Mark 12: You Don’t Know the Scriptures

Do you have a favorite verse from the Bible?


I have a few myself, and this chapter contains one of my all time favorites:

Jesus said, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” Mark 12:24

I know. It doesn’t sound very comforting. Who was Jesus talking to when he said this?

He wasn’t talking to a Roman citizen, raised without the Scriptures. He wasn’t talking to a Jewish woman, hearing Scripture from afar. He was talking to Jewish men who took the 5 books of the Law so seriously they had the whole thing memorized. So seriously that they denied the resurrection, because they couldn’t find any evidence of it in the fine print of the Torah. So seriously they picked fights with the Pharisees with whom they disagreed on this issue.

Now, why would I find this riveting? Because it awakens me to the treasure of God’s Word and the reality of God’s power. It prods me and coaxes me to press on to know both better. To know him.

I know my Bible pretty well at this point. It would be easy to have my eyes glaze over when I read a familiar passage. It would be easy to have the words slide across the surface of my life, leaving behind only a vague sense of comfort.

But I see the Word of God differently when I watch how Jesus handled it. It is diamond hard, precise to the smallest detail, and true. Utterly true. It describes Reality.

It is also living, pulsing with vitality and the very power of God. It isn’t sitting tamely on the page, it’s ready to pounce. It’s so true and so alive, it invades my mind, emotions, will, choices and says, “This not that! He’s here! Seek him! He’s true! Respond!”

This verse is what ignited my curiosity and launched me into digging for treasure. Bible study is such an adventure. Watch out! You might find a tiger in the bushes! Be ready…you might catch a glimpse of a rare and beautiful bird.

Half Way Through the Last Week

It is now the middle of the last week of Jesus’ life. He has finished making the trek from Galilee to Jerusalem. He won’t be traveling to any other towns or villages. The time for miracles is over. His final ministry before the cross is with words.

Just words? No, the Word himself, with the sword of the Spirit in his mouth, wielding it with consummate skill.

Day 1: Context — The Context is Jesus’ mind, his knowledge of the Word. Read the Scriptures below and answer the questions.

  1. Psalm 118:22-23. How does Jesus interpret these verses? How are they the perfect punchline for his parable in Mark 12:1-12
  2. Exodus 3:6. How does Jesus use this verse to answer the Sadducees? What is his argument based on?
  3. Deuteronomy 6:4,5; Leviticus 19:18. How do these two verses together sum up the Law? How well did he have to know the letter and intent of the law to cut and paste these two words into one answer?
  4. Psalm 110:1. Jesus turns this verse into a question for the crowds. How does the familiar suddenly become unfamiliar?

Day 2: Observation — Read Mark 12 as a series of conversations with various audiences.

  1. What was Jesus saying to the Pharisees through the parable in 12:1-12?
  2. Read the 3 confrontations in 12:13-17, 18-27, 28-34. Who initiates each one? What is the issue? Who wins?
  3. What point does Jesus make to the crowd during his final week? 12:35-37
  4. What positive and negative examples does he point out? 12:38-44. How would you summarize the difference between the “beware” and “behold”?

Day 3: Meaning — Read Mark 12 as Jesus wielding the Sword of the Spirit in the power of the Spirit.

  1. Why does Jesus tell the parable to the Pharisees? How does this parable display both the kindness and severity of God?
  2. How does Jesus use the Word by the Spirit to win the three confrontations?
  3. How does Jesus use the Word as a depth charge in the mind of the crowd?
  4. How do Jesus’ words to the crowd and the disciples provide authoritative commentary on what the examples mean?

Day 4: Application — Read Mark 12 as a personal word from God to you.

  1. Jesus wields the sword of the Spirit perfectly. See how mighty he is! Take time to worship him now in song or praise. Write out your praise if it helps you to focus.
  2. Where in your life do you need to use the Word more effectively? With yourself? against temptation? With your husband, children? With your unsaved friends? Ask God for the specific help you need.

God gave us the Scriptures so we could know him. He won’t hold back when we ask to know him better.

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