“Jesus told them, ‘Are you not deceived because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God?’” (Mark 12:24 HCSB)
We do not live in a flat world, but in a three dimensional one. Things have depth and our eyes are designed to recognize that. When we lose depth perception it is difficult to walk without falling and to grab something without failing.
Depth perception helps us see things as they truly are.
In the twelfth chapter of Mark, we observe those with a distorted spiritual vision. Jesus highlights this in verse twenty four, “Jesus told them, ‘Are you not deceived because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God?’”
If we understand what Jesus is teaching in this chapter, it is because we have spiritual depth perception—we see things as they truly are, knowing both the Scriptures and the power of God.
For example, we see GOVERNMENT: SUBMISSION AS IT TRULY IS.
“Then they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Him to trap Him by what He said. When they came, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, we know You are truthful and defer to no one, for You don’t show partiality but teach truthfully the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay, or should we not pay?’ But knowing their hypocrisy, He said to them, ‘Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.’ So they brought one. ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ He asked them. ‘Caesar’s,’ they said. Then Jesus told them, ‘Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were amazed at Him.” (Mark 12:13-17)
There was the perception among the Herodians that submission to Caesar was something merely of self-interest. They were willing to compromise with
and thus, secure their status. They were
sell-outs like their namesake King Herod.
They were blinded by materialism. Rome
The Pharisees, on the other hand saw this as a matter of selling-out.
was a pagan oppressor. Romans were filthy
Gentiles whose very presence defiled the land.
The Pharisees dreamed of the day Rome Israel
would be delivered out of ’s heathen hands. They were blinded by legalism. Rome
These political polar opposites joined forces against a common enemy—Jesus. They sought to draw Jesus into the middle of the conflict—knowing He was bound to alienate someone. These men were not seeking truth, but setting a trap. If Jesus took the Herodians’ side and surrendered to
, the common people would attack
Him. If he took the Pharisees side and
strove against Rome ,
the Roman government would arrest Him. But,
these two groups lacked depth perception and so Jesus was going to teach them
how to walk the tightrope of truth and not lose your spiritual equilibrium. Rome
These lessons apply to us today, as well. Jesus tells us that we do have a Christian duty to the state. As bad as we might hate to pay taxes and maybe disagree with how much of it is spent, we receive benefit from the government and are responsible to fund it.
Primarily government has a mandate to protect the citizens from lawless people from within and those menacing us from without our borders. We are responsible to be good citizens by submitting to the laws of the land. This gives us a good testimony.
We are to respect human government because God has established it. In the
, Christians are to be
involved in government for we have been blessed with the privilege of doing
so. We can be part of the political
process through our voting, our running for office and supremely by our prayers
as we intercede for government leaders before the throne of the Eternal King. United States
Make no mistake however, ultimate allegiance is to God. If man’s laws call on us to contradict God’s laws, then we must choose to set aside the former and follow the latter.
Having spiritual depth perception means that we see submission as it truly us, but also, we will see the GRAVEYARD: RESURRECTION AS IT TRULY IS.
“Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and questioned Him: ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaves his wife behind, and leaves no child, his brother should take the wife and produce offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and dying, left no offspring. The second also took her, and he died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. So the seven left no offspring. Last of all, the woman died too.
In the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be, since the seven had married her?’
Jesus told them, ‘Are you not deceived because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. Now concerning the dead being raised — haven’t you read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are badly deceived.’” (Mark 12:18-27)
The Sadducees did not understand the resurrection as it truly is. It was a doctrine they rejected. Not believing in the resurrection is what made them “sad you see!” They were the liberals of their day. While the Herodians were blinded by materialism and the Pharisees by legalism, the Sadducees vision was distorted by liberalism.
Liberalism still blinds people to the truth. Many denominations are headed for the ecclesiastical garbage dump because they have abandoned the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints. They have turned their ears from the Word of God unto fables. Liberal preachers have sown the seeds of error and we are reaping the bitter harvest of evil in
. The moral collapse of the country can be in
large measure attributed to the theological compromise of the church—the light of truth has
gone out in the pulpit and the salt of the sermon has lost its potency. America
Jesus says of the Sadducees that they neither knew the Word of God nor the power of God. That would characterize the apostates of our day—religious professionals doing a job, collecting a salary, while they are devoid of the truth and power of God.
Jesus tells us the truth and that there is a resurrection and it is to a new and higher relationship—a superior love. The argument hinges on the tense of the text and that says much about the reliability of Scripture! Christ points to the power of God to overcome death with life.
Spiritual depth perception means we see submission and resurrection as they truly are. But, this chapter opens our eyes to also see GIVING: DEVOTION AS IT TRULY IS.
“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?’ ‘This is the most important,’ Jesus answered:
! The Lord our God, the Lord
is One. Love the Lord your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
This is the first commandment. The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.’ 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. 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.’ Listen, Israel
When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the
.’ And no one dared to question Him any longer. kingdom of God
So Jesus asked this question as He taught in the temple complex, ‘How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the Son of David?
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.”
David himself calls Him “Lord”; how then can the Messiah be his Son?’ And the large crowd was listening to Him with delight.
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, the front seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets.
They devour widows’ houses and say long prayers just for show. These will receive harsher punishment.”
Sitting across from the temple treasury, He watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. And a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. Summoning His disciples, He said to them, ‘I assure you: This poor widow has put in more than all those giving to the temple treasury.
For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she possessed — all she had to live on.’” (Mark 12:28-44)
Devotion to God is the main thing and love is the preeminent virtue. It is the great commandment, encompassing all of God’s commands. It is the attribute of God and the mark of the Christian. The Pharisees were devoted to rules and ritual. Their distorted view was that legalism pleased God, when in reality it is love.
Jesus illustrated their spiritual blindness in verses 35-37. If you err on who Jesus is, then nothing else matters. Christianity is Christ—it is devotion to Him!
Jesus saw clearly the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Their religious robes and prolonged prayers were all for show (v.38-40).
But there’s a model of true devotion seen in this little widow who puts a pittance into the offering. Actually, she gave more than anyone else—more than the rich—because she gave all! You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.
The disciples didn’t even understand the reality of real generosity. Jesus had to explain it to them. Let’s make sure we get it! It isn’t just the dollar amount that God is looking for, but the devoted attitude He wants. The mark of sacrifice is not how much we give, but how much is left after we give. For some to give even a tithe—ten percent—is a great sacrifice because of their poverty. For others to give a tithe is being stingy because of their plenty.
Do you have spiritual depth perception? Do you see the world as it truly is?
When we come to the voting booth, the funeral parlor and the church house, our attitude toward government, the graveyard and giving reveals whether we see things from a heavenly or a human perspective. Biblical truth is a corrective lens for our blurred vision.