Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mark 12:35-40 Jesus is the Messiah & Warns of the Scribes

35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 “For David himself said by the Holy Spirit:
‘The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’
37 “Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” And the common people heard Him gladly. 38 Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, 39 “the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 40 “who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

Jesus having responded to the scribes question about which is the greatest commandment in the previous passage. It then concludes by saying that no one dared question Him again. It may have been that with Jesus’ response, people realized the impossibility of doing just what is commanded of us all. For though the scribe who questioned Jesus agreed with His reply, there is no indication that Jesus commended him or anyone as doing exactly that. That is loving God with all ones heart, soul, and strength and loving ones neighbor as oneself. Therefore we are all dependent on the mercies and grace of God given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified for our sins and raised from the dead for our justification. So that we all might be justified only by faith in Jesus Christ before God. For no one can be justified before God the Father based on their own obedience or righteousness (Rom. 3:26; Gal. 2:16). Jesus then having answered the scribe while teaching in the Temple now says of them, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 “For David himself said by the Holy Spirit:
‘The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’
37 “Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”

Notice first that the scribes had wrongly asserted to the people that the Christ is the Son of David rather than the Son of God. And thus they had wrongly given to David a higher status then that of the Messiah. A serious and fundamental error in their theology, to assert to a mortal man a higher status then the Lord Himself! So then the Lord Jesus refutes their error by citing Psalm 110:1. That’s one part of the passages implications. That David by the Holy Spirit clearly sees himself as having the Messiah as his Lord. Not that he was or would be the Messiah’s father. And thus he does not exalt his person as the scribes were doing, as if salvation were because of, or through David himself. The other is that it is the LORD (that is the Covenant Name of God, YHWH or Yahweh) who is the One who exalts the Christ to His Right hand until He makes His enemies His footstool. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who knows the hearts of all men, new theirs, “Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” And thus Jesus asks them a question: “Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” vs. 37

Now there is no response from the scribes in regards to Jesus’ question. There never is. For their type only like to ask questions; that they might snare people in doctrinal quagmires, but they never answer them. So their exchange concludes with the Scripture simply saying that the common people heard Jesus gladly. Unlike the scribes and Pharisees who always seemed to have a “bone to pick” with Jesus and His doctrine (See John 7:14-24) which is ironic given their lack of understanding of Psalm 110, which is a Psalm of the Messiah and His Triumph over his enemies. Thus never satisfied with the truth, they constantly viewed Christ with suspicion. Not because He did something worthy of such scrutiny rather because He openly challenged their interpretations of the Scriptures when wrong. As well the Lord Jesus refused to keep their non-Scriptural traditions, passed down to them from their fathers which they imposed upon themselves and the people. So they eyed Jesus as a threat, not a friend. Yet in contrast to them, the common people heard the Lord Jesus Christ gladly. Since Jesus Christ by His understanding of the Word of God; which alone is infallible. He brings to light the Scriptures to the common people, making God and Himself readily accessible to them and to all. While they often do not. They may have knowledge of the Word of God but not knowledge that leads one into a grace based relationship with God the Father through the work of Jesus Christ the Son. Instead the Word of God and it's paramount purpose often becomes lost on them, and those they instruct, in their zeal for their traditions. Yet Scriptures most important purpose is to bring people to reconciliation with God and thus Spirit and eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ. That is the simplicity of the gospel. Anyone then who willfully conceals their purpose through their “religion” or their "traditions" or anything else neither loves God, or their neighbor as themselves.
Now within the quoted Psalms passage is God the Father speaking with Christ the Son saying to Him, Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Thus we get a clear picture of the Father-Son relationship in the Old Testament. Which David by the Holy Spirit brings forth for us. Though the passage is emphasizing the Sovereignty of God and the assured victory that not only Christ has over His enemies. But also David and every believer has because of our relationship to God the Father through Him (1 John 2:13-14; 4:4; 5:4 etc.). Now the passage itself is also a direct prophetic reference to the ascension of Jesus Christ back to the Father until God makes all His enemies His footstool. Something that begins to unfold with Jesus Christ’s ascension back to the Father forty days after His resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:1-11). Which made possible the Holy Spirits outpouring and thus our regeneration, that is the Holy Spirit transformation of everyone who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord (John 7:37-39; Titus 3:4-7). And thus our salvation becomes realized with Jesus Christ’s Presence dwelling within us by the Holy Spirit, whom we receive by Faith In Jesus Christ’s Person (Eph. 1:13-14). So first Jesus must gather the elect in Himself in every generation, before God the Father renders the second half of the verses implications unto its finial completion. “Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Now with the Jesus’ ascension back to the Father. Jesus’ intercession for all believers likewise becomes realized to us (See Rom. 8:34; Heb. 4:14-16; 1 John 2:1 etc.). Yet Jesus’ ascension back to God the Father is not the end. For their awaits for us all who believe the Promise of Christ’s return; (or second coming) when He will bring with Himself everyone who has died believing in the Lord to meet with, and be permanently reunited with everyone who believes and is remaining alive on earth with Himself. Therefore as Jesus Christ's crucifixion was the climatic event of history for mankind's redemption from sin and death so Jesus Christ's Second Coming will be the climatic event in history for our deliverance from this present evil age and the bodily death that accompanies it. For on that day we will be forever in the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and lost loved ones. The Apostle Paul says of that day and the Lord’s return: 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thess. 4:16-18

That is the Lord Jesus' promise to every believer. That not even death will separate us from Himself or our loved ones who died believing in the Lord. It's going to be an awesome day when we see our Lord Jesus IN FULL VICTORY who saved not only us, but all those whom we love as well in the Lord. For the first Christians who had actually walked and talked with and ate and drank and laughed and cried with Jesus, and maybe even held Jesus’ hand and thus felt the hand of God on theirs or looked deeply into His eyes. The Promise of His return must have been deeply longed for. For though Jesus sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter, and so much more, there is something about the human person, our person, that longs to be in personal touch, and in communication with, God our Savior. If you have ever lost a loved one to death then you know that looking at a picture of them does not satisfy the longing ache of your heart to be with and see them again. Neither does a conversation with them in a dream, for suddenly you awake and realize that their truly gone. How much more does this longing occur when one has sat done and personally talked with God, Love Incarnate, who took on flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ so that we all might know Him.

