Isaiah 50-52; Mark 12
Mark chapter 12 opens up with some parables that are directly aimed at the hypocrisy of the Chief Priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees. Jesus is direct and confrontational about this. Even though the common folks may not understand the point of these parables, the religious leaders know Jesus is really speaking to them . The Pharisees were focused on trying to trap Jesus in his words, yet they feared the crowds that not only believed he was a prophet, but the Messiah himself. While most of the people depended on others to tell them what the scriptures said because they couldn’t read – the Pharisees could read, but misunderstood the message. Their pride made them refuse to accept the reality that this common man could be the Messiah. From that moment on, Jesus' walk to Calvary was set in motion. Even though the religious leaders tried to appear virtuous and morally upright on the outside, Jesus could discern their hypocrisy and the malice they held toward him in their hearts. This is an important truth that is still relevant for us today. No matter how good and virtuous we may seem on the outside, God has the ability to discern what is truly in our hearts. Here’s the important question you should consider as you read this passage - who do you say Jesus Is? If you get that question wrong, the entire course of your life will stray from the plan that God has for you.
50 This is what the Lord says:
Where is your mother’s divorce certificate
that I used to send her away?
Or to which of my creditors did I sell you?
Look, you were sold for your iniquities,
and your mother was sent away
because of your transgressions.
2 Why was no one there when I came?
Why was there no one to answer when I called?
Is my arm too weak to redeem?
Or do I have no power to rescue?
Look, I dry up the sea by my rebuke;
I turn the rivers into a wilderness;
their fish rot because of lack of water
and die of thirst.
3 I dress the heavens in black
and make sackcloth their clothing.
The Obedient Servant
4 The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are instructed
to know how to sustain the weary with a word.
He awakens me each morning;
he awakens my ear to listen like those being instructed.
5 The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious;
I did not turn back.
6 I gave my back to those who beat me,
and my cheeks to those who tore out my beard.
I did not hide my face from scorn and spitting.
7 The Lord God will help me;
therefore I have not been humiliated;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
8 The one who vindicates me is near;
who will contend with me?
Let us confront each other.[a]
Who has a case against me?[b]
Let him come near me!
9 In truth, the Lord God will help me;
who will condemn me?
Indeed, all of them will wear out like a garment;
a moth will devour them.
10 Who among you fears the Lord
and listens to his servant?
Who among you walks in darkness,
and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord;
let him lean on his God.
11 Look, all you who kindle a fire,
who encircle yourselves with[c] torches;
walk in the light of your fire
and of the torches you have lit!
This is what you’ll get from my hand:
you will lie down in a place of torment.
Salvation for Zion
51 Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.
2 Look to Abraham your father,
and to Sarah who gave birth to you.
When I called him, he was only one;
I blessed him and made him many.
3 For the Lord will comfort Zion;
he will comfort all her waste places,
and he will make her wilderness like Eden,
and her desert like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and melodious song.
4 Pay attention to me, my people,
and listen to me, my nation;
for instruction will come from me,
and my justice for a light to the nations.
I will bring it about quickly.
5 My righteousness is near,
my salvation appears,
and my arms will bring justice to the nations.
The coasts and islands will put their hope in me,
and they will look to my strength.[d]
6 Look up to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and its inhabitants will die like gnats.[e]
But my salvation will last forever,
and my righteousness will never be shattered.
7 Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
the people in whose heart is my instruction:
do not fear disgrace by men,
and do not be shattered by their taunts.
8 For moths will devour them like a garment,
and worms will eat them like wool.
But my righteousness will last forever,
and my salvation for all generations.
9 Wake up, wake up!
Arm of the Lord, clothe yourself with strength.
Wake up as in days past,
as in generations long ago.
Wasn’t it you who hacked Rahab to pieces,
who pierced the sea monster?
10 Wasn’t it you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made the sea-bed into a road
for the redeemed to pass over?
11 And the redeemed of the Lord will return
and come to Zion with singing,
crowned with unending joy.
Joy and gladness will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee.
12 I—I am the one who comforts you.
Who are you that you should fear humans who die,
or a son of man who is given up like grass?
13 But you have forgotten the Lord, your Maker,
who stretched out the heavens
and laid the foundations of the earth.
You are in constant dread all day long
because of the fury of the oppressor,
who has set himself to destroy.
But where is the fury of the oppressor?
14 The prisoner[f] is soon to be set free;
he will not die and go to the Pit,
and his food will not be lacking.
15 For I am the Lord your God
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
his name is the Lord of Armies.
16 I have put my words in your mouth,
and covered you in the shadow of my hand,
in order to plant[g] the heavens,
to found the earth,
and to say to Zion, “You are my people.”
17 Wake yourself, wake yourself up!
Stand up, Jerusalem,
you who have drunk the cup of his fury
from the Lord’s hand;
you who have drunk the goblet to the dregs—
the cup that causes people to stagger.
