A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

Mark 11:23-12:12 - The Gospel of Mark

Bible study

Introduction

Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Mark 11:23-12:12

In our last study we entered the final week of Jesus’ ministry. It is often called “Passion Week.” So much happens and a great deal of teaching is given by Jesus, both powerful and vital. It is as though a great collision is taking place. The Son of God is meeting a brick wall of opposition from the heads of Israel’s religious life. There is so much for us to learn in these final chapters.

Verses 23 & 24 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain ’Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it, and it will be yours.”

This is one of many promises about prayer in the Bible. At first, it sounds like anyone can have anything at any time just by asking. But there is no promise about prayer which doesn’t have conditions. God doesn’t simply give everything we request, obviously. In this case, it is more than unlikely that we should want a mountain thrown into the sea. Jesus is showing that things thought to be impossible, are not impossible with God. There are times when we have a strong conviction that we can ask God about something with utter confidence. But that confidence can’t be manufactured. It can only come from the Spirit of God.

Verse 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your sins.

Another condition regarding prayer is forgiveness of those who have offended us. To forgive is not to excuse or condone a wrong, but it means releasing one’s hold on the hurt and letting it go. To hold a grudge does nobody any good. We should ask God to handle the situation and leave it with Him. Notice that God may be reluctant to forgive us if we fail to forgive others.

Verses 27 & 28 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to Him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

Probably the thing these men were mainly referring to was Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. They could not understand how a man could single-handedly overthrow the business that was conducted in the House of God. It was an insult to those He chased out of the place. So they had to recognise authority. But where it was from was their dilemma.

Verses 29-33 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven or from men? Tell me!” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say ‘From heaven,’ He will ask, ‘then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men….” (they feared the people, for everyone held that John was really a prophet.) So they answered “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Jesus often answered a question by first asking a question. In this case He trapped these critics who had not listened to John the Baptist when the common people had. They failed to answer His question so Jesus didn’t answer theirs. It was certain that they already knew what answer Jesus could give as earlier on, they had heard His claim to be the Son of God. Especially in John’s Gospel we read of Jesus’ teaching about himself. The authority was His Father’s.

wineyard
A man planted a vineyard

Chapter 12
Verses 1-5 He then began to speak to them in parables: ”A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.

We know that a parable is a story. A story with a meaning, a lesson to be learned. A vineyard to let was a familiar thing to His hearers. But the treatment handed to the owner’s servants was unusual to say the least. The vineyard is Israel and the servants are the prophets God sent over a period of many years. The Old Testament shows the way prophets were generally treated. They were so often rejected and handled violently. Jesus intended His hearers to realise that it was their forebears who behaved that way.

Verses 6-11 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and the inheritance will be ours.’
So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this Scripture;
‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes.?’

The meaning of some parables is not immediately clear, but this one is as plain as can be. Jesus is showing them their own wickedness in intending to kill Him. The Son of God, was sent by the Father, yet was unjustly condemned to die. It is amazing that even though Jesus gave them this plain message, they didn’t hesitate to go ahead with their plans. The quote Jesus made is from Psalm 118:22-23.

Verse 12 Then they looked for a way to arrest Him because they knew He had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left Him and went away.

How blameworthy they were after seeing the total injustice of the vineyard tenants, to then resolve to kill the Son! Their hatred for Christ was deep rooted and they could not change their minds about Him. Yet the only accusation they could make against Him was that He claimed to be the Son of God. At no time could they find fault or sin in Him, yet they were bent on His execution. Has there ever been a greater miscarriage of justice?

CONCLUSION

While we see the hatred men had for Christ, we must stop and think about the love God had for mankind. Yes, even after all the rejection of the prophets and the ignoring of the rule of God, there was still mercy extended to sinners. Jesus willingly went to the cross because He knew there was no other way for us to be set free, to be forgiven, to enjoy God’s blessings forever. Please note the contrast—man’s unfaithful, treacherous relationship with God and God’s loving offer of forgiveness. As we move on into the happenings of these last days, may we responding the right way to the Saviour’s love and grace. That is, in repentance and faith.

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