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The Gospel According to Mark: Discipleship Defined

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Notes & Transcripts
Mark 11:27–12:12 ESV
And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture: “ ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.
So what we have is…
Jesus and the disciples returning to Jerusalem and the temple on what is now the Tuesday of Passover week… the day after Jesus had flipped over tables, kicked people out, and taught with authority regarding the temple… and here come the religious leaders… why? because they’ve got questions about what took place the day before… and they’re coming to get answers, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you authority to do them?” … that’s the issue at hand… the issue of authority… same thing today… which is why we need to understand point…
1. Jesus Has all Authority
Look at it with me…
How does Jesus respond to the religious leaders question? … with a question of his own… Jesus says, [29] I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. [30] Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” … it’s a brilliant question… it puts the religious leaders between the proverbial rock and a hard place… they’re like, “Man, if we answer ‘from heaven’ Jesus is going to ask us, ‘Why didn’t you believe?’ … but if we answer ‘from man’ the people are going to get upset.”and why would the people get upset? … because they believed John the Baptist was a prophet of God… So Jesus’ question puts the religious leaders in a tight spot… if they say John’s baptism is from God… then they’re admitting John was a prophet from God… and if John was a prophet of God… then his message would’ve also been from God… and John’s message was all about who? … Jesus… and they don’t believe any of that… but the people doso if they say John’s baptism is from human origin… then they’re publicly admitting they don’t believe John was a prophet of God… which is going to upset the people… so how do they respond? … “We don’t know.” … it’s a copout response, but it’s clearly a response of unbelief… and this is why Jesus responds with, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” … why? … because even if Jesus answers their question they won’t believe… Think about it… what have we seen all throughout Mark’s Gospel? … whether it was in his teaching, healing, casting out demons, calming storms, feeding thousands, forgiving sins, raising people from the dead… what have we seen? … Jesus demonstrating his divine authority over and over… which is all proof of his deity… but how has he generally been received? … with confusion and unbelief… So even if Jesus were to answer their question they won’t believe… but we need to… we need to understand and believe that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth… that all things were created through him and for him and that in him all things holds together… there is literally not one thing in this world that Jesus doesn’t have complete authority over… therefore, we’re to submit [all people are to submit] every avenue of our lives to his authority… and because the religious leaders aren’t…
What does Jesus do?
He presents them with a parable… a figurative narrative used to make a point… and understand this is taking place in the courtyard of the temple… this isn’t in some private room off to the side, but a public setting for all to see… so it’s a parable directed toward the religious leaders, but everyone’s listening in… And Jesus proceeds to tell a parable of a man who planted a vineyard, prepared it, and then leased it to his tenants… so the man owns the vineyard… and when it came time to harvest the grapes the owner sent a servant to get some of the fruit from the vineyard… and what happened? … the tenants beat the servant and sent him away… so the owner sends another servant… and basically the same thing happens… and then the owner sent another servant… who they kill… and we’re told this was so with many others, some they beat and some they killed… every servant the owner sends the tenants reject… until the owner decides to send his own son… which is like the owner coming himself, surely they will listen to him… surely they will submit to his authority… but no, what do the tenants do? … they reject him and kill him as well… and it’s here where Jesus poses the question, “What will the owner of the vineyard do?” … verse 9, “He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.” … Now previous parables were secretive, hard to understand… not this one, Jesus isn’t being very secretive here… it’s pretty easy to put two and two together and see who Jesus is referring to and what he’s saying… the tenants are who? … the religious leaders… and who’s the owner? … God… it’s his vineyard [the vineyard being Israel], Israel belongs to God… he created her from nothing [remember the calling of pagan Abraham]… Israel wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the grace of God… he formed her into a great nation, he preserved her, he was patient with her… which brings us to point…
2. God is patient and loving to rebellious sinners
Think about it…
If you owned a property and leased it out… what would you expect? … for the tenants to keep the lease agreement… well these clearly don’t… they reject his authority, don’t submit to his will, don’t produce good fruit… and we’re just as guilty… Jesus is talking about the religious leaders, but it’s just as applicable to us… but praise God he is patient and loving to rebellious sinners… Notice how he doesn’t bring immediate judgment like they or we deserve… what’s he do instead? … he sends servant after servant [prophet after prophet]… despite them being rejected, beaten, and even killed… he just keeps sending… even sending his beloved Son… why? … to give the tenants the opportunity to avoid his just judgment… do you see the patience and the love of our great God? … that despite our sinful rebellion he patiently and loving sent his beloved Son to redeem us… think about how he has patiently and lovingly placed men and women in your life to share these gospel truths and tell you of the love of God… aren’t you thankful for his patience with you? … because for most Christians, even those who came to faith at an early age, we didn’t believe the very fist time we heard the gospel… but what did God do? … he kept patiently and lovingly sending people into our path to tell us about the the love of God… and as Christians we get to be a part of this… we get to join God in the mission of God… we get to tell people the good news of Jesus Christ… that there is a way for sinful man to be reconciled to Holy God… and it’s exhilarating and frightening all at the same time… it’s exhilarating in seeing people who have never heard, or maybe have heard, but have never had it click before… begin processing these glorious truths… it’s even more exhilarating when they believe… I remember a particular cab ride in the UAE outside of