March 21, 2018
Mark 12:28 – 13:2
There’s a vernacular usage these days, where a person (usually younger than I am) adds “ish” to an affirmation, to qualify it – as it to say, ‘more or less’.
The shema is the ritual daily prayer of Jewish piety: Hear O Israel… So why does Jesus get it wrong, with 4 terms rather than 3 – and different from one gospel to the next? Then he adds the other Torah term from Leviticus: love your neighbour as yourself. This is straight rabbinic wisdom from those who created Torah while Christians were writing this testament.
A scribe sycophantically agrees and echoes back – prioritizing an praise and an ethical religion over a ritually correct one. Jesus gives him a passing grade – but others are scared off, afraid to ask questions. Was it so hard? Apparently even a scribe is redeemable.
Next, without provocation this time, Mark says that Jesus taught in the temple, and declined to subordinate the Messiah to David. He argues that David called the messiah Lord. The crowd loves the reasoning…since David is tied to and claimed by the temple. On the other hand, David started his rule in the north, and only later claimed authority in the south – sound like Mark’s Jesus?
Now he’s warning you of religious leaders who walk around in fancy outfits, and get called fancy names in public, and get the best seats at worship and at feasts. He objects to their affluence, in the face of the poor widows who pay into the temple budget. He also objects to their long prayers. He promises them their condemnation in the end…
To reinforce the thing about poor people funding a rich organization, Mark tells the story of Jesus watching a widow donate her all, and others contributing more, but from their spare abundant wealth. The ‘widow’s mite’ means more.
Finally, today, a disciple marvels at the temple’s massive stone works – and Jesus says ‘not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’ Sure enough, by 70AD, the Romans have razed the whole thing, leaving only the wailing wall for us to imagine the rest today. Was this Jesus’ prediction – or Mark’s realization?
He sat down opposite the treasury,
and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins,
which are worth a penny.
Then he called his disciples and said to them,
‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more
than all those who are contributing to the treasury.
For all of them have contributed out of their abundance;
but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had,
all she had to live on.’
As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him,
‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’
Then Jesus asked him,
‘Do you see these great buildings?
Not one stone will be left here upon another;
all will be thrown down.’