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How The Conversation Started
This is the second parable in a series of three, as Jesus pushes back against the scribes and Pharisees grumbling about Him spending time with, as they put it, “sinners.”
Jesus began by sharing the parable of a Lost Sheep. Emphasizing the peril of being lost and challenging the Pharisees understanding of why He was spending time with these people they looked down on, and ultimately pointing them to the blindness of their own sin.
He then transitions into a second story about a lost coin. This time with a different emphasis.
The Lost Coin
8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
– Luke 15:8-10 (NASB)
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A parable is nothing more than a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. This was one of Jesus’ primary teaching methods. Below is the first of three parables that Jesus shared in response to the Pharisees grumbling about Him spending so much time with “sinners.”
The Lost Sheep
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. 2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So He told them this parable, saying, 4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
– Luke 15:1-7 (NASB)
The Pharisees And Scribes Are Unhappy With Jesus
Jesus had gained influence among the every day populace of His day and this did not sit well with many of the religious leaders. The religious leaders of Jesus time, are often found to be condescending to those that were not in their ranks. We see these men in their positions of power, grumbling, because Jesus is choosing to associate with and relate to “sinners.” You can feel the posture of superiority that these religious leaders have. Through their spiritual blindness, they do not consider themselves to counted among these people that they labeled as sinners.
To address the real issue at hand, Jesus launches into a series of stories to confront this attitude in the scribes and Pharisees. Continue reading
This concludes our brief journey through Mark 12:13-17. We hope that you have benefited from what we have shared. At this point each of you should be able to draw some conclusions about the text. These conclusions should now be able to shape your journey of faith.
Below are the major takeaways that our group came up with.
Final Observations And Conclusions
When reading through the entire book of Mark and the other gospel accounts, we find that the Pharisees confronted Jesus on several occasions. The method of operation was to confront Him publicly with a trick question in hopes that He would disparage His reputation with either the Jewish people or the Roman government. But Jesus always proved too crafty for such foolish deceptions. He always answered is such a way that reframed the question and directed His audience to greater spiritual truths.
The Pharisees and Herodians did not have much common ground. In spite of this, they managed to come together and find unity around ensnaring Jesus. Jesus was upsetting the balance of power for both of these groups and they preferred things stay the same. The easiest way to maintain the status quo was to eliminate Jesus from the equation.
The Pharisees were correct in their assessment that Jesus did not show partiality. This seems to be one of the reasons they plotted against Him. It was their partiality in society that they valued. They were treated differently because of their position as religious leaders. Jesus challenged their character and motives just as He would anyone else, even going so far as calling them hypocrites and vipers for the way they dishonored God’s truth.
The Pharisees were amazed that Jesus did not entangle Himself in their carefully constructed web of deceit. This would eventually lead to frustration and desperation, as they would abandon trying to trap Jesus in public and resort to seizing Him in secret.
No matter our motives, Jesus is always pointing us towards a right understanding of God and a right relationship with God.
The heart of what Jesus was communicating dealt with ownership. Whether we accept or reject Jesus, we are all created in the image of God, and God wants us to willing give ourselves to Him. First to be reconciled and then to live in obedience. To do so, expresses an attitude of love towards our Heavenly Father and it keeps us from the consequences of sin.
Below is the text that we have been working with over the past few weeks.
13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.
– Mark 12:13-17
Early on we discussed the importance of learning to ask questions in these two posts: Part 1 & Part 2. Then we talked about evaluating key words and phrases. If you completed both of those exercises your work should look similar to what is below.
As we said in the beginning, not every question you answer will directly contribute to drawing conclusions about this passage of Scripture, but can and will lead to a deeper understanding of other Scriptures. Your effort in study will not be wasted.
Work through the questions below. Does this look similar to your work? Are the answers in line with yours?
Look at your key words and phrases. How do they inform the passage? How do they add clarity or provoke questions? Continue reading
Formatting The Text
During this part of the process, I usually copy and paste the text into a Word document so that I can begin to mark it up. I still have some folks in my church, believe it or not, that do not use a computer. As they were working through this process, they wrote the verse out on a separate sheet of paper.
When I copy and paste I usually format the the text to use double or triple spacing so that I have enough room to make any notations that are needed. I format custom margins so that the top and bottom are set to 0.5″ and the left and right margins are set to 2.0″. This gives me the necessary white space on the page to work with. I also Insert the chapter and verse in the header. Finally, I use the justify format so that my margins are even and the page looks crisp and clean. Continue reading