March 8

Mark 12:1-27

Jesus tells a story of wicked vinedressers.

The land belonged to the landowner. He represents God.
The vine dressers worked the vineyard. They were the religious leaders.
God sent servants to the vineyard but they were not received. These are the prophets.
God sent Jesus, His Son, but the religious killed Him, too.
God came after the vinedressers and destroyed them so others could work and share the grapes in the vineyard. These are Christ’s followers who work in His kingdom.

In verses 13-17, The Pharisees and Herodians wanted to find Jesus guilty of the Law or coming against Rome, so they came to challenge Him about taxes. They were amazed that He answered in a way so that He did not incriminate Himself.

In verses 18-27, in Sadducees questioned Jesus about the resurrection, from their point of view, not believing in life after death. They couldn’t wrap their minds around eternity, finding conflict in people being married to more than one person, if in this life, they were widowed and then married again. How many times do we try to understand spiritual matters based on our limited natural cognition? Jesus corrects them, asking, “Don’t you do not know the Scriptures? You do not know the power of God?” Jesus points to Scripture. Jesus points to God’s miracle. He asks, “Haven’t you read?” He brings up Moses at the burning bush where God says He is the God of these dead men – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Is God a God of the dead? No, they are living.

We don’t know everything. We all have a choice to change the way we view the Scriptures. Perhaps some of those Sadducees changed their thinking that day. God is gracious. He will teach the humble, allowing us to grow and develop in our understanding.

Deuteronomy 5-7

For the next 21 chapters or so, Moses gives a message on the Law, including the ten commandments, ceremonial laws, civil laws, criminal laws, and social laws. Remember, the Mosaic Law teaches us that we all fall short of God’s righteousness and are in need of a Savior. If the Law contains a moral principle, it reveals the holiness of God and the character of God and still applies today to everyone. If the Law contains a blood sacrifice, that no longer applies because Jesus fulfilled it. If the Law contains a ceremony or ritual, that may apply to the Jew, but it does not necessarily apply to the Gentile.

In addition, when Jesus was on the earth, He came to offer us redemption. The religious leaders were continually challenging Jesus to find Him guilty of the Law. Jesus said He didn’t come to do away with the Law; He came to fulfill it. He was questioned about the Sabbath, ceremonial rituals, fasting, and other Mosaic rules and regulations. Jesus went past the performance and to the heart. Obedience, if it did not come out of a reliant dependency on the Lord, was nothing but outward performance.

Jesus spoke on faith, building people up to rely on the Father through teaching. He also dealt with soul issues that kept a person back from trusting God. He lifted shame off of women who had allowed themselves to be used by men to make a living. He removed guilt from tax collectors who stole extra money from people. He relieved fears from people who thought they weren’t good enough for Him.

In chapter 5, Moses reviewed the ten commandments, recalling the event at the mountain where God was seen in power.

Chapter 6 is a powerful chapter in the Old Testament. In it contains part of what the Jews call the Shema, meaning “hear,” a confession of their faith that are an integral part of evening and morning services, even to this day. In addition to prayers, there are three portions of Scripture they quote, including Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (also Deuteronomy 11;13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41).

In Deuteronomy 6:4 it starts out with the word “Hear,” which is why it is named the Shema. After Moses restates the ten commandments, He gives this one, “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” In the Gospels (Mark 12:30-31, tomorrow’s reading. Also Matthew 22 and Luke 10), Jesus Himself quotes this verse, saying it is the greatest commandment. The second greatest is from Leviticus 19:18 “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said all of the Law is summed up in these two commandments, because if we love God and love people from our heart, our actions will show it.

In Deuteronomy 6:7-9, Moses tells them the importance of keeping God’s Word always with them in their homes and on their bodies. He also tells them to teach them to their children, to diligently teach them to love and obey God.

In chapter 7, Moses tells Israel they are a chosen people. They were chosen to be holy, or set apart, from other nations. They were chosen to be a special treasure above another people, not because they were a superior race. For one, they were taken out of slavery. For another, they were called “least” of all peoples (verse 7). It was so Jesus could come through them for us all. Only God could get the glory for coming through a small nation made of slaves. We also know that some Gentiles turned from idolatry and serve Jehovah, so we see God’s heart has always been for the whole world, all the nations.

Today’s Christian, children of Abraham by faith, is to live a holy life, separated from sin; however, that does not mean the Christian is to exclude the world; rather, the Christian is to reach the world, staying pure while in it.

In Deuteronomy 7:12, Moses begins to list blessings for obedience, when people acted from a heart of love and faith.

Remember that God isn’t after your performance; He is after a heart that will trust and rely upon Him to the point of taking action. If you are young in faith, God will strengthen and grow you. Not only is there grace in the beginning of your salvation, but there is a grace in the journey of growing in your salvation. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. He is on your side!

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