What’s your favourite chapter of the Bible?

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Give it a think.

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Mine is Mark 12.

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Jesus is centre stage, as he should be.

It’s all about bringing truth, which I love.

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In Mark 12, you’ve got…

The Parable of the Tenants. Paying Taxes to Caesar. Marriage at the Resurrection. The Greatest Commandment. Christ- Son and Lord of David. Warning about Teachers and The Widow’s Offering.

…7 of Jesus’ crème-de-la-crème knock-out genius snippets of debate, teaching or conversation in one gloriously rich chapter.

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1. The Parable of the Tenants: Bunch of men in a vineyard. Doesn’t end well. The best parable for illustrating man’s free will, Jesus’ lordship, God’s patient love and his scary final judgment.

‘They will respect my son.’

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2. Paying Taxes to Caesar: When I was a child this was to me the most killer statement Jesus ever made.

‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’

Your money is taxable because of the image on it. What has God’s image on it? Genesis 1:26- ‘Let us make man in our own image…’ Therefore, give your life to God.

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3. Marriage at the Resurrection: Sceptical theology geeks come up with a toughie. Jesus torpedoes it without pause.

‘Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?’

Ouch. Pierced.

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4. The Greatest Commandment: Jesus instantly pinpoints the key that unlocks the whole vast Old Testament. Love God, love people. If you don’t love God, you won’t understand the rest.

‘“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”’

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5. Christ- Son and Lord of David: Jesus’ rhetorical question gets people thinking about the world’s most critical question: Who is Jesus? The answers, he says, were in the Psalms all this time.

‘David himself calls him, ‘Lord’. How then can he be his son?’

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6. Warning about Teachers: Jesus saves his invective for corrupt church leaders, who love recognition more than service.

‘”Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to…have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets.”

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7. The Widow’s Offering: utter genius. I remember before I had learnt the words ‘fraction’ or ‘proportion’ or ‘percentage’, I realised that what the poor widow had given to God was more compared to how much she had. Did you know Jesus sees tiny generous sacrifices as beautiful and precious? If you love Jesus: Give until it hurts.

‘Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.”’

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These 7 sketches occur in the context of cut and thrust with sceptics, legalists, hypocrites, the faithful, the curious and the plain unknowledgable.

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Various types attempt to play the grand master, but none dethrone him.

He is able to quote Scripture four times to make his point, since he knows it.

Jesus is interacting with the religious and political elite of his day.

He is speaking to the masses.

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He is exposing fake religion.

He is giving the world a worldview.

He shows us how to live life to the max.

He is living out the kingdom of heaven.

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He side-steps the traps of the devious.

He turns malicious questions into chances to enlighten.

He rubs the legally religious up the wrong way.

He warns people away from arrogance in leadership.

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He drops in a searing, world-renowned teaching about money.

He informs us about the shelf-life of marriage.

He emphasises our vertical ↕ and horizontal ↔ relationships.

He briefs us about resurrection and the life to come.

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He affirms accurate understanding of the Old Covenant.

He embodies the union and harmony of Old and New Testaments.

He facilitates grappling with Scripture.

Jesus puts his own identity front and centre.

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He is not coy about his own supremacy.

He didn’t shy away from speaking about the coming judgment.

He shone the light of honour on the small, the overlooked, the marginalised.

He taught, he changed people’s perspectives, he improved people.

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Mark 12 is an amazing amazing chapter.

What’s your favourite chapter of the Bible?

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