18 There is no one to guide her
among all the children she has raised;
there is no one to take hold of her hand
among all the offspring she has brought up.
19 These two things have happened to you:
devastation and destruction,
famine and sword.
Who will grieve for you?
How can I[h] comfort you?
20 Your children have fainted;
they lie at the head of every street
like an antelope in a net.
They are full of the Lord’s fury,
the rebuke of your God.
21 So listen to this, suffering
and drunken one—but not with wine.
22 This is what your Lord says—
the Lord, even your God,
who defends his people—
“Look, I have removed from your hand
the cup that causes staggering;
that goblet, the cup of my fury.
You will never drink it again.
23 I will put it into the hands of your tormentors,
who said to you:
Lie down, so we can walk over you.
You made your back like the ground,
and like a street for those who walk on it.
52 “Wake up, wake up;
put on your strength, Zion!
Put on your beautiful garments,
Jerusalem, the Holy City!
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
will no longer enter you.
2 Stand up, shake the dust off yourself!
Take your seat, Jerusalem.
Remove the bonds[i] from your neck,
captive Daughter Zion.”
3 For this is what the Lord says:
“You were sold for nothing,
and you will be redeemed without silver.”
4 For this is what the Lord God says:
“At first my people went down to Egypt to reside there,
then Assyria oppressed them without cause.[j]
5 So now what have I here”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“that my people are taken away for nothing?
Its rulers wail”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“and my name is continually blasphemed all day long.
6 Therefore my people will know my name;
therefore they will know on that day
that I am he who says:
Here I am.”
7 How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of the herald,
who proclaims peace,
who brings news of good things,
who proclaims salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
8 The voices of your watchmen—
they lift up their voices,
shouting for joy together;
for every eye will see
when the Lord returns to Zion.
9 Be joyful, rejoice together,
you ruins of Jerusalem!
For the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has displayed his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
all the ends of the earth will see
the salvation of our God.
11 Leave, leave, go out from there!
Do not touch anything unclean;
go out from her, purify yourselves,
you who carry the vessels of the Lord.
12 For you will not leave in a hurry,
and you will not have to take flight;
because the Lord is going before you,
and the God of Israel is your rear guard.
The Servant’s Suffering and Exaltation
13 See, my servant[k] will be successful;[l]
he will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were appalled at you[m]—
his appearance was so disfigured
that he did not look like a man,
and his form did not resemble a human being—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations.[n]
Kings will shut their mouths because of him,
for they will see what had not been told them,
and they will understand what they had not heard.
The Parable of the Vineyard Owner
12 He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug out a pit for a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went away. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the farmers to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from them. 3 But they took him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent another servant to them, and they[a] hit him on the head and treated him shamefully.[b] 5 Then he sent another, and they killed that one. He also sent many others; some they beat, and others they killed. 6 He still had one to send, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenant farmers said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What then will the owner[c] of the vineyard do? He will come and kill the farmers and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this Scripture:
The[d] stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
11 This came about from the Lord
and is wonderful in our eyes?”
12 They were looking for a way to arrest him but feared the crowd because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. So they left him and went away.
God and Caesar
13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Jesus to trap him in his words. 14 When they came, they said to him, “Teacher, we know you are truthful and don’t care what anyone thinks, nor do you show partiality but teach the way of God truthfully. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
15 But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius[e] to look at.” 16 They brought a coin. “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked them.
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
17 Jesus told them, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
The Sadducees and the Resurrection
18 Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and questioned him: 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife behind but no child, that man should take the wife and raise up offspring for his brother.[f] 20 There were seven brothers. The first married a woman, and dying, left no offspring. 21 The second also took her, and he died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 None of the seven[g] left offspring. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise,[h] whose wife will she be, since the seven had married her?”
24 Jesus spoke to them, “Isn’t this the reason why you’re mistaken: you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised—haven’t you read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God said to him: I[i] am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead but of the living. You are badly mistaken.”
The Primary Commands
28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which command is the most important of all?”
29 Jesus answered, “The most important[j] is Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[k] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.[l][m] 31 The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself.[n] There is no other command greater than these.”
32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, teacher. You have correctly said that he is one, and there is no one else except him. 33 And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding,[o] and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question him any longer.
The Question about the Christ
35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he asked, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself says by the Holy Spirit:
The Lord declared to my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies under your feet.’[p]
37 David himself calls him ‘Lord’; how then can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.
Warning against the Scribes
38 He also said in his teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who want to go around in long robes and who want greetings in the marketplaces, 39 the best seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and say long prayers just for show. These will receive harsher judgment.”
The Widow’s Gift
41 Sitting across from the temple treasury, he watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. 43 Summoning his disciples, he said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had—all she had to live on.”
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.