A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

Mark 12:13-37 - The Gospel of Mark

Bible study


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 12:13-37

We are now in the closing chapters of Mark and seeing the last events of the life of Christ on earth. We see the strong resistance of unbelievers to the claims of Christ and the struggle of the disciples to come to terms with what was happening. All was so confronting, threatening, and intimidating. But we see Jesus, strong, resolute, knowing what He had come into the world to do.

We are now in the last days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Verses 13 & 14 Later, they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch Him in His words. They came to Him and said, ”Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?

As we see as we read on, this was a trap. They were asking this question in the hope that He would answer in a way that was disloyal to the Roman rule. Then they would have something to report against Him. At the same time, Jewish people generally strongly disliked the Romans. Notice how they introduced the question. They wanted to flatter Him but turned out saying what was exactly true about Him.


Verses 15-17 But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” He asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin and He asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s”, they replied. Then Jesus said to them. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

Jesus wasn’t about to fall into their trap. His answer was one that no-one could argue with. He was inferring that we should acknowledge those who were ruling. This could be done without denying our first responsibility to God.

Verses 18 & 19 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him with a question.
“Teacher” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother.”

This was a rule given by Moses for the preservation of family lines. It was particularly for that time, like many other laws which would not last.

Verses 20-23 “Now there were seven brothers. The first one died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

These men thought they had a certain victory coming to them with a question like this. They didn’t believe in a resurrection (the raising of the dead in a future time) and wanted to make the concept look silly. Instead, they were looking silly themselves as the question had no substance. It was a sheer invention on their part and such a situation could never exist.

Verses 24 & 25 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry or be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

So ends their argument. Note how Jesus is in control in these encounters. As He has authority to speak, so He is never caught short, or lacking an answer. How we all must listen to what He has taught. It is truth, pure and precious.

Verses 26 & 27 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

These words were said at the time Moses saw the burning bush in the desert and went to it, only to find God was to speak to him. God was saying that he was the God of men who were not dead in the sense of not being at all alive or conscious, but men who still had existence. So death does not end all, and resurrection awaits.

Verse 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

This was a period of question and answer, testing Jesus and looking to find fault. But this man sounds more sincere. His question is a good one and signifies something of central importance. He may of course, been entering the conversation because he liked debate.

Love the Lord

Verses 29-31 “The most important one,” answered Jesus,” is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one; love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than these.”

This is very plain and easy to understand. There is nothing greater so it means giving it full attention. But you and I will find it hard to live up to this height. We badly need to be in touch with God in a personal way to have the power to love like this. We should file this in our memory and never forget it.

Verses 32 & 33 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but Him. To love him with all your heart, with your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

He was a man who understood more than most. The other questioners were caught up in following the rituals and observances of Old Testament law, hoping that would make them right with God. But it is the inward life that counts. We need to be new people in Christ before we can be acceptable to God the Father.

Verse 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on, no-one dared ask Him any more questions.”

Those who came to Him with questions seemed to think they knew more than Jesus did and that they would be able to confound Him. Now they were seeing how wrong they were.

Verse 35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David?”

Now it is the Lord’s turn to ask a question. He is referring to their teaching that the expected Messiah, the Anointed One, would be born in David’s family line. He is not disputing that. The Christ is to be the son of David.

Verses 36 & 37 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ David himself calls Him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be His son?” The crowd listened to Him with delight.

The reasoning is this. The Messiah is to be a son born in David’s line. Yet God the Father has said to David’s Lord (the Son of God) ‘sit at my right hand...etc (In Psalm 110) so how can David refer to his son as his Lord? No son is Lord to his father. So Jesus is pointing out that the divine Messiah is man and yet is Lord. That God could become man is out of the question to most of His hearers.


That God has become man is a fact of history. Jesus Christ cannot be explained in any other way. We must bow the knee to Him rather than bring up all sorts of questions that put us off the scent. The evidence is on every page of our New Testaments and no doubt Mark has written to let us see the majesty of the Saviour of the world.

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