Friday, March 3, 2017

Mark: He needs no proof; he's God

Mark 11:27-12:26

In the previous blog, I mentioned that people can have faith to move mountains, but that faith must be in Jesus and not anybody else.  Anybody that the Lord has not granted faith always wants God out of the way so that they can build their own mountains only to have their mountains collapse on them.  But those that the Lord has blessed with saving knowledge of himself will seek to please the Lord.  They trust and obey him even when he doesn't really make sense.  They don't do it perfectly, but they do it.

In this section, the Sanhedrin who oppose Jesus get nastier and nastier.  First they boldly ask him by what authority he does what he does.  Jesus is God the Son.  He has been the God of this world from all eternity.  He doesn't need a source of authority.  He is the source of all authority.  And he certainly is not going to answer their question.  He does not need to prove himself, and so he asks them about John the Baptist.  Where does his authority come from: men or God?  They would not answer because they care too much about what people think.

Next, Jesus really offends them by the parable of the tenants.  A men rents his property to tenants who will cultivate his vineyards until he returns.  He sends messengers to collect some of the profit but they beat and torture them.  Then he sends his own son, and the tenants kill him.  The Pharisees did not miss the meaning of this parable.  They knew that Jesus had made them the wicked tenants and did not even deny the truth of that.  Jesus is God's Son and deserves all respect.  But they will kill him even knowing the consequences, showing that they are truly not among the elect.

Then they pose Jesus the trick question: should they pay taxes to Caesar?  If Jesus says yes, they will accuse him of championing the Roman government.  If he says no, they will accuse him of opposing Rome.  Jesus borrows a coin from them (and they have one, showing they oppose Caesar but will still reap his benefits, much like people on the left coast today).  Caesar's face is on the coin, so you can give him the coin, but give what is God's to God.  Only, God made Caesar, too.  He made the world and owns it all.  He does not need to pay taxes, but he does expect his creatures to obey the governments that he has set in place, yes, even wicked ones.

Finally, the theological liberals who don't believe in an afterlife but still think it matters that they have some kind of good standing with God, whoever he is, speak up.  What about a woman who has married seven brothers?  When she dies, who will she marry in heaven?  Once again, Jesus baffles both friend and foe with his answer.  He does not have to prove his authority but will gladly establish that there actually is no marriage in heaven.  Now, for the people that both love Jesus and have great marriages like myself, this may sound dismaying.  But then again, all relationships will be perfect in God's Kingdom and there will no longer be a need for marriage vows, and in a way, we will all be married to Jesus in a way that is far better than sex and marriage.  Does that mean there is no sex in God's completed Kingdom?  I don't know.  But I do know that God's plans must be amazing if they are better than that.  And it will be pure, too, and no longer exploited.

But that is beside the point.  Jesus did not answer their question.  He established his authority as God and Creator of heaven and earth.  People can question him, but ultimately, they have no right other than to accept what he gives and trust that he knows what he is doing.

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