Mark 12-13
(Keep Watch for the Hour Is Coming )
October 18th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

"But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father."

- Matthew 13:32 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

In chapter 12, Jesus speaks the last parable recorded in Mark’s Gospel – the parable of the evil tenants who killed the master’s servants and his son. This parable was a prophecy of the situation that Jesus was about to experience. The story also angered the Pharisees who became more determined than ever to arrest him. They tried to fool him with a question on taxes, but failed. Then it was the Sadducee’s turn. They asked Jesus a hypothetical question regarding the relationship between married people in heaven. Jesus explained to them that there is no concept of marriage in heaven – all will be like angels: "After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. (Mark 12:25 - MSG).

The end of chapter 12 presents an illustration of Sacrifice: There was a widow, whose contribution to the Treasury at the temple appeared to be a small amount. This was true when measured in absolute terms. However, when measured in relative terms, considering her position of poverty, she had given everything, or nearly everything she had. By contrast, other contributors, who gave much in absolute terms, actually gave very little considering all they had.

In chapter 13, Jesus warns people in very direct terms regarding the end of the age and the time when the Son of Man comes:

Reflection and Application

One of the verses from the end of Mark 13 was quoted by Andy Dufresne, the main character in the movie, Shawshank Redemption. Andy was a banker who was wrongly convicted and imprisoned for allegedly killing his wife. When asked by the warden about his favorite Bible verse Andy replied: “Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh (Mark 13:35 - KJV).” Andy quoted from the King James Version, because that would have been the version that he would have read in the 1930s and 1940s.

This verse had a double-meaning for a long-suffering victim in a prison run by a corrupt warden, but it applies to all of us in this broken and unjust world. Perhaps you are familiar with this verse and wonder, if we don’t know the day or the hour, then how do we prepare for the day that Jesus describes? This is a good question for further reflection, but it seems that Jesus is telling us to accept him in our lives and turn our lives over to him.

The parable in Mark 12 reveals the character of God, Jesus, and men. It shows that God, as represented by the vineyard owner, is generous, trusting, and patient, but will eventually bring justice for all. Jesus, represented by the vineyard owner's son, is considered a son, not a servant, and knows his divine destiny.

Men, represented by the tenants, are greedy cutthroats who think they can get away with murder because God is no longer relevant. They did not respect the authority of the owner, even though he had permitted them to work his land. They rejected his servants (the prophets) and killed his son (Jesus). As a result, those who had first lived in the vineyard would be banished and replaced by other people from the world. Instead of rejecting the representatives of the owner, we should be welcoming them, and listening to their advice on how best to till his land.

When asked about taxes in chapter 12, Jesus says to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give to God what is God’s. What is it that we are give to God?

A subsequent illustration portrays the widow who gives all she has to the Treasury at the temple. Likewise, Jesus wants us to devote our lives to him. This may not necessarily mean donating all of our money and possessions, although some people have done this.

The Austrian billionaire Karl Rabeder believed that this was the path for him, as he described in an interview in February 2010: “ ‘For a long time I believed that more wealth and luxury automatically meant more happiness,’ But over time, he had another, conflicting feeling. ‘More and more I heard the words: 'Stop what you are doing now – all this luxury and consumerism – and start your real life',’ he said (1)."

Rabeder has given his money to charities in various places around the world, and moved into a small shack. He says he feels free, but does not judge those who chose to keep their wealth. "I do not have the right to give any other person advice. I was just listening to the voice of my heart and soul."

For the rest of us, giving up our lives may lead us to some other action. Maybe it’s devoting our skills and talents to a ministry for God. At a minimum, it may mean that we constantly seek to follow Jesus, acknowledge our human condition, plead for forgiveness, accept his grace, and listen, listen, listen for his word and guidance.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is one of your favorite Bible verses?
    2. What does God want you to give back today?
    3. How can we prepare today for the day of the LORD?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father, thank you for sharing your vineyard with us - help us to respect your authority and welcome your son when he comes to ask us to give to you what is yours.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) "Millionaire Gives Away Fortune," The Telegraph, 8 Feb 2010

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Mark 14 (Preparation for the Sacrifice)

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