Nearer Now

18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 “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 raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, 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!” Mark 12:18-27

A different group of leaders, the Sadducees, tried to trick Jesus. They knew the Scriptures and revered them, whereas the Pharisees were big on the traditions.

Jesus merely pointed out that life in the Resurrection will be different than it is now. We will have a different purpose, so theirs was a total misrepresentation of the Resurrection, which they did not believe in.

The general takeaway for us, however, is this: we are looking forward to a fantastic resurrection, one in which God Himself will the focus. That day is fast approaching and nearer now than it ever has been.

Lift up your heads, O Christian, for your redemption is nigh.

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When to Walk and When to Talk

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, 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 the imperial tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

And they were amazed at him. Mark 12:13-17

Not only were they trying to trap Jesus, but He knew they were and called them out on it.

Question is, what would they have done if they had caught Him?
Would they have tried to stone Him on the spot?
Would they have arrested Him?

In other places, Scripture tells us the leaders were afraid of the people, so what were they aiming to do? It looks like they were trying to build a case against Him. When He was hauled before the Roman rulers, they told only a portion of the truth of what He said and deliberately distorted His words.

Jesus, however, was always prepared with the right answer for the moment. He knew the very nature of men and He certainly knew these men.

Unfortunately, we do not always have the right words at the right time. Often it’s best we just walk away from a situation rather than try to fight or argue our way out. Knowing when to fight and when to stay and discuss issues is a matter of discernment. Even if your arguments are airtight, will it dissuade the listener or reader? If not, then why waste the time or bandwidth.

Knowing when to walk away is as important as when to stay and fight.

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Didn’t They Realize Who He Was?

27 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. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”

31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)

33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” Mark 11:27-33

The leaders were once again questioning him only to try to trap Him. How sad for them.
Right in front of them is the long-awaited Messiah.
They could have asked Him meaningful questions and enjoyed being in the company of the very Son of God.
They could have asked Him deep philosophical and questions related to salvation, end times, the Trinity, the Word of God, or anything else.
And He would have gladly answered.
He was the Second Person of the Trinity; He was there when it all began.

But no. Instead, they chose to try to trick and humiliate Him. Not only didn’t it work but it was very short-sighted of them.

We approach this kind of treachery when we neglect the Word of God and pray rote prayers.

We hold the wisdom of the ages in our hands if we only recognize it as such.

We have the God of all truth and grace by our side when we go through life, if we only realize it.

It’s not intentional, this neglect. But we forget. We get busy.

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit want our fellowship.

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Faith, Prayer and Forgiveness

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:20-21

The third part to this passage relates to the cleansing of the temple courts and the initial cursing of the fig tree. Israel had ample opportunity to repent of their ways. They were to be fruitful and produce good fruit. Instead they were withering on the tree, much like the barren fig tree.

Jesus then pivoted to telling His disciples about what it takes to bear fruit: faith, prayer, and forgiveness. Seems simple enough. How hard could it be? Well, it’s harder than most people realize since it involves action and tenacity. For instance, it’s easy to pray a day or two about something but much more difficult to pray for a year about the same thing, and yet, God wants His people coming to him. Similarly, it takes just as much faith to believe that God will answer that prayer after that year has passed.

And forgiveness? Example: “They’ve done me wrong 12 times, how could I possibly forgive them 13?” Well, that’s what it takes. By the way, God forgave Israel countless times so there is precedent for it. Would God forgive Israel again? Most certainly. Did they deserve His forgiveness?

Do we?

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Jesus Enraged in the Temple Courts

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. Mark 11:15-18

This is the second part of this 3-part passage. Recall the night before this passage, He went into the temple courts looked around, and left. He knew what He had to do when He returned.

Jesus clearly made a scene in the outer courts that the leaders didn’t take kindly to. They were already looking for ways to rid themselves of Him, but this probably was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. This passage says they feared Him but he also humiliated them. Why? Because they let the common practice of buying and selling sacrifices within the confines of the temple go on, albeit in the outer courts. Leadership no doubt encouraged the activity.

What makes this part of the passage so intriguing is that it showed an outbreak of emotion directed not at the vendors necessarily, but at the leadership for permitting it to continue. This is what the Son of God got angry at: liars and cheats and those who had wanton disrespect for the house of God.

Don’t forget Jesus was still preparing His disciples for ministry because they would be called upon to do some unpleasant things. They needed to know it would be okay to display righteous anger at the appropriate times.

We may be called to do the same. This was a seemingly rare occasion for Jesus. There were a number of times He could have been outraged at how others were being treated or even how He was being treated, so tread lightly. Not everything calls for righteous anger, but some things certainly do.

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