I am the God of Abraham

I am the God of Abraham by Rev. Shine P. Thomas

Mark 11 & 12

God of Abraham, Is The Same Living God We Serve Today

We are living in days where the very existence of God is questioned. The film industry, science and technology continue to question the existence of God. We serve a God who was tested, questioned, and scrutinized in every aspect of his earthly ministry and yet proved himself to be God? If you closely study Jesus’ ministry; he was tested all through his life on earth. The hostility towards Jesus became intense during the final days of Jesus. Today, I want to present to you one such day in the life of Jesus when he was questioned all day long and learn some valuable lessons from it.

It was Tuesday of the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry before Calvary. As Jesus and his disciples were walking through the magnificence and the splendor of Herod’s temple there in Jerusalem, he was approached and stopped by a delegation of people. 

Mark 11:27 

27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him.

This was a very distinguished delegation. These were the national religious figures, civic leaders within the 12 tribes of Israel. They were responsible to be sure that the law was interpreted properly.

These men stopped Jesus and asked him 

Mark 11:28 

28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

May I translate that into our English – “Who do you think you are?” This question was posed to Jesus all through is earthly ministry.

Mark 11:29-30 

29Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” They thought and I supposed discussed it among themselves and the scripture says that they said to Jesus, “We don’t know.”

They played safe because if they accepted John’s baptism they had to accept Jesus Christ. John was pointing the way to the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world, ie Jesus. If they did not accept John’s baptism they were upsetting the people around who were great followers of John the Baptist. So these leaders said to Jesus that they cannot answer that question and Jesus said I will not answer yours. This teaches us a big principle in our Christian faith.

1. We are not to argue about our faith

2 Timothy 2:14

14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

The people of the world find great joy in arguing about God and Jesus Christ, our faith in Him. However, we are not to spend our time arguing about Jesus and his word if they are not serious in knowing who Jesus is.

Instead Jesus said I want to tell you a story, a parable.

 Mark 12:1-9

1 Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.

“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.

God sent His Only Son

There is a land owner and he planted a vineyard. That plant owner is none other than almighty God. The vineyard was Israel. God expected a return for his labor in planting that nation Israel. They were to show the world the way to the Lord Jesus Christ, who would come into this world to die and give himself to save men from their sins. He expected a return. From time to time God sent representatives to this vineyard, this nation Israel, the OT prophets among them.

They were hated and mistreated. Some of them were beaten and injured terribly. Some of them were killed. Finally the land owner, the one who owned the vineyard, almighty God said, “I have my only begotten son whom I love so much. I will send him, surely they will receive him.” So he sent his son and they took him and beat him and mistreated him and killed him. That was Jesus who this very week while he was telling the story would be killed. He would die on the cross at the hands of these very individuals.

So Jesus told that parable to them. His purpose in doing so was because he loved them so much, he wanted them to understand and hear and change heart and turn to him.

 Mark 12:12 

12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away. 

They understood the meaning of this parable and their hearts just hardened even more in the rejection of Jesus Christ.

2. Jesus and his followers are always at war

We live in a world today where there is so much hostility and enmity towards Jesus and his teachings. Everyone who is a true believer of Jesus Christ is hated by this world. Every day we see in the news things that happens question how believers as a minority can live in this nation. That war has been there down through the centuries. What we see in Mark 11 and 12 is a war against Jesus and his followers. The arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus is hatred against God and his teaching. Later as the church began to express the wonderful truth of God around the world, they were hated and persecuted. Christ and believers in Jesus Christ were hated.

So you and I should not be surprised today if we see hostility and enmity towards us in our homes, offices, and the country as we stand for the Word of God. On another occasion Jesus taught in: 

John 15:18-20 

18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

You see, since this world was created there is a war against God, led by the devil. Satan has caught up men and women to war against God’s people. Do not be surprised if you face hostility and enemy for the sake of God. If you serve God wholeheartedly in this world, you will find people standing up against you and your principles.

So this distinguished people left Jesus, but that was not the end of it. 

Mark 12:13 

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words.

Those folks never got along together but it is interesting how they united in their hatred against Jesus Christ.

3. The world unites in its hatred against believers

Is it not interesting that when a person accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his saviour he faces opposition from his family? It is the same in the society. It is the same for a church in any part of the world. Remember, the world unites in its hatred towards believers but thank God for Jesus Christ:

Matthew 28:20

 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

These men spoke beautiful words to Jesus

Mark 12:14 

14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?

They were speaking it as a form of flattery to Jesus as if almighty God could be flattered. Then posed this question which they felt Jesus could not answer. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?

Jesus who is God, who is all wise, asked for a piece of their money, a Roman coin because that is the government under whom they were operating. They handed Jesus this coin and Jesus asked them, “Whose image is on this coin?” They answered the obvious answer, Caesar’s. Jesus said, then you render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, you give to God what is God’s.

There lies a big principle for believers who live in this age of conflict and corruption.

4. We owe some responsibility to the government

Government is God ordained and you and I as individuals are responsible to submit to the government. The government is responsible for the way they rule. Therefore, we are to fulfill our responsibility to the government. So a believer should pay his taxes, be a good citizen.

Mark 12:17 

17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.

