Jesus, his authority over my life (Mark 11-12)

Publié le 2 avril 2022 dans Traductions

Sermon preached by Pastor Vincent Bourrel on 20th March 2022

We are continuing our series in Mark. Up until now, we have been making our way to Jerusalem, and 3 times (ch 8, 9, 10) Jesus announces that in Jerusalem he will be condemned to death, handed over to the Gentiles, who will mock him, spit on him, beat him and kill him, and then 3 days later he will rise from the dead.  

In chapter 11 Jesus enters Jerusalem and in that same week all that he announced will happen to him. On Monday Jesus enters the city triumphantly, on Tuesday he drives the sellers out of the temple, on Wednesday he tells the shocking parable and answers the trick questions of the Sanhedrin, on Thursday he has a last meal with his disciples, on Friday he is condemned and crucified and dies, and on Sunday he rises from the dead. 

Since the beginning of the gospel, Jesus’ life has been on observation, and even the demons have recognized « you are the holy one of God. » People who have witnessed his miracles have said « who is the one who obeys the wind and the sea », they have heard his words and have said, « never has a man spoken like this man », and they have seen his compassion, his grace and his power. So when he enters Jerusalem, the crowd acclaims him as the Messiah (11.9-10) and Jesus behaves as such:  

– He enters Jerusalem sitting on a colt and fulfills Zechariah 9:9. He is not a king like the others (he is humble). 

– He enters the temple, drives out the sellers and reminds us of 11.17 Is 56.7, he is the owner of the place and wants to be prayed to by all people.

– He announces the judgment of the unfruitful religious. The withered fig tree.

His authority is manifest and must be recognized or opposed. One cannot say, « What an interesting guy this Jesus is! » He is God, so he has all authority. You either accept his authority or you fight it. The chief priests and scribes have  chosen: they seek to destroy him (11:18). Why?

Because Jesus turns their lives upside down: everything is going well for them, they have put God in a box, they give him a day in the week, a little money, in this way they appear rather good, respectable… The temple allows them to set up a little commerce, earn a bit of money using the space reserved for non-Jews to come and pray. This way they won’t come. That way we’re amongst ourselves and everything’s fine.  

But Jesus presents himself as the owner of the place, as God who comes to reign over hearts, to ring in the harvest…  

Oh no, they don’t want that, they don’t want it to change.  

Do you rejoice at the coming of Jesus in your life? Or are you afraid that he will upset it? You want to come on Sundays to hear a little about him, but you don’t really want him to rule your life, your plans, your relationships, your finances… If  I acknowledge Jesus as the authority in my life then I will have to end this relationship that I know displeases him, I will have to stop doing those things that he hates, stop going to those parties where I behave like someone who doesn’t  know God, or I will have to humble myself and acknowledge my wrongdoings towards this person in my family or my circle of friends that I have offended… I  don’t want it to change.  

If I recognize Jesus as the authority in my life then I will have to leave my place as a spectator and become an actor, taking a public stand for him through baptism.

Who is the authority? Who is to rule our lives? This is the big question of chapters 11- 12. In chapter 12 all the greatest authorities are present: the Pharisees, the Herodians,  the Sadducees (members of the Sanhedrin = Jewish government under the Roman  occupation), there is also Caesar (the emperor = the most powerful person of the  time, worshipped as a god), Moses (the greatest person in the history of Israel,  the liberator, the lawgiver), Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the patriarchs), David (the greatest king of Israel). And there is Jesus.  

They still ask the question « by what authority do you do these things? » They act as if they don’t know. Then Jesus in turn asks them a question about John the Baptist: did his baptism come from heaven or from men? (v.30).

Only a few months ago thousands of people came to the desert to hear John,  repented of their sins and were baptized. They knew that it is not a man, but God who does such work. It is as if you have been coming to our church for years and hearing testimonies of conversion to Christ, you have witnessed changed lives, joy, love, you have attended missionary conventions you have heard testimonies of Christians persecuted for their faith, who joyfully gave up a comfortable life for the love of Christ and their church. You have witnessed spectacular answers to  prayer… You have witnessed these things and you say, like the religious who questioned Jesus: No, I don’t know if God is really doing this.

It’s not that you don’t know but that you don’t want to know. Because Jesus is going to turn your life upside down. 

After having told them (v. 11.33) « Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things, » Jesus addresses a new parable to them (12.1-11).

Reading Mark 12:1-44

By despising his grace you condemn yourselves (1-11)  

The vineyard is Israel, the servants sent are the prophets of whom John the Baptist  is the last. And the wicked vinedressers are the leaders of the nation of Israel who  will condemn and betray Christ. Jesus knows of their criminal plans towards him,  but he announces that he will also be their judge.  

