The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 11, v.27
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 28 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?”
29 “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. 30 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!” 31 They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. 32 But do we dare say it was merely human?” For they were afraid of what the people would do, because everyone believed that John was a prophet. 33 So they finally replied, “We don’t know.” And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Parable of the Evil Farmers
Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. 2 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. 3 But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 4 The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. 5 The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, 6 until there was only one left—his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ 7 “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 8 So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard. 9 “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. 10 Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures?
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
11 This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.’”
12 The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.
Taxes for Caesar
13 Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 14 “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?” Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.” 16 When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 17 “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply completely amazed them.
About today's contributor . . . Grace is a lawyer. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.
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This was quite the exciting showdown between Jesus and the Pharisees--it was like reading an intellectual boxing match! Jesus is not afraid to stand up to the respected and powerful religious leaders of the community and they just can't seem to corner him. In thinking about the previous chapters of Mark and this one, I was struck how Jesus is able to mold his teachings to different audiences--in previous chapters we saw him delivering his message to children, people in dire need (a bleeding woman, a father with a dying child, a blind man), crowds of everyday people, a rich man, and the disciples. Here, he uses the language of the Pharisee's legalism against them so that they can't use the rules and laws to condemn him for claiming that he is the Son of God (even the Pharisees must have been impressed in v.17). But through the story of the vineyard, Jesus is still able to communicate his message to them clearly. His ability to communicate the Good News by seamlessly adopting the language of different groups of people, even those hostile to him, shows how Jesus is truly everywhere and available to everyone.
What did you think about this passage and what stuck out to you the most?
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