5. We owe responsibility to give to God

You may ask me pastor what can I give to God? We are to give our talent, time, and money to God. Listen, here the context is your money. Now what is the portion of our income that belongs to God? Tithe and offerings. So when you get your salary earmark one-Tenth of the income as tithe, bring it to the presence of God. Then separate your offerings. Rightfully your money is only what is left after your tithe and offering.

They could not trap him. That was not the end. There comes another religious group there in the temple, the Sadducees. They come to Jesus and in their question they assume a resurrection which they do not believe and presented a distorted kind of story.

It is a story which is not going to happen. Basically the scenario which they proposed is this: Under the Jewish law, if a man marries a woman and he dies without having a child, his brother has to take her as his wife and have children.

Mark 12:20-23 

20Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?

Jesus responds to them and he says to them that you are saying an error because you do not know the scriptures. Then Jesus taught some very precious things about the resurrection.

Mark 12:25

 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Jesus said, “When the dead rise.” Jesus declares there is a resurrection.

6. There is a resurrection

Dear believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, death is a reality and after death there is a resurrection. Life after the resurrection is far more glorious than life here. We will have glorious bodies which are refashioned. It will be a body without sickness and illness; you should look forward for that. The one reason there is a resurrection is because Jesus rose from the dead. 

1 Corinthians 15:20

 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Now some who is listening to me have your loved one already gone on to heaven and you are wondering, “Well will I have the same relation when I get there?” Dear friend let me assure you, you need to have no fear about that. The Bible teaches that in heaven we shall know as we are known here. How is your loved one known to you? As your husband, wife, father, mother, brother, or sister? When you see that person in glory, it is not going to be wiped out of your memory. You are going to have wonderful times together as you recount the years that God brought you together in a relationship in this world as a husband and wife.

Here, these Sadducees had posed a sorted story to Jesus focusing on the physical. That is the focus here on the marriage act. Jesus is saying to them heaven is a different place. Heaven and eternity are not going to be less compared to earth; they are going to be greater and more wonderful. Jesus who created this world in 6 days has been preparing for you a place now for 2000 years. Can you imagine how much more glorious that place will be?

Our bodies are made glorious and will not have the limitations or passions of the physical bodies of this life in heaven. Things are much greater than the earth, but we do not know much beyond this.

So there is a resurrection and it is a wonderful thing, and your relationship and mine will be wonderful, far surpassing from what we have experienced in this life.

Then Jesus goes on to say: 

Mark 12:26-27

 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’[a]27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

See the tense “I AM” – Present tense. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not on earth now but Jesus said I still am their God. Many years after these men have died, I am still their God. Yes they died in their physical bodies but they are still alive. 

He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

The dead in Christ are very much conscious and alive in heaven today. Their bodies have been laid to rest in the dust of this earth but their spirit is happily with God waiting for the trumpet call that day they will be raised in the resurrection.

John 11:25 

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

This proves beyond any doubt that Jesus is God.

7. Jesus is God

Remember this is the question early in our message – Who do you think you are? By what authority do you teach these things? Jesus proved he is God. Jesus was God in the beginning. He is God now and is God in heaven. Even after our death he continues to be our God. He is the great I AM.

Then there came to Jesus another man with another question

Mark 12:28 

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus answered him a great answer

Mark 12:29-31 

29“The most important one, ”answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

This answer of Jesus has simple steps on how can person can serve God.

8. How can one serve God?

a. Understand God is one

There is only one God. He is Jesus Christ.

b. Love your Lord

Let me pause for a moment. Let me ask you. “Do you love the Lord your God?” Yes we do. Do you love him with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength? That is a tall order. Then Jesus went on with that great answer v31

c. Love your neighbor as yourself

That is a great commandment also. The first one deals with our relationship with God, the second one deals with our relationship with those around us. If those 2 commandments were perfectly true in our lives, what glorious lives we would have.

Dear friend, there is only one true God. His name is Jesus, Jehovah. He is the one and only true God. All of your destiny hinges on how you answer that question: Who is this one, this Jesus?

This little chapter in Mark ends with a beautiful picture. After answering all the people, Jesus sat down there by the temple, he went over there by the treasury. People gave their tithes and offerings to God and as he sat there with his disciples, the people were coming by and they were casting money into the treasury and many of those who were rich cast much and apparently from the sense of the contexts they made that very plane. They made quite a show of putting that big money note there in the treasury. But then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “Did you see that little widow?” She has nothing and she came by the treasury and she threw in 2 coins which was a fraction of a penny. 

Mark 12:42 

42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

In our terms, she put in two twenty-five paisa coins which made half a rupee. The temple did not need 50 paisa. In the midst of all the splendor and glory, this did not make any difference at all. It really did not affect their budget. But this little lady does not have anything else. Jesus who is God knew that, commended her above those who gave much because they gave out of great substance, they did not miss or were burdened with what they gave because they gave so much. But this little lady had a different heart. She gave all that she had.

This is to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength.

He gave it all for us, why don’t we give our all for Jesus?

I do not know your condition in life but whatever it is love Jesus in sincerity of heart. Jesus made his way to the cross for you and me. He gave it all for us, why don’t we give our all for Jesus.

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