Illustration: imagine Ukrainian refugees who have lost everything, they have seen their homes reduced to dust by bombs, they have fled to France and someone provides them with a furnished villa with a swimming pool, the fridge is  full, everything is taken care of. The owner sends a friend to check up on them and collect a word of gratitude for the owner and instead of offering him a coffee they send him away, they don’t have time to receive him, they are busy bathing in the pool…  

You see the problem.  

But you see, sometimes we tend to live this way. Everything has been given to us by grace: what do you have that you have not received? What did you do to be born in France (a free, stable, rich country)? What did you do to receive the  education you received?  

We want the gifts but we don’t want to know about the giver. v.6 He still had a beloved son (just as He announced at Jesus’ baptism and during the transfiguration, « This is my beloved son… »), they will have respect for him. But they killed him. (cf 12.12b)  

But Jesus continues with this question v.9 « What will the owner of the vineyard do? » And the answer is obvious: he will judge and condemn these men. And then he quotes Ps. 118: Jesus is the rejected stone. How did they reject him? By killing him. But this stone becomes the cornerstone on which everything stands and aligns itself. How does this happen? By his resurrection.

=> A true disciple is someone who accepts the authority of God in his life. He  recognizes that he is not self-made, that he has a creator who takes care of him.  

They want to put him to death, but they fear the crowd (12.12) so the goal is to  turn the crowd that cheered for him on Monday so that on Friday they will shout  « crucify him » and also convince the Romans to execute him, because the Jews  under Roman occupation are not allowed to execute anyone. And for the Romans  to execute Jesus, the Jews have to prove that he is a threat to Caesar, to Rome.  

So they set traps for Jesus through 3 questions.  

In each answer Jesus asserts his authority and explains what a true disciple of  Jesus looks like.  

You do not belong to yourselves but to God (13-17)  

v.13, clearly shows the evil intentions of the Pharisees and Herodians (these are 2  parties that usually oppose each other, Mélanchon/Zemmour). They want to trap  Jesus by his words. v.14 what they say is true but they do not believe a word of 

it, they are hypocrites. Here is the question: « Is it allowed to pay tribute to Caesar  or not? Should we pay or not pay? »  

If Jesus answers YES, he loses his popularity. The people love him because they  see him as the Messiah who will deliver them from the Romans, but if they think  Jesus is betraying them then they will kill him. If he says NO then he openly  opposes the Roman Empire and if he attacks the empire then the Empire… strikes  back! They want him to die either by the crowd or by Rome. They are really  cunning, vicious.  

But Jesus’ answer is brilliant.  

He asks for a coin to be brought to him: « Whose image is on this coin? It is the  image of Caesar. Then Jesus answers « Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s » and  adds « and to God what is God’s ». Render to Caesar his coin, but render to God that  which bears his image. On what did God put his image, his effigy? Ge 1.26 Man  and woman were created in the image of God, we bear the image of God, we  belong to him.  

Pay the tax to whom you owe the tax and give yourselves to God, submit to him,  serve him.  

=> A true disciple of Jesus is someone who recognizes that his or her life belongs  to God. Is this a reality for you? They are stunned v17  

You will be resurrected (18-27)  

Mark reminds us that the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, in life after  death. They are religious people attached to the books of Moses (the law). And  they think that in these books God does not speak of resurrection. This is decisive  for their vision of the world. If this life is the only thing that counts, we seek wealth,  power, and prominent positions. If this means collaborating with Rome, they do  so.  

The question of the Sadducees aims at showing the absurdity of the faith in the  resurrection and thus at undermining the authority of Jesus. Here is the question:  He refers to the well-known Jewish law of the Levirate. If a married man dies  before having children, his brother (who is still single) must marry his widow and  give her offspring in order to preserve the name and heritage of the deceased. But  here is the most unlikely case, but perfect in their eyes to discredit Jesus and the  doctrine of the resurrection, v.20-23.  

But again, by his answer Jesus affirms his authority v.24. You have it all wrong  because you don’t understand the Scriptures or the power of God. This is a bit  provocative on Jesus’ part because the Sadducees think they are experts on the  Law of Moses. Jesus says first v.25 that the resurrection life to come in the new  creation is not an extended earthly life, an extension of what we live now, but an  entirely new dimension. We will be like angels. Marriage is a temporary reality for  this life. That must certainly encourage some!  

In v.26 Jesus mentions an expression from the Law of Moses known to all Jews,  especially the Sadducees, about a passage that everyone knows. When God spoke  to Moses from a burning bush that was not consumed (Ex 3:6) he said to him « I  am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob ». By the time God  speaks these words to Moses, these patriarchs are long dead. God does not say « I  was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob », the use of the past tense would have  been justified if these 3 men no longer existed. But God says « I am their God, they  still worship me because they now live a resurrected life. » He is the God of the  living, not the dead. 

