Jesus begins with a parable which is an illustration and never a factual story. “A man planted a vineyard (Israel), and set a hedge around it (protections of promise, place, calling and law), dug a place for the wine vat (fruit and fellowship was the desired outcome), and built a tower (stability and identity).”
The parable goes on to speak of how the vinedressers, who should have been humble and happy to serve, start to beat servants (prophets and priests) who are coming to help them. Finally they killed the son (Jesus) of the man (God) who planted the vineyard.
An example of a downward spiral of self focus and pride of the Israelites and a warning for us. The next few stories focus more on the arrogance of those (Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes)? fighting against God.
1. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Ceasar? Jesus points them to the inscription of Ceasar on the coin and says render to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s.
2. Sadducees make up an unnecessary and complicated trap asking about if an unfortunate hypothetical woman who kept marrying brothers (7) who would all die. They asked who would her husband be in heaven, trying to trap Jesus who said, “are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead they neither marry nor are given in marriage.”
Jesus answers are always simple…same for your life and mine. Any place you and I may be trying to trap the Lord into our way of thinking?
3. The scribes then with no humility try and trap Jesus into picking the best commandment. Remember the 10 commandments had grown to 613 Jewish commandments of which 365 were negative…”don’t do this or that…”. In Psalm 15 David reduced them to 11. Micah 6:8 reduces them to 6. Jesus here reduces them to 2. Paul in Galatians 5:14 reduces them all to 1…Love.
4. After all this Jesus simply says, “Beware of the scribes.”
Mark let’s us know that the religious leaders did not listen to Jesus but “the common people heard Him gladly.”
Are our hearts “pure and unspotted from the world?”
Let’s make sure we are not like these fault finders and manipulators. Working in Spiritual areas while in the flesh always self dealing and excusing their selfish sins under a veneer of spiritual self-righteousness. No bueno!
Jesus ends this hard section of exposing the religious leaders with the simple and delightful story of the widows mite.
“Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury…”
Interesting, after fighting off traps and accusations and intellectual snares of the so called religious leaders, Jesus ends with a real story of a real widow giving all she could quietly and privately. Good reminder to walk in gracious humility with God and others simply doing the one thing at a time the Lord puts in front of each of us and not manipulating and not allowing ourselves to be manipulated by others.
Be encouraged with this: Jesus is watching you and sees your good deeds and quiet sufferings and He is delighted in you!!