November 9th, 2006
When all is said and done, what is the most important thing in the whole world that you can do? There are so many good and worthwhile things that you could do. You can go after happiness; you can seek power; you can try to become famous; you can feast on the finest food and drink; you can travel and explore every corner of the world; you can lead a high-octane lifestyle and experience the thrills and spills; you can build monuments or write books. But what is the most important thing you can do? In today’s reading Jesus gives us the top two most important things.
Mark’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 12
12:1 He spoke to them in parables, “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a pit for the winepress, built a tower, rented it out to some farmers, and went to another country. 12:2 When it was time, he sent a servant to the farmers to get from the farmers his share of the fruit of the vineyard. 12:3 They took him, beat him, and sent him away empty. 12:4 So he sent another servant to them, and they hit him in the head and insulted him. 12:5 He sent another, whom they killed, and many others, some of whom they assaulted, and some of whom they killed. 12:6 He still had one, his beloved son, and he sent him to them last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 12:7 But the farmers said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him and the inheritance will be ours.’ 12:8 They took him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 12:9 So what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers, and will give the vineyard to others. 12:10 Have you ever read this prediction: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has been made the head of the corner. 12:11 This was done by the Lord, and it is marvellous in our eyes’?”
12:12 They would have arrested him if they had not been afraid of the crowd because they could see that he told the parable against them. They left him and went away. 12:13 They sent some Pharisees and Herodians to see if they could trap him with words. 12:14 They came and asked him, “Teacher, we know you are honest and teach God’s truth without caring if it upsets anyone because you don’t need approval from people. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 12:15 Should we pay, or should we refuse to pay?” But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said, “Why are you trying to trick me? Bring me a denarius, and show it to me.” 12:16 They brought it. He asked, “Whose is this image and inscription?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 12:17 Jesus answered, “So give Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and give God the things that belong to God.” They were amazed by him.
12:18 Some Sadducees who say that there is no resurrection came and asked, 12:19 “Teacher, Moses instructed, ‘If a man’s brother dies, leaving a widow but no children, his brother should marry the widow, and have children on his brother’s behalf.’ 12:20 There were seven brothers. The first married a wife, and died childless. 12:21 The second married her, and died childless. The same thing happened to the third, 12:22 and eventually all seven married her and left no children. Last of all the woman died. 12:23 In the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven? All seven had her as a wife.”
12:24 Jesus answered, “You’re wrong because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God. 12:25 People won’t be married when they rise from the dead. They will be like angels in heaven. 12:26 Concerning the dead, coming back to life — haven’t you read in the book of Moses, about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 12:27 He is not the God of dead people, but of living people. You are therefore quite wrong.”
12:28 One of the religious lawyers heard the conversation and could see that Jesus had answered them well, so he asked, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: 12:30 you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 12:31 The second most important is, ‘You must love your neighbour as yourself.’ No commandment is more important than these.”
12:32 The religious lawyer said, “Well said, teacher, you’re quite right in saying that there is one God and no other besides him, 12:33 and that loving him with all the heart, all the understanding, all the soul, and all the strength, and loving your neighbour as yourself, is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
12:34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” No one dared ask him any question after that. 12:35 Jesus continued, as he taught in the temple, “Why do the religious lawyers say that the Christ is the son of David? 12:36 David himself was inspired by the Holy Spirit to say, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”‘ 12:37 David himself calls him Lord, so how can he be his son?”
The common people listened to him eagerly. 12:38 In his teaching he said, “Look out for religious lawyers who like to walk about in long robes, and have people salute them in the marketplaces, 12:39 and get the best seats in the synagogues and the best places at feasts. 12:40 These people take houses away from widows and say long phoney prayers. They will receive the most severe judgement.”
12:41 Jesus sat opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd donating money into the treasury. Many rich people made big contributions. 12:42 A poor widow came, and she cast in two small coins, worth a couple of dollars. 12:43 He called his disciples and said, “I can guarantee that this poor widow gave more than all those who are giving into the treasury, 12:44 because they all gave out of their abundance, but this woman, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on.”
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