God’s Word of Prayer
Mark 12:18-44: While in Jerusalem, Jesus continues teaching his followers, and the religious leaders question him about rising from death. In today’s reading, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 and Leviticus 19:18 when teaching about the most important commandment. Jesus denounces the teachers of the Law; and while sitting in the Temple, he observes people as they present their monetary gifts.
The Question about Rising from Death
(Matthew 22.23-33; Luke 20.27-40)
18 Then some Sadducees, who say that people will not rise from death, came to Jesus and said, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote this law for us: ‘If a man dies and leaves a wife but no children, that man’s brother must marry the widow so that they can have children who will be considered the dead man’s children.’ 20Once there were seven brothers; the oldest got married and died without having children. 21Then the second one married the woman, and he also died without having children. The same thing happened to the third brother, 22and then to the rest: all seven brothers married the woman and died without having children. Last of all, the woman died. 23Now, when all the dead rise to life on the day of resurrection, whose wife will she be? All seven of them had married her.”
24Jesus answered them, “How wrong you are! And do you know why? It is because you don’t know the Scriptures or God’s power. 25For when the dead rise to life, they will be like the angels in heaven and will not marry. 26 Now, as for the dead being raised: haven’t you ever read in the Book of Moses the passage about the burning bush? There it is written that God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 27He is the God of the living, not of the dead. You are completely wrong!”
The Great Commandment
(Matthew 22.34-40; Luke 10.25-28)
28 A teacher of the Law was there who heard the discussion. He saw that Jesus had given the Sadducees a good answer, so he came to him with a question: “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
29 Jesus replied, “The most important one is this: ‘Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment more important than these two.”
32 The teacher of the Law said to Jesus, “Well done, Teacher! It is true, as you say, that only the Lord is God and that there is no other god but he. 33 And you must love God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength; and you must love your neighbor as you love yourself. It is more important to obey these two commandments than to offer on the altar animals and other sacrifices to God.”
34Jesus noticed how wise his answer was, and so he told him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
After this nobody dared to ask Jesus any more questions.
The Question about the Messiah
(Matthew 22.41-46; Luke 20.41-44)
35As Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he asked the question, “How can the teachers of the Law say that the Messiah will be the descendant of David? 36 The Holy Spirit inspired David to say:
‘The Lord said to my Lord:
Sit here at my right side
until I put your enemies under your feet.’
37David himself called him ‘Lord’; so how can the Messiah be David’s descendant?”
Jesus Warns against the Teachers of the Law
(Matthew 23.1-36; Luke 20.45-47)
A large crowd was listening to Jesus gladly. 38As he taught them, he said, “Watch out for the teachers of the Law, who like to walk around in their long robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplace, 39who choose the reserved seats in the synagogues and the best places at feasts. 40They take advantage of widows and rob them of their homes, and then make a show of saying long prayers. Their punishment will be all the worse!”
The Widow’s Offering
41As Jesus sat near the Temple treasury, he watched the people as they dropped in their money. Many rich men dropped in a lot of money; 42then a poor widow came along and dropped in two little copper coins, worth about a penny. 43He called his disciples together and said to them, “I tell you that this poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others. 44For the others put in what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, put in all she had—she gave all she had to live on.”
Today’s Key Verse: Mark 12:30
[Jesus said:] “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
What does Jesus say are the two most important commandments? What are your thoughts about what Jesus said? Compare verses 38-40 with the account of what takes place when a poor widow places her two coins in the offering box (verses 41-44). Some teachers of the Law accepted large sums of money from widows for giving advice or for praying for them, and sometimes the widows even gave over their houses in payment. In commending the widow for her offering, was Jesus also condemning the actions of the teachers of the Law? Explain.
Lord God, I love you with all my soul, mind, and strength. With praise and thanksgiving, I offer you my humble and repentant heart as I seek to serve you and my neighbors with a spirit of love and generosity. Amen.
Mark 14:1-31: Jesus observes the Passover with his disciples.