The Life and Teaching of Jesus – Part 32
Right Question, Wrong Answer. (Mark 12: 13-44)
Some people ask the right questions, and some people ask the wrong questions and there are some people who don’t ask questions at all. I’d like to talk this morning about the different scenarios involved in asking questions. I think we all know at heart that asking constructive questions and applying the answers can be a learning experience and a good thing. Another scenario is not that you don’t ask questions, rather it is that you ask the wrong questions and because of that, regardless of the answers you get, you still make the wrong choices. However, it seems to me the worst possible scenario is that you ask the right question and get the right information but still make the wrong choice.
The opening of the passage is relatively straight forward it begins with the religious leader of his day coming to Jesus and asking Him some questions. (Mark 11: 27) Prior to this Jesus had come up from Jericho and arrived in Jerusalem and cleared out the temple, by turning over the tables of the money lenders and driving out the traders. This is the next day and Jesus is in the temple courtyard again and are then told that the Chief Priests the Scribes and the Elders come to Him, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? (Mark 11: 28) This is an official cross examination by the religious leaders of the day in light of what Jesus had done there on the previous day. It was the Sanhedrin’s responsibly to check out any claims people made of being either a prophet or especially the Messiah. It seems in the case of Jesus they had already made up their minds. This is the same group who had decided that they were going to kill him. (Mark 11:18) They ask, by what authority are you doing these things, who gave you that authority. What they are specifically talking about is his cleansing the temple the day before. In a sense this is a trick question, it appears whatever way Jesus answers he will be trapped.
29 Jesus replied, ‘I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism – was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!’ (Mark 11: 29-30)
He answers a question, with a question, and the question is but why does Jesus bring up John the Baptist? Let me remind you about what John the Baptist said about Jesus.
26 ‘I baptise with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’ (John 1: 26-27) And a few verses later he is saying this about Jesus. The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’ (John 1:29-31)
We can see that John the Baptist testified about both the eternity of Christ, the deity of Christ (The fact that He is God in the flesh) and the fact that he would die as a sacrifice to take away the sins of the world. Therefore, Jesus is saying to the leadership of the Sanhedrin, what do you think about John the Baptist, everybody seems to agree he was a prophet, what do you think about what he said about me. Now they are in a dilemma, lets look at what they do next. First they discuss it among themselves, (that’s never a good sign (Mark 11 31) They appear to be in a bit of a mess no matter what way they answer, in the end they say ‘We don’t know.’ Jesus then says, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’ This is a group of people who have already decided to destroy Him. Jesus knows if they won’t accept or confirm the word of God, in this case coming from John the Baptist, someone who they had already recognised as a prophet of God. They are not going to believe him, no matter what he said, or did. In this situation Jesus knew they had made up their mind and there is no sense going any further because they are not going to believe no matter what. Although Jesus was unwilling to answer their question directly, he then begins to answer it indirectly by telling them a parable. (Mark 12:1-9)
The farmer in the parable prepares the ground and puts in place the infrastructure and hands over the land to be looked after by men and for the crop to be prepared for the harvest to come. Servant one gets beaten and sent away empty handed. Servant two and three fair little better . Finall,y he send his son and heir, and they kill him, and they don’t even bury him, they just cast the body out of the vineyard. He then asks the question what the owner will then do, “He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others”.
It is commonly agreed that this is the very straightforward illustration of this parable.
Q Who is the owner of the vineyard?
A God is.
Q Who are the people He sent to them?
A The prophets in the Old Testament and the Apostolic writers in the New Testament.
Q Who is the Son he then send?
They stoned the prophets, and they killed the son and they did these things motivated by the desire to take over the situation and live without accountability to their creator and master. People will often take liberties with the generosity and patience of God but in the end justice and judgement must come.
Then Jesus concludes his interaction with the leadership of the Sanhedrin by saying “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; (Mark 12: 10) Jesus here is directly quoting Psalm 18, and we are told the stone will be rejected. The very stone that was rejected has become the stone upon which the whole edifice is constructed. Every single human being on this planet Jesus represents a stone of some sort. He is either the stone upon which they trip, the stone upon which the stumble or the cornerstone upon which they build their lives.
The whole point of this is that we see the Sanhedrin leaders ask questions, but they make the wrong decisions. They decide to reject hi and to kill Him. However, because they made the wrong decision what they hoped for, they won’t receive, and in the end, they will be overlooked and replaced. The main application of this passage is a message for people who have never trusted in Jesus Christ, and a warning to those who reject His message all together. Because it tells you if you do that, if you continue to do that, God will be patient, God will be Kind, God will be long-suffering, but eventually you will have that decision to separate yourself from God made permanent. That’s the first and foremost application of this passage and if you have not trusted in Jesus Christ, then please do so before this day has ended, because I would not wish for you to see the consequences of that decision made permanent. Let Him be the rock upon which you build your life from this day forward, not the stone upon which you stumble.
I want to make a final observation that applies to all of us. God has showered us with good things and we do not respond as we should. From the very beginning He sent prophet after prophet firstly to the Nation of Israel, but the religious leaders of that day uniformly ignored Him. The question we all need to ask ourselves, is, has God blessed you? If so have you responded as you should? The tenants of the land in the parable Jesus talked about, were not even thankful for the gift of the vineyard they had been given. Are you like one of those tenants. Has God in his goodness keeps showering you with good gifts and have you even bothered to say thank you. Have you committed your life to Jesus. If so what are you doing to serve Him and what are you doing to serve the people, he loves and cared about. So much so, that he was prepared to lay down his life to set them free from the power of sin.
Right Question Wrong Answer
Topics: The Life and Teaching of Jesus