Guest Post: Mark Twelve by Dan Olson

Each week throughout the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, we will have a guest post from various pastors, church planters, missionaries, professors, bloggers, etc. I will always post them on Tuesdays. This week, Dan Olson has provided his reflections on Mark's twelfth chapter.

Dan spends his days at a desk for a Minneapolis Health Insurance company.  The path to that desk was circuitous – through Crown  College and Wheaton for degrees in Missions and Intercultural Communications, a year as a nanny in Belgium and a habit of taking missions trips.  His wife Ingrid and oldest son leave in a few weeks to serve orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia. For many years, Dan has also served faithfully in leadership at First Baptist Church (FBC) and currently helps to lead an Adult Community Group at FBC.

What does this chapter tell us about who Jesus is?

Jesus has been here before, with the religious leaders gathered around him, amazed at his wisdom. He stayed behind in the Temple at age 12, listening and asking questions.  Now, however, there is opposition, challenges to his authority as chapter 11 ends.  The questions fly after he describes the coming judgment against the evil tenants; religious leaders craftily working to turn the crowd against him with his responses since they recognize the growing reputation of Jesus.

Jesus understands the traps in the questions, because he understands the people asking.  The Pharisees and Roman sympathizers focus on tipping him onto the Roman sword if He responds with a challenge to the Roman occupation or turning away the crowds with an unpopular pro-Roman message.  The Sadducees offer a question that is meaningless to them – they don’t believe a word of it.

The final man asks a question unbound by power and religion.  Jesus responds with words spoken in every Jewish home by rote and by heart for half a millennium.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a] 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Dt 6:4-9

What does this chapter tell us about what it means to follow Jesus?

The man’s response tells us all we need to know – The burnt offerings and sacrifices were the core activity at the temple, but love of God at an essential level and the extension of that love to others trumps it

This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law. Mk 12:33b

What in particular stands out to you from this chapter in Mark?

The questions we ask of God are without end. We are little different than the people gathered around Jesus in the Temple then.  Some of us are threatened by losing the power we hold, others hold twisted beliefs so strongly that every path circles back. Some of us just want direction. “Why did this happen to me?” “Why did you take them so soon?” What should I do with my life?”  “Should I marry this person?” “Will you save those I love?”  “Do you exist?”

Go ahead, ask your questions.  He knows the traps you set for Him and he knows when you ask from a quiet heart.  Weigh the answers you hope for against the power of Loving God and Loving others.  Then you too will not be far from the kingdom of God.

Questions for application:

Are you in the middle of desperate schemes that cannot pan out in light of Heaven?

Are you still asking questions of God?

Are you listening at his feet for the response?

When you hear the call, will you walk away or to him?