The Apostle Paul’s words here then are an expression of his, and us all who have come to experience the love of God and the loss of loved ones who belonged to the Lord; heartfelt longing to be reunited with them in the Lord. No longer suffering the aliments and weaknesses of our mortal flesh and minds, no longer having to endure the ridicule and gossip of the unjust, or the scorning of our faith by the ungodly. No longer having to resist sin and Satan; no longer having to endure spiritual assaults, sleepless nights, or labor unto weariness, no longer having too… For on that day we will be reunited with our Lord and Savior and our loved ones who died in the faith. And we will not only see them, we will all be like Jesus Christ in His resurrection Glory. And thus we will know Him no longer just by Holy Spirit communion, but in Person, in His Kingdom where there is no injustices, no evil, no gossip, no sin, or temptations towards it, just perfect love and peace. That is what we long for, God’s Kingdom come. Not just in our person's, but in every aspect of life. Now that was a mighty digression for sure but sometimes we need to do that to get a broader picture. Yet even in that digression we haven’t even touched on the finer points of the Lord’s second coming, or His rapture of the church, before the tribulation period and His setting up the millennial Kingdom. But that’s for another day. So then Jesus having rebuked the scribes for exalting David over the Messiah, that is Himself and the people having heard Him gladly. Now warns the people of the scribes, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, 39 “the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 40 “who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Vs. 38-40

The impact of Jesus’ Words on a culture that revered the scribes and Pharisees as the most pious of all men must have been startling to His hearers to say the least. Consider then Christ’s Words, for He begins by saying beware of the scribes, rather than commending them to the people as examples to follow. (In Matthew the Pharisees are placed in the forefront, hence their mention here by me as well). Thus Jesus says beware of them. For though their purposes functionally was different, they were quite similar in regards to their character and conduct. And thus the passage entails not just them specifically but also anyone in any generation who makes serving God a means to one’s own end. Though they act outwardly like the most pious and religious of all men. Inwardly they are, as Jesus describes them elsewhere ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15-20). See how Jesus describes them, first He says they desire to go around in long robes, that is in official religious garb that identifies them as men of religion, which does not mean they are men of faith as Matthew 23 clearly reveals. For outer adornment is never to be the measure of ones' faith in God. For in contrast to their dress, Christ’s or His Apostles by their adornment didn't make themselves known as priestly men, yet they were the most pious and priestly of all men; which they were identified as being because of their Spirit, character and conduct, not because of their dress. For if you think you can identify God's servants simply by their clothing, whether by their wearing religious grab or wearing something else you will get duped (Consider Matt. 23:27-28; 1 Cor. 4:11-12; Rom. 8:9). For Satan has his own emissary's who transform themselves into ministers of righteousness (not that they practice it, just that they hypocritically preach it) therefore their end will be according to their works (see 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

Second thing Jesus says of the scribes and Pharisees is that they “love greetings in the marketplaces” that is they not only like to be seen as religious men, but they like to be admonished in the public forum as religious men. Men others pay homage to publicly as such. Something that never marked the early Apostles, since that honor belongs to Christ alone. Indeed the principal that is to govern all member's of Christ's Body is that on those members we think less honorable on these we are to bestow greater honor seems lost on them, while they bath themselves in receiving honor and accolades (See 1 Cor. 12:22-25). Consider then the Apostle Peter when he by the Holy Spirit’s move went to meet with Cornelius the Gentile that the Scripture says “As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” Acts 10:25-26  Therefore obey your church leadership, (with discernment) for that is commanded of us all, but do not put them on pedestals of worship as some do (Heb. 13:17).

The third thing Jesus says that defines the scribes and Pharisees is that they love, “the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts” vs. 39  That is they love the privileges that go with their positions, i.e., the best seats in the synagogues and the best places at the feasts, i.e. seats of honor at dinner engagements and such. In regards to their taking the best places and seats it likely never enters their mind that there might be someone who is elderly or hard of hearing, or disabled, or weak of sight that could really benefit from the seat. Or that there might be someone truly more honorable themselves whom God wants to honor and place in that seat. Now in regards to this the Lord Jesus taught in a parable that taking the lowest place always ensures that one receives honor later; while taking the best places here and now may result in being ask to make way for another later (See Luke 14:7-11). “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 15:11

Jesus then concludes His warning of the scribes and their conduct by emphasizing both their greed and their hypocrisy; saying that they are those “who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Vs. 40 In other words they prey on the most vulnerable; here Jesus emphasizes their exploiting widows and for a pretense making long prayers, something that Jesus warns us about, in His teaching us how to pray, saying that God does not hear hypocritical and unbelieving words though they be many, God hears simple and honest prayers and confessions done in faith. That is where we must start with faith in Jesus Christ and obedience towards Him by keeping His and His Apostle's commandments for that is what we are called to do. Not dress up like religious people or seek privileges through it. But rather conduct ourselves as true people of God, in humble faith, righteousness, grace, truth and most importantly in Christ’s love.

Scripture Quotations
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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