2020-05-17 – Mark 12.13-38 – “This is Jeopardy”
Bible Text: Mark 12:13-38 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Mark | 2020-05-17 – Mark 12.13-38 – “This is Jeopardy”
Greetings everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
I am Pastor Jerry from the First Baptist church Orion Illinois. We have been going over the life and ministry of Jesus through the Gospel book of Mark. It is so essential that we know what we believe. Ours is not one of blind faith, but faith it is indeed. Before we get started today I am going to give you an answer, and see if you can come back to me with the question. Ready, The song name is “Think”; and the question is: What is the theme song for the show Jeopardy. The title of our message is “This is Jeopardy!” I chose that because in the verses we will read today Jeopardy is what came to mind as the people are grilling Jesus while He was visiting the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
As you might already know Jeopardy! is a long-running game show with a reversed format in which the answer is given and the contestants attempt to a provide the correct question. Merv Griffin originally created the show in 1964. The show was originally named “What’s the Question?” but later changed the name to Jeopardy!. The song “Think!” has served as the show’s main theme song for several decades. And with that piece of “valuable” trivia, let us now get into our sermon message today.
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 12.13 of God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word. But let us first start with Prayer.
Last week the sermon message about the Widows Mite which also took place in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. In that, Jesus called out the Sanhedrin Council for how they fostered an environment that took advantage of the poor widow. Todays verses are actually the prelude to that event in scripture. Again, Jesus is in the temple and the religious authorities including the Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees, Scribes and Temple leaders were all stirred-up and getting angry that Jesus had the audacity to come back into “their temple” after He just the day earlier went into the temple and threw out those buying and selling. Jesus called it a “den of thieves!” I am sure the atmosphere there was very tense, to say the least. Then starting at verse 13 of chapter 12 it says:
13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Jesus to trap him in his words. 14 When they came, they said to him, “Teacher, we know you are truthful and don’t care what anyone thinks, nor do you show partiality but teach the way of God truthfully. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” 15 But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought a coin.
“Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked them. “Caesar’s,” they replied. 17 Jesus told them, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
I find it interesting how they first approach Jesus here. They called him Teacher, or Raboni. By them acknowledging his credentials, they are effectively answering their previous inquiry where they questioned Jesus’s authority. The word Rabboni is defined as master or teacher—used as a Jewish title of respect applied especially to spiritual instructors. However in this situation, I am sure, it was really “tongue and cheek” as they were trying to set Jesus up for a fall. For this question, if Jesus answered in a way that went against Caesar, then they could turn Him over to the Roman authorities and they would take care of Him. If Jesus answered in a way that went against the Jewish nation, then He would be going against the mass of Jewish believers that were congregating there. But so wise is Jesus, notice He even acknowledges the authority of Caesar in His response, but at the same time He acknowledged God as the ultimate ruler and king. He turned the “either-or” question into a “both and” answer. Jesus is such a maser of words and intellect, and in that it says they were “utterly amazed at him”.
There is much we can say about Jesus’s answer here, that God appoints leaders, that we are to honor and obey the appointed authorities, and we are to pay our taxes, but the main theme of this message is just understanding the dynamics of the interactions, so we too might know how to respond when questioned.
Our second set of verses today comes from questions by the Sadducees (or Sad-You-Sees). The first were by the Pharisees and the Herodians, and now we have the Sadducees. Interestingly these are very different Jewish groups, who normally don’t get along, in fact they hated each other. However when it came to confronting Jesus, they served like a well trained tag-team in a world wrestling match. The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, generally denied the resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels and spirits. So starting at verse 18, see now what they said:
18 [The] Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and questioned him: 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife behind but no child, that man should take the wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers. The first married a woman, and dying, left no offspring. 21 The second also took her, and he died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 None of the seven left offspring. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be, since the seven had married her?”
24 Jesus spoke to them, “Isn’t this the reason why you’re mistaken: you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised—haven’t you read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God said to him: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead but of the living. You are badly mistaken.”
In the Law of Moses, as written in Deuteronomy 25, it addresses the Preserving the Family Line. Verse 5 says: “When brothers live on the same property and one of them dies without a son, the wife of the dead man may not marry a stranger outside the family. Her brother-in-law is to take her as his wife” “The first son she bears will carry on the name of the dead brother, so his name will not be blotted out from Israel”. That was the Law, but the Sadducees exaggerated the situation to include a hypothetical seven-brother scenario to see how Jesus would answer. Remember the Sadducees didn’t even believe in resurrection therefore that wasn’t anything they normally even debated. So they presented a virtually improbable situation to try to trip Jesus up.
Jesus first addresses the purpose of marriage. In a nutshell, marriage is a blessed union for our mortal existence. Remember Eve was created to be “a help-mate” in the garden, and for them to have children for themselves to multiply. Neither of those situations exist in heaven, therefore marriage in itself is not necessary. Also, the institution of marriage, is a shadow of what our relationships will be in heaven. We will know each other and we will know God in ways that we can’t even imagine when we get into heaven. I am not saying that I got all that figured out, however one thing is clear in these verses, there is no marriage in heaven.
