man has, and not according to what he has not; two mites shall be put upon the score, and brought to account, if given in a right manner, as if they had been two pounds. 6. It is much to the praise of charity, when we give not only to our power, but beyond our power, as the Macedonian churches, whose deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality, 2 Co. 8:2, 3. When we can cheerfully provide for others, out of our own necessary provision, as the widow of Sarepta for Elijah, and Christ for his five thousand guests, and trust God to provide for us some other way, this is thank-worthy.  [ii]



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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]W.A. Criswell, Believer’s study Bible [computer file], electronic ed. , Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1991 by the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies.

[ii]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.