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20: Confronting the Opposition (2) (Mk 12:28-44)
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I.       The Basics

A.     Setting

After Jesus had wisely defended Himself, He turned the offensive against His attackers. He used the word of God to reveal their hypocrisy.

B.     Key Verse

            “And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” (12:33).

C.     Did You Know…?

1.      Jewish rabbis had counted 613 individual statutes in the law and attempted to differentiate between “great” and “little” commands.

2.      Burnt offerings (12:33): Performed by the priests for the atonement of sins (Lev 16:24). The procedure is described in Ex 29:1,15-18.

3.      “Long robes” (12:38): The scribes wore long, white linen robes that were fringed and almost reached to the ground.

4.      “Best seats” (12:39): Seats reserved for dignitaries, in front of the chest containing the sacred scrolls, facing the congregation in the synagogue.

5.      The scribes asked for donations for their livelihood because they were not paid a regular salary. Such a system was open to abuses, of which widows were especially vulnerable.

6.      Treasury (12:41): In the temple, there were 13 horn-shaped receptacles for receiving freewill offerings.

7.      Widow (12:42): In biblical times, widows (along with orphans) were the most helpless members of society. Because they did not have the means to sustain their lives, God commanded the people to take special care of them (cf. Ex 22:22-24; Deut 24:19-21; Acts 20:35).

8.      Mites/copper coins (12:42): “Two lepta” in the original Greek. One lepton (singular), which was 1/128 of a denarius (cf. Lesson 19, Did You Know 10), was the smallest currency value. For his Roman readers, Mark stated the value in terms of Roman coinage (kodrantes/quadrans), which has been translated into different English words (“farthing,” “cent,” “fraction of a penny,” etc).

II.    Observation

A.     Outline












B.     Key Words/Phrases

III. General Analysis

1.      Why was Jesus so harsh on the scribes, the elders, the chief priests, the Pharisees, etc.?

2.      When you hear or read a biblical teaching that seems harsh, how should you react?

IV.  Segment Analysis

A.     12:28-34

1. How was this scribe different from the others who challenged Jesus with questions?

2. How does the fact that the Lord is one (29) relate to loving the Lord (30)?

3. Give an example of loving the Lord ...

3a. with all your heart

3b. with all your understanding/mind

3c. with all your soul

3d. with all your strength

4. Who is your neighbor? Give an example of loving your neighbor as yourself.

5a. What was the purpose of burnt offerings and sacrifices? Today, how do we live out the spirit of burnt offerings?

5b. How are the commandments of loving God and your neighbor more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices?

6. What does it mean to be “not far from the kingdom of God” (34)?

7. Jesus quoted two commandments from the Old Testament (Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18) as the most important. Give examples of other Old Testament teachings that are still applicable today.

8. Why did no one dare to ask Jesus any more questions (34)?

B.     12:35-40

9. Was Jesus disagreeing with the scribes’ teaching that the Christ was the Son of David? What was He trying to show?

10a. How have the scribes disobeyed the most important commandments (cf. 12:29-31)?

10b. How do we avoid becoming like the scribes?

10c. In church, how should we associate with those who act like the scribes?

C.     12:41-44

11a. Why did Jesus watch the crowd putting money into the temple treasury?

11b. Give an example of a real-life observation that taught you something about your faith.

11c. Today, Jesus also watches everything we do. How does this knowledge affect your actions?

12. How did the widow obey the greatest commandments (cf. 12:29-31)?

13. What is the biblical attitude we should have toward the rich and the poor?

14a. What is the smallest amount you’ve ever offered? The largest? How were those amounts appropriate to your situation?

14b. What does your offering say about your faith?

15. When you do not feel like praying or reading the Bible, how much effort do you put in to try? How does it compare to the widow’s offering?

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