In that respect and according to Jesus here, we will be more like the angels who do not marry. Secondly, Jesus then schools them on their false belief about the resurrection. He quotes Father God when He told Moses, “I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob”. Again, God didn’t say I was the God of Abraham, he said I Am the God of Abraham, who in God’s eyes, still exists, therefore indicating that their spirits are still alive in heaven. And that should give all of us hope. Amen?
Then the last of the Jewish religious “Tag-Team” steps up. First we had the Pharisees and the Herodians, then we had the Sadducees, and now in this next set of verses we have the scribes. The scribes were distinguished religious professionals, who would exercise functions which today could be associated with lawyers, journalists, judges, or financiers. Some scribes also copied scripture with perfection, so that we even today have some of those copies. Starting at verse 28, it says:
28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which command is the most important of all?”29 Jesus answered, “The most important is Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31 The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, teacher. You have correctly said that he is one, and there is no one else except him. 33 And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question him any longer.
So again the scribes are the legal branch of the Jewish Religious authorities. They were intrigued by this “outsider” Jesus in how he was holding up against all the other questions. One thing I learned on my recent trip to Israel is that the Jews loved the sport of a good debate. A commentary I read about this said, “To an intellectual, a quick mind and a fair debate is admired as much as a clean victory.” To me, this interaction between the scribes and Jesus seems quite amiable. The scribe questions Jesus, Jesus gives a good answer back and returns then with another question for the scribe, the scribe gives his good answer and Jesus compliments the scribes intellect. Almost like a nice volley of a cordial tennis match. You could almost hear the tennis judge in the background keeping score, 15-love or something like that. What the scribe derived was that Jesus was in fact speaking from authority. Jesus was truly a qualified Raboni Teacher. This also shows that we too can and should engage with others in cordial conversations about our faith. There are many areas from what we call the Old Testament that we can even celebrate in agreement with Jews and even Muslims. However, as we will see in these next verses, there are also many ways that we still differ greatly in our understanding that can have eternal implications. We are now going to see in these next verses that the game is going to take a turn, as Jesus is getting ready to serve a final point up that will secure the victory. Starting at verse 35, Mark wrote:
35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he asked, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself says by the Holy Spirit: The Lord declared to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ 37 David himself calls him ‘Lord’; how then can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.
38 He also said in his teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who want to go around in long robes and who want greetings in the marketplaces, 39 the best seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and say long prayers just for show. These will receive harsher judgment.”
And with that, the game was over. It was the final Jeopardy if you will. The scribe may have thought he had a worthy opponent, maybe even an alley in regards to understanding and appreciating the authority of God’s Word. But then Jesus issues him a smack-down. Effectively Jesus told them that their King David said there was another Lord, other than Father God. That Lord was not a lower-case lord, but a capital letter Lord just like Jehovah God. And that Lord was Jesus. He told them that He sees their disreputable actions. He sees how they are treating His people. He sees how they are taking advantage of the poor and the widows. And He said they will be held accountable. They will receive harsher judgement. And with that, the game was over, the Final Jeopardy was finished, and Jesus had won.
The overall theme we see playing out in these verses today is that despite all the attacks and persecutions they went after Jesus with, He so masterfully desecrated his competition. In fact it really was no competition at all. Jesus was the Champion, He is still the Champion, and He will always be the Champion and Lord of all. Amen?
So in these verses today, despite all the attacks on His intellect and about His authority, Jesus maintained His composure, and He referenced scripture as He engaged with the people. And that is the true takeaway for us here today. Like Jesus, God wants us to smartly engage. God gave us His Word for us to learn, know and carry out His will and purpose in the world. Are you willing to take on that challenge, to get in the game, and be His instrument for salvation?
As we prepare to close, I’ll share that in that show Jeopardy, there was once a contestant who wrote lyrics for the theme song called “Think”:
It’s Final Jeopardy, and what do I do?
The others are writing but, I…don’t have a clue
They say [that] pride goes before the fall
Why, oh why, did I bet, It; All
As many of you know the star of the show, Alex Trebek is currently battling stage four pancreatic cancer. About that he recently said, “I’ve lived a full life, a good life, and I’m nearing the end of that life. I know that,” Trebek said. “I’m not gonna delude myself. If it happens, it happens. Why should I be afraid of that?”
Alex has proclaimed his faith in Christ on several occasions, and we should pray for him as the Bible instructs that we should do.
This game of life is real, brothers and sisters. And these days, as we are seeing the struggle of our mortal humanity. Like Alex, we all will face the Final Jeopardy some day. I pray you are preparing yourself for that. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. Have you repented of your sins by asking Him to forgive you and to take away that punishment? Maybe today is that day.
God loves you brothers and sisters. May God be with you all. Let us pray.