In Matthew 10:34-35, Jesus said He would “…set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law….” Jesus did NOT say He came to cause family strife; what He was illustrating is that His message can cause conflict even in families because some people accept it while others reject it. Later, He would say those willing to forsake home and even family for His sake and the gospel’s will be “compensated” a hundred times over for these losses, both in the present life and in eternity (Mark 10:29-30). Jesus’ emphasis on eternal life in the age to come is why John would later write “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Revelation 14:13). It is vitally important for Christians to understand that God does not simply call us to “suffer loss” in order to be His children; He promises comfort, reward, AND relief of the very real pain the gospel can cause, if we will make and keep the commitment He requires.
The day after He “triumphantly” entered Jerusalem (Mark 11), Jesus did something in the temple that violently contradicts the image many have of Him as a passive, mild-mannered weakling: He “cleansed” the temple by forcibly driving out the sellers of sacrificial animals and overturning the tables of the moneychangers. The “tables” were actually large slabs of stone, and His actions struck fear in the hearts of the Jewish rulers; that He could throw them over shows His physical strength and the force of His actions! Quoting from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 added the weight of prophetic authority to His actions, and effectively silenced anyone who might have challenged Him. By doing these things, Jesus highlighted the fact that Judah’s religious leaders were defiling the temple! Sacrificial animals were being sold at inflated prices (with a “kickback” to the priests), and sacrifices brought from home were “disqualified” so that the worshipper had no choice but to purchase another offering. Since only Jewish coins were accepted for the temple treasury (Exodus 30:13), moneychangers gouged Jews rom other places when they needed to exchange foreign coins for shekels. These practices violated Moses’ law by taking unfair advantage of their brethren (Exodus 22:25; Proverbs 28:7-8).
There are many people in our world like the wise scribe in Mark 12:28-34; they know enough of God’s word for it to have a positive impact on their lives. This man asked about the “most important” commandment (in the Law), and then recognized the foundational character of Jesus’ reply, as Jesus joined love for God with love for one’s neighbor (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Leviticus 19:8). The man’s response (vv. 32-33) shows his understanding, and Jesus’ words in (v. 34) might describe many sincere people in today’s world: “not far from the kingdom of God.” Jesus complimented the man’s grasp of spiritual truths, but He also challenged him to “come all the way,” into the truth. Many sincerely religious people can be led all the way into the kingdom of God, if Christians will simply and kindly challenge them to fully follow the instructions in God’s word.
While dining in the house of Simon the leper (Mark 14:3-9), a woman anointed Jesus with a very expensive ointment. (According to John 12:3 her name was Mary, but there is no biblical confirmation either that she was Mary “Magdalene” NOR is there any basis for the tradition that she was a prostitute.) When some of the disciples objected to her actions (Judas Iscariot was in the forefront in this, John 12:4-6), Jesus scolded them for their objections, and said she had made a beautiful gesture toward Him. Two noteworthy observations can be made here:First, Jesus commended her for doing what she could –women had very little status in the closed, patriarchal society of first-century Judah, but she found a way to show her love for the Lord. Second, like the Lord’s disciples, Christians too often com-plain about and criticize good works instead of sup-porting them!