<center><bold>Special Insights No. 9
<bold>Second Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Jesus Through the Eyes of Mark”
(Produced by the editorial board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)</bold>
<bold>Insights to Lesson 9: “Last Days in the Temple”</bold>
</center>Our lesson deals with this basic issue: “How did Christ
respond to those who questioned His authority?” But it really involves
much more. It goes to the heart of what constitutes true religion and
faith. It contrasts what God’s people believed religion and faith were
and what Jesus could not leave unsaid. Although, from the beginning
Jesus had been responding to the questions and challenges of the
Jewish leaders, now at the end of His ministry Jesus was intent on
clarifying what is the heart of the gospel.
Before we examine the points of our study, it is important to
understand how this opposition from the different Jewish groups enters
our lives today. Ellen White makes a most startling connection.
“The spirit of Pharisaism is the spirit of human nature; and as the
Saviour showed the contrast between His own spirit and methods and
those of the rabbis, His teaching is equally applicable to the people
of all time” (<italic>Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing</italic>, p.
Too often we speak of the Pharisees as if they are uniquely
unspiritual and opposed to God’s ways. But are we any different? More
importantly, we see our need of Christ when we recognize ourselves in
the Pharisees when we see the depths of sin and its deceptiveness.
This is the meaning of corporate repentance, which brings true
reformation and unity within the body of Christ.
<bold>Mark 11:27-33: The Question of Authority
</bold>The Jewish leaders were upset with Jesus for questioning
<italic>their</italic> authority, yet they countered by questioning
<italic>His</italic>. The “politically correct” thing to do would have
been along the line of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say
it.” But Jesus makes it clear that the integrity of His Father’s house
is foremost in His mind. All His life He has lived by the principle of
doing only what He sees His Father do. The Pharisees did not. Are we
focused on the integrity of our Father? Are we in tune with what our
Heavenly Father is doing? The people thought the Pharisees were. How
can we know our own hearts?
<bold>Mark 12:1-12: The Question of Stewardship
</bold>The parable of the wicked tenants reveals the basis for Jesus’
cleansing of the temple. The Pharisees were placing their wants and
desires before those of God, which is idolatry. This is exactly what
the children of Israel struggled with in the wilderness (see Ex. 17:7;
32:1ff.). Yet did they see that they were rejecting God? What did it
take for them to see their condition?
<bold>Mark 12:13-27: Caesar and God and the Resurrection
</bold>Jesus had initiated the cleansing of the temple and told the
parable of the wicked tenants. The Jewish leaders had asked whom He
thought He was to say and do those things. Now, as an attempt to
reclaim their honor, they begin quizzing Him. The “hard” questions of
paying taxes and the resurrection seem trite when compared to Jesus’
concerns. This is reminiscent of the woman at the well (John 4:16-24)
who asked a theological question about where to worship to deflect the
conviction of Jesus’ offer of cleansing her heart. How often we fail
to gather the blessings of God because of distractions of our own
creation. But as with the woman, Jesus waits patiently in supreme
confidence of the power of the truth. May we grasp His faith and rest
in His power to save to the uttermost.
<bold>Mark 12:28-34: The Greatest Commandment
</bold>The scribe seems to break ranks with the Jewish leaders. He
really wants to know what is most important. Jesus is quick not only
to answer but to encourage him. But oh what he must have paid when the
Jewish leaders confronted him later!
<bold>Mark 12:35-40: Whose Son Is Christ?
</bold>These and the following texts are not discussed in our
quarterly, but they bear greatly upon the lessons Jesus is giving
concerning the Jewish leaders (and us!). It was believed that the
Messiah was to be the son of David, suggesting he would be a political
Savior. When Jesus speaks He shows that David called the Messiah Lord,
thus revealing that the One to come was both God and man. This truth
addresses the questioning of Jesus’ authority spoken of earlier. His
authority for His work is that He<italic>is</italic> the Messiah. He
is not a political leader as the Jewish leaders had taught. He is
exactly what had been promised, Emmanuel, God with us. Only such a
realization of this truth could save them and give them true rest.
<bold>Mark 12:41-44: The Widow’s Mite
</bold>Jesus speaks of the danger of the Pharisees (12:38-40)
including the devouring of widow’s houses. These leaders were not paid
by the state. They were dependent upon the hospitality of the people.
Jesus was pointing out their exploitation of the generosity of the
people. He showed that too many of their prayers were to impress the
people of their piety to gain their confidence. Yet Jesus responds by
sitting and watching as different ones come to the temple to give
their offerings. It is a widow (do we catch the irony) whom Jesus
presents to his disciples. Her sacrifice (1/64th of a common laborer’s
daily wage) is the most worthy offering because of the condition of
the giver’s heart. Notice she believes in and supports the temple to
the extent of giving her all. Yet it is this submission to God’s
authority that is contrasted with that of the Pharisees. This has been
God’s plea to us for a very long time.
“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my
commands always, so that I might go well with them and their children
forever!” (Deut. 5:28).
Jesus spoke hard things for the ears of the people. Hard not because
they were difficult to comprehend, but hard to accept if the people
were to continue as they were. The Laodicean message is most powerful
and will not fail to affect every one. Yet it is not a depressing
message. Note the following statement and how it coincides with what
Jesus said to Simon at his feast (Luke 7:4) concerning Mary and her
love for Him.
“The Laodicean message must be proclaimed with power; for now it is
especially applicable. . . . Not to see our own deformity <italic>is
not to see the beauty of Christ’s character</italic>. When we are
fully awake to our own sinfulness, <italic>we shall appreciate
Christ</italic>. . . . Not to see the marked contrast between Christ
and ourselves <italic>is not to know ourselves</italic>. <italic>He
who does not abhor himself cannot understand the meaning of
redemption</italic>” (<italic>Advent Review and Sabbath
Herald</italic>, Sept. 25, 1900; emphasis supplied).
Christ’s call is for us to see what Mary saw in herself, her
sinfulness and total helplessness to change. Then we too will have the
heart of Mary as she poured out her gratefulness to her Savior. Such
an experience would “lighten the whole earth with the glory of God.”
<flushright>--<italic>Robert Van Ornam
Please forward these messages to your friends and encourage them to
"Insights" on the Internet: http://www.1888msc.org
To subscribe send an e-mail message with subscribe in the body of the
To un-subscribe send an e-mail message with un-subscribe in the body
of the message to: