As he did so often, in today’s Mark reading, Jesus takes one of the religious leaders’ questions and flips it on its head. The religious leader asks about whether or not he should have to pay taxes. Jesus responds brilliantly! If the image of Caesar is on the coin, sure, give it to him, but where is the image of God?
- Just like the homes were supposed to face the Tent of Meeting, certain Jewish prayers are supposed to be said in the direction of the place the temple was.
- 38 – Interesting that part of the priestly duty was to guard the temple. This seems like a strange task for priests.
- 44-51 – The Levites weren’t killed in exchange for the first born of each Israelite family, they were simply set apart for service to God and the Lord allowed that commitment to redeem the lives of all the first born.
- 27-33 – Jesus was adept at sidestepping the religious leaders’ attempts to incriminate him.
- 1-12 – This parable describes God sending prophet after prophet to the Israelites trying to get them to repent and follow him. Over and over the prophets were rejected. Finally God sends Jesus and Jesus too is rejected and killed.
- 13-17 – The image of Caesar is on the coin but the image of God is on us. We can pay our taxes as designed but give our lives to God.
- A reminder that we serve a God who can overcome anything and thus deserves praise.
Verses 16-24 of our Leviticus reading today are pretty disturbing. We have to remember that many of the laws, like how to divorce, and this one about not letting people with physical deformities be priests, were to put parameters around things people were already doing. In the ancient Israelite culture, great importance was put on physical appearance (we can probably relate whether we like to or not) and God was trying to get people out of their own way.
- Being separate or set apart was important. God’s holiness sets him apart from humanity. God set the Israelites apart from other nations as his people. Some foods and other items were set apart to be holy enough or worthy enough for his people.
- 1-9 – Priests had extra rules applied to them since they offered the sacrifices and had a special position.
- 16-24 – Definitely a confusing passage in our current context. Like it said in 1 Samuel when David was chosen king, God doesn’t look at outward appearances but people do. This law was established so that people wouldn’t be distracted by their own judgment during worship.
- Moses and Elijah were two heroes of the Jewish faith. The disciples would have been awestruck by seeing these distinguished men.
- 13 – John the Baptist was often compared to Elijah.
- 24 – Often our problem is unbelief. We may believe in God’s power and ability in certain areas of life, but in others we think we need to handle it.
- Note that in the story when the disciples don’t have enough faith to heal, Jesus does. Jesus often fills the gap when our ability ends.
- 29 – This is true of many of our earthly problems.
- 4 – Too often we ask for things of God and then fail to praise him for what he’s done.
It’s easy to forget that Jesus was a man with feelings. It’s also easy to forget that the disciples were his friends – those he had spent all his time with teaching and training them. And one of them turns him over to be killed. Can you imagine the hurt you would feel if you were Jesus?
- At this time the priesthood was passed down generation to generation. Priests came from the tribe of Levi.
- We are in the middle of a series of very detailed descriptions. These are actually great blessings because we want to be able to worship God in a way that is honoring and pleasing to him. Detailed instructions make that much more likely.
- 1-10 – God begins to instruct the priests on how they should intercede for the people and lead worship and sacrifices.
- It’s sad that Judas wasn’t coerced or forced into betraying Jesus. He sought the opportunity out himself.
- 20 – People literally reclined for meals. The original Passover was in a rush and people were not to recline or get comfortable as normal.
- 26-28 – Our practice of communion relates back to the last supper, which relates back to Passover.
- 39 – People often wonder how to pray for the things they want. We can ask for anything we want or need, but it is healthiest when we pray for these things while surrendering to God’s will first.
We would all like to identify with the sheep in Matthew 25, but there are still hungry people, those who are cold in the winter, and those who sit lonely in prison. So who are we really? Read and find out.
- 1 – Aaron and his sons become Israel’s priests.
- 2 – The priestly garments are made “for glory and for beauty.” The tabernacle was built in similar fashion as are sanctuaries today. Places and things that represent God should do so to reflect who God is including his majesty and beauty.
- 42- Other than the fig leaves in the garden, this is the first time underwear is mentioned.
- 31-46 – A famous passage calling us to serve those who are the least in our society as if we were serving Christ.
- 6-13 – Interesting placement after the mandate to serve the least of these and then the woman is praised for using expensive things on Jesus that could have been used for the poor. This is a case of doing what is good versus doing what is best.
- Encouragement to call on and trust in God even in the worst of circumstances.