Mark 12

What Jesus Wants

Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”      Mark 12:17

During the days before His crucifixion, Jesus spent many hours teaching at the temple. In the parable of the vineyard owner, He let the religious leaders know that He was aware of their murderous intentions and that they would be held accountable for their actions (Mark 12:1-12). Just as the tenant farmers disdained the owner’s son in the parable, the religious leaders disdained Jesus, the Son of God. They didn’t give to Jesus the respect, and therefore the worship, He deserved.

But His warning didn’t stop them. Instead, they sent more people to “catch him in his words” (Mark 12:13). And, as usual, Jesus turned their tricky questions into declarations of truth. After responding to three other questions in verses 13-34, Jesus asked a question designed to lead the religious leaders back to the truth of His identity.

In verses 35-37, Jesus referred to Psalm 110. Every Jew knew the Messiah would be David’s descendant. That’s why the people shouted, “Hosanna, to the Son of David” when Jesus entered the city a few days earlier (Matthew 21:9). Jesus wanted the religious leaders and the crowd to understand fully that the Messiah wasn’t merely the Son of David. He was the Son of God. In essence, Jesus asked, “Why would David call the Messiah, ‘Lord,’ if the Messiah were simply his biological son?”  The nature of the question implies the answer: The Messiah is not human. He is divine. He is David’s LORD (Yahweh, the great I AM). The religious leaders knew what Jesus meant but refused to accept it.

Sometimes we sit piously in our pews and think, “How could the religious leaders have been so hard-hearted and hard-headed? Why didn’t they recognize Jesus was the Son of God?” And yet often we are no better than they. Like the tenant farmers in the parable, we do not respect, or worship, the Father’s Son, our Master, as we should.

To each of us, Jesus says, “Loving me with all your heart . . . is more important than any act of service you could offer” (v. 32, paraphrased). As His servants, our hearts, our lives, belong to Him. Will we give to God what is God’s?


Study Jesus’ interaction with the religious leaders in Mark 12:13-34. What is important to the religious leaders? What is more important to Jesus? As His servants, what should be important to us?

Contrast what Jesus says about the tenant farmers (vv. 7-9) and the scribes (vv. 38-40) with what He says about the widow (vv. 41-44). What would He say about you?

Read Psalm 118. Jews sang this psalm during Passover. Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22-23 in Mark 12:10-11. What other verses in the psalm refer to Jesus’ role as Messiah?

Read Psalm 110. Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1 in Mark 12:36. What other references to Jesus’ future role as King of kings are contained in the psalm? What verses refer to His current ministry in heaven on our behalf?

Denise K. Loock

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