In the New Testament it is always taught that through faith in Christ you pass from  death to life, eternal life. The moment you recognize God as your Savior you live.  

=> A true disciple of Jesus is someone who has passed from death to life. It is  someone who has believed the word of God and his power to give us eternal life.  The Sadducees knew what the Bible said but did not understand its meaning, did  not understand its promises. They knew the Scripture but did not know its power.  Are you ready for the life to come? Don’t miss this question.  

Does the resurrection give meaning to your whole life?  

The resurrection is a wonderful reality. Our life here is characterized by sadness,  suffering, sin. But this life has an end and we will receive a glorified, perfect body.  We will love God perfectly and we will love one another perfectly. We will have  perfect obedience. We will never again be exhausted, never again know boredom,  discouragement, disappointment. But we will know eternal joy, « there will be no  more mourning, no more crying, no more pain, for the former things will be gone. »  

It is the love for God and your neighbor that matters (28-34).  This time it seems that there is some sincerity in the person who asks the question.  He is a scribe (Pharisees), he believes in the resurrection, so he is very satisfied  with Jesus’ previous answer. The rabbis had listed 613 commandments in the  Pentateuch. (248 obligations and 365 prohibitions) and of course some are  considered very important, others are important, some not very important… So  the religious people were constantly debating which commandment was the most  important. And you Jesus, what do you think?  

By quoting the passages of Deuteronomy and Leviticus known to all Jews Jesus  affirms his total solidarity with Moses and with the Word of God.  v.29-31  

=> a true disciple is someone who loves God with all his heart and his neighbor  as himself.  

The life of the Sanhedrin was made up of rules, rituals, and religion but in reality  they did not really love God and their neighbor.  

You can do things without love, but you can’t love without doing things.  

Imagine that your relationship is not going well and you come to me for advice.  And I come up with a long list of do’s and don’ts: Refrain from negative comments  towards your spouse, do an act of kindness for her (make her a cup of tea when  she comes home from work), Offer her a gift, Thank her for a positive trait of her  character, Encourage her in her work, Unburden her (an administrative task, an  errand…), Greet her with a smile and a kind word, Do something for her that is  out of the ordinary (fold the laundry)…  

A list of 613 commandments.  

If you love your spouse you will probably do all this and more. But you can also  see that you can do all this without love, just to have peace at home and live your  life as you want with a « good conscience ». But this is not the kind of relationship  your spouse wants. She doesn’t want you to do things because I told you to do  them but because you love her.  

The love Jesus is talking about is true love, deep devotion, the kind of devotion  that influences decisions, that desires to serve and not be served, that gives 

sacrificially for the good of others. Such a person is a powerful witness and a  blessing to others.  

The scribe is satisfied with Jesus’ answer and repeats his words. And Jesus says to  him « you are not far from the kingdom of God ». This is an encouragement AND  also a warning. You are not far, but you are not there yet. What does he lack? To  say in front of everyone, « Jesus, you are the only God, teach me to love you with  all my heart”.  

They did not succeed in discrediting Jesus and they had nothing to accuse him and  put him to death. On the contrary, Jesus answered with wisdom from on high. v.34  « No one dared to ask him any more questions » In fact, the more questions they  asked him, the more his authority became apparent.  

So it is Jesus who offers them a riddle, which is actually the answer to the original  question « by what authority do you do these things? »  

Jesus’ question v.35-37  

David is the greatest king Israel has ever known. And everyone recognizes that  the Messiah must be a descendant of David (Bartimaeus in 10:47 called Jesus Son  of David, and Jesus on the colt is acclaimed as the Son of David). Public conception  is that the Messiah is a man, an extraordinary earthly leader who will defeat the  enemies of Israel, he is a liberator.  

Yet David calls the Messiah « my Lord » and here is Jesus’ question: How can the  Messiah, the Lord, be his descendant? In other words: is the Messiah the son of  David or the Lord of David? Jesus is not denying that the Messiah is a descendant  of David, but he says that in Ps 110 David (inspired by the Holy Spirit) calls the  Messiah « his Lord ». And this Lord will receive the supreme authority, he will sit at  the right hand of the Father, and crush his enemies. How is this possible?  

Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is fully man and fully God. This is the great truth that  explains by what authority he does these things.  

=> A true disciple is one who has recognized the divinity of Jesus and accepts that  he rules over his life.  

The conclusion is quite clear in this passage (v.38-44) Jesus contrasts the  hypocrisy of the religious leaders and the sincerity of this widow. She is a true  follower of Christ and they are not. She has chosen to follow and love Christ with  all her heart, she submits to his authority, she depends on him completely and she  loves and trusts him, she is convinced that she belongs to him, she lives in the  hopes of the resurrection. They think they are authorities but they will be judged  more severely v.40.  

Who is Jesus for you? Does he have authority over your life?