“A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey" (Mark 12:1).
The fifth section (I’; Mark 8:31-16:8) brings the reader to the climactic conclusion. It mirrors the first section (I). The vassal King who has brought the Kingdom of God in fulfillment of the Pactum Salutis was introduced in (I). In the fifth section (I’), the vassal King brings the Kingdom through His absolute obedience to the King of heaven – obedience that took Him to the cross. In His covenant obedience to the Father, the Second Adam builds the eschatological royal temple. The King and the Kingdom have come. The fifth section is divided into three parts:
A Following the King (Mark 8:31-10:52)
B The Royal Temple (Mark 11:1-13:36)
C Obedient King (Mark 14:1-16:8)
The (A) part cycled three times through Jesus’ clear statements that He was going to be put to death and rise after three days. Then, in each cycle He taught what it meant to follow Him. Last, each cycle ended with teaching on the coming Kingdom of God. This then segues into the (B) part, the coming Kingdom and its royal temple. The (B) part is arranged:
1 The Triumphal Entry (Mark 11:1-11)
2 Temple Judgment (Mark 11:12-26)
3 The Temple Building King
Has Come (Mark 11:27-12:44)
2’ Temple Judgment (Mark 13:11-23)
1’ Coming of the King (Mark 13:24-36)
The second part starts with the vassal King entering the temple in Jerusalem (1). The vassal King is in complete control. He tells two disciples to go get a colt that has never been sat on (cf. Num 19:2; Deut 21:3; 1 Sam 6:7). He tells them where it will be and to tell the owner that the “Lord has need of it” (Mark 11:3). The Messianic significance is seen from Zechariah’s words,
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech 9:9).
As He rode into Jerusalem the crowd shouted,
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10)
The Son of David, the vassal “who comes in the name of the Lord,” is here! Jesus went into the temple and looked around at everything. This introduces the (2) part.
The vassal King inspected the temple in Jerusalem before bringing judgment. The next day on the way to the temple, Jesus cursed a fig tree for its failure to produce fruit. This foreshadowed the curse that would fall on the temple. He drove out the moneychangers and cleared the temple. He pronounced the judgment,
“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den” (Mark 11:17).
Israel had not built a temple for the nations to come, but a den of thieves. They defiled the temple of the King of heaven. As they left, the disciples saw the cursed fig tree withered up from the roots. They, as the children of the Kingdom, could be assured that their Father would answer their prayers. The reference to the mountain being moved, refers to Zechariah 14. On the final day God will clear the way for His people to be delivered.
The third part (3) is central. Jesus, as vassal King, not only brings judgment on Israel and her temple for their violation of the Old Covenant, but He builds the true royal temple of the King of heaven. This central part (3) is arranged:
a Tribute (Mark 11:27-12:17)
b God of the Living (Mark 12:18-27)
c Greatest Commandment (Mark 12:28-34)
b’ God of the Living (Mark 12:35-37)
a’ Tribute (Mark 12:38-44)
The leaders of Israel are silenced when Jesus asks whether John’s authority is from heaven or from men (A; Mark 11:27-33). He does not answer their question directly, but He does tell them a parable about a vineyard (cf. Isa 5) where the workers beat the servants of the king to receive the produce of the vineyard. Finally, they killed the king’s son, the heir. They said “the inheritance will be ours!” They refused to give tribute to the king. But the death of the Son is the way the temple is built! Jesus concludes,
“Have you not even read this Scripture:
‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
11 This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?” (Mark 12:10-11)
Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the eschatological temple. Jesus is not here making a side comment about the temple. This is the point of the whole section. As Gabriel told Daniel (Daniel 9), the little temple in Israel would be destroyed when the Messiah the Prince came (Dan 9:25-27). The Messiah would build the true temple of the Kingdom -- the eschatological royal temple of God. Judgment on the Old Covenant people would destroy the temple in Israel; the cross would lay the cornerstone for believers through the New Covenant to be the building stones of the temple (1 Pet 2:5).
The discussion of tribute continues. The Pharisees and Herodians ask Jesus if it is lawful to pay poll-tax to Caesar. Jesus answers and shows them the image of Caesar on the denarius and says,
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).
The coin belongs to Caesar; it bears his image. But man belongs to God; for man is made in His image!
The conflict moves to questions about the resurrection (b). The Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection, ask who will be married to the woman in the resurrection since she had been married to each of the brothers in this life. Jesus refutes their presupposition, and asserts there is no marriage in the resurrection. But then He says,
“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark 12:27).
The center part (c; Mark 12:28-34) then moves to Kingdom righteousness. A scribe asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is. Jesus answered,
“The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
Jesus did not come as vassal king to do away with the righteousness of God, but rather He establishes that righteousness in the Kingdom. It is a righteousness Israel did not possess.
Then Jesus takes the lead in (b’). He asks how David called his Son, “Lord?” David said,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet.”’ (Mark 12:36).
Then the closing (a’) piece again turns to tribute. The scribes walk as though they were pious as they “devour widows’ houses. But the believing widow puts her two small copper coins in the temple treasury! Jesus said,
“they put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she had, her whole life (holos bios)” (Mark 12:44; trans.).
This center part (3) then shows that where Israel defiled the temple, the vassal Son of David has come to build the temple and kingdom filled with righteousness (c). He is the vassal who brings the resurrection (b); for He is enthroned at the right hand of the Suzerain while His enemies are subdued to his kingdom(b’). To Him the tribute (a, a') belongs; He is King!
The contrast between the true covenant Son, Jesus, and the unfaithful covenant son, Israel, is clear. He is the Kingdom building son who builds the true temple. Israel’s temple will be destroyed in judgment (2’; Mark 13:11-23). Throughout this age there will be false prophets, wars, and earthquakes – birth pangs of the passing of this world. They will be persecuted. But in the midst of this, the judgment on Israel for her covenant disobedience would happen in 70 A.D. They would see the desolation on the abominations of Israel; God would destroy the temple. Then Jesus points the disciples to the day when He would come in “great power and glory” (3’; Mark 13:24-36). He will gather His elect into the eschatological temple He built!
Jesus, the Second Adam, represents the King of heaven. As vassal King, He brought desolation on Israel and her temple filled with abominations. He is the faithful covenant Son who brings the Kingdom of God and it's royal temple in everlasting glory. What the Old Covenant Law could not do, God did when He sent Jesus!
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from NASB. Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
trans. indicates my translation
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