Monday, August 6
Scripture: Mark 11:27-33
 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him,  and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?”  Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.  Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.”  And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’  But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet.  So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. This passage forces you to look backward. In order to adequately understand Jesus’ question to the Pharisees (which was so clever!) you have to know the John to whom Jesus is referring. Read Mark 1:1-8 and then consider Jesus’ conversation. If you want more context, find the same account in the other Gospels.
Tuesday, August 7
Scripture: Mark 12:1-12
 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country.  When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.  And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.  Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully.  And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed.  He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’  But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’  And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.  What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.  Have you not read this Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejectedhas become the cornerstone;  this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”  And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away. (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. I know you must think that we often go back to rules of context but they are so very important. You cannot understand this parable well without reading Psalm 118 that Jesus quotes at the end of the parable. What do you think the parable means? Who is the beloved Son?
Historical context is also important. What was the function of the cornerstone? Check this out: https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-Christ-cornerstone.html.
Wednesday, August 8
Scripture: Mark 12:13-17
 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk.  And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”  But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”  And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.”  Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him. (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context. Who are the Herodians? How does knowing who they are change your understanding of this text? Again, I want you to get used to using resources (https://www.gotquestions.org/Herodians.html). This lets us know that Jesus was being opposed by both religious and political leaders…he was doomed to die.
Thursday, August 9
Scripture: Mark 12:18-27
 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying,  “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.  There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring.  And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise.  And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died.  In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”  Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?  For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.  And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context. Yes again. Don’t grow weary of discovering the historical realities behind the text. In the previous passage we discover that the Herodians and the Pharisees are against Jesus. Now a 3rd group is mentioned: the Sadducees. Who were they? What did they believe? What does this let you know about Jesus that the Sadducees are also opposed to him?
Friday, August 10
Scripture: Mark 12:28-34
 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  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.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.  And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Historical Context. Yes again! Here another group emerges: the scribes! Who were they? Do you see the pattern of opposition to Jesus? He lived in the reality of constant opposition.
However their opposition resulted in a great truth from Jesus, a summary of the OT commandments into one! This requires even more look into historical context and into the Old Testament. Jesus is quoting the shema. The shema was a statement that every Hebrew child was taught from infancy: “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” It is found in Deuteronomy 6. Jesus takes their greatest statement of command and replaces it with his own. How significant is this?
How does this apply to our lives today? How do we live out this commandment?