Dubai… I was in the front seat, and Leslie and another team member were in the back seat… we were on our way back to the hotel after dinner in what should’ve been about a 10-15 minute drive… but there was an apartment fire that blocked traffic for well over an hour… so we’re stuck… which means cab driver is stuck to… and I’m sensing the Lord impressing upon me to share the gospel with this man… so we start talking… find out he’s from Syria… came to the UAE looking for work, sending money back to his family in Syria… in typical tourist fashion I start asking questions about the country… I’m looking for away to bridge to the gospel… understanding that it’s illegal to evangelize in Dubai… like government officials in Dubai will use cab drivers to turn in suspicious activity, religious or otherwise, within their country… so I don’t know this guys story… so again, I’m just playing the tourist card… and go all dumb American for a moment, which isn’t hard for me… and I ask him about his religion… knowing full well he’s Muslim… but I’ve got him engaged and talking… and then I ask him what if he’d been in that apartment building… what if you died as a Muslim in that fire, “What would Allah do?” … and he responds with uncertainty… and I respond with, “Wow! That’s way different than my God.”and what am I wanting him to do? … I want him to ask me about my God… and guess what… he does… and for like the next hour I just answer questions and tell him about Jesus… like lay out the entire gospel… through language differences and all… exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time… Leslie and the lady with us are just in the back praying the entire time… and then we finally pull up to the hotel… and I don’t want this cab ride to end… it’s like this dude is about to believe… and I so wish I could tell you that he did, but I don’t know… he’s one of those people the Lord brings to mind ever so often… and I just wander what happened to him? … that cab ride was a sovereign work of God… but I also realize that cab ride could have turned out a lot different… tried not to think about it much in the moment, but he could’ve responded way different… which brings us to point…
3. We must not be surprised by opposition to our message
The prophets were rejected because of their message…
Jesus was rejected because of his teaching… his disciples were rejected for their teaching… there are countless Christian martyrs throughout history who have been rejected for simply sharing the good news of Jesus… and that’s why we must not be surprised by opposition to our message… the gospel has been and always will be offensive to a world that rejects authority… a world that says, “Don’t tell me how to live!”and let’s be honest… that drives much of our fear about evangelism… a fear of how people will respond… “What if they get offended? What if it they get upset? What if they say no? What if, what if, what if?” … but what if they believe? … and that’s where we can’t forget whose authority we’re under… Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore…” that should comfort and embolden us… we’re under the authority of Christ… we’re servant messengers of the Creator of the Universe… the one holding all things together by the word of his power…
And praise God that in his patient love toward sinful people…
He continues to send out servant messengers of the gospel… why? … because the message is urgent and his love his great… a people who are content to say, “Don’t tell me how to live!” … God continues to patiently and loving pursue… sending his church, under his authority, to make disciples of all nations… but the pursuit won’t last forever… in the parable after the tenants kill the son… what does Jesus ask in verse 9? … What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. … which brings us to point…
4. God’s judgment will come to those who reject the Son
Jesus tells the religious leaders…
“Because you’ve rejected me, because you've rejected God, you will receive the judgment of God.”overarching point: anyone who rejects the Son of God will be destroyed by God… true then and true today… it’s why it’s imperative for those who’ve never heard to hear the good news of Jesus… because when Christ returns there will be no second chances… it’s why it’s imperative for those who have heard to keep hearing… because everyone who rejects the Son of God, everyone who doesn’t submit to his authority will be destroyed by God… that’s the overarching point… But we must also see this through the eyes of the original readers… looking at their context at verse 9… the owner, “will come and destroy the tenants [the religious leaders] and give the vineyard [Israel] to others.” … see by A.D. 70, less than forty years after these events, the temple is completely destroyed… bringing an end to the entire religious system of sacrifices, priests, rituals, and ceremonies that depended on it… why? … because it failed, but Christ did not… that’s why Christ is now our temple… sinners come to God, are made right with God, through the blood of Christ alone… but anyone who rejects the Son of God will be destroyed by God… which brings us to point…
5. Christ is the Cornerstone
Look what Jesus says in verses 10-11…
“Have you not read this Scripture, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” … this is Jesus quoting and obviously referring to himself… see whether it’s the words of the prophets, the words from Scripture, or his own work and teaching… the people have rejected Jesus… but what has the Lord done? … taken who the people rejected and made him the cornerstone… the cornerstone being the most important stone in the building… it’s the stone providing stability and symmetry for everything else… remove this stone and nothing holds together, nothing lines up straight… Jesus is this cornerstone… and it’s marvelous… But the religious leaders don’t think so do they? … and many people today don’t think so… why? … because they don’t see Jesus rightly for who he is… that’s why this chapter ends with the haunting words it does, “So they left him and went away.” … there’s nothing worse than seeing people walk away from Jesus… you don’t do that if you believe Jesus to be the Son of God… you don’t do that if you believe Jesus lived and died to pay the penalty for your sins… that’s why, if we get Jesus wrong we get everything else wrong… if we see Jesus as just a part of our lives… he has his place alongside a bunch of other things in our life… like a box for Jesus, a box for work, a box for family, a box for sports, etc… then we’ve failed to see Jesus rightly for who he is… we’ve failed to understand what it means for him to have absolute authority over everything in our life… we’ve failed to understand what it means for him to be the cornerstone…
So ask yourself…
Is Jesus the cornerstone of your life? … Do you recognize that Jesus has all authority? … And are you humbly submitting to that authority in your life? …
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