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Delight in God

Date: Mar. 8, 2020

Author: Michael Mark

Mark 12:35-44

Key Verse: Mark 12:37

"David himself calls him 'Lord.' How then can he be his son?" The large crowd listened to him with delight.

To delight means to please someone greatly, or to take great pleasure in something.  Can you remember a time when you were delighted with or about someone or something?  It’s always great to hear how the kids in our ministry always look forward to conferences and retreats.  I’ve heard about Paul, Ella and Lukey being excited for the next retreat, asking their parents when and where they will go next, and being so excited the nights before the events.  I get excited going on vacations with Mary, and I love being able to spend all day together with her weeks at a time, it’s never enough time. I am also delighted every day by my daughter Ellie.  Her little chirping in the morning, her giggles and smiles and the little things she does every day bring such joy to me.  Just thinking about her big cheeks makes me smile.  In the same way, how many of you take delight in God?  What does it mean to delight in God?  If you can find something good in this life to delight in, then you can also delight in God.  What’s even better is that there are even more reasons (than just the good things in this life) to delight in God, and we will learn more about them today.

Last week we learned about the most important commandments – to love our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  The key to this is following Jesus, who enables us to do these things.  But what gives us strength to do these things, and to do them well?  It’s delight!  It’s joy!  Joy is what fills our tanks to give us that little energy boost, and that pep in our step.  Even a popular Bible verse from Neh 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Love and joy go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Both of these things are also like a two way street, when it comes to loving and delighted in others.  Love and joy are complete only when the two people love each other and delight in one another.  To be able to truly love God and delight in him, you should also know him, and that is what Jesus is about to teach as we begin today’s passage.

As many of you might be aware, these verses take place on the Tuesday of Passion Week, three days before Jesus’ death.  Pretty much from the start of the day when Jesus entered the temple courts until now, groups of religious leaders came one after another to challenge and undermine Jesus and his teachings.  After last week’s message no one dared ask him any more questions.  The day is winding down, and Jesus will now teach the crowd a final lesson about who he is, and give them a warning about the teachers of the law.  Look at v.35, “While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, ‘Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David?’”  The religious leaders had stopped asking questions, so Jesus now opens with a question of his own.  His intention is not to trap them, like they did to him. What Jesus is about to do now is to expose their ignorance, and correct and teach everyone the truth about who he is.

He asks, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Messiah is the son of David?”  This is what was commonly taught, and it is true, that the title of the Messiah is the son of David.  The Messiah was expected to be a descendant of King David, but they didn’t teach that he had anything more than a human nature.  They stripped the Messiah of the divine nature.  To them Messiah was the “son of David,” or “son of Man,” but not the “son of God.”  This is what they were missing.  Jesus is teaching that he, the Messiah, was both man and God, that he had both a human nature and a Divine nature.

To prove this, Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1.  Look at v.36, “David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: ‘The LORD said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’”  Why did Jesus choose this reference?  For one, the teachers of the law accept that this Psalm was truly written by King David.  Second, they accept this Psalm as Messianic, that is, this Psalm talks about the Messiah.  In Psalm 110 you see that the Messiah will become a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, and that he will crush and judge the nations.  So this Psalm clearly does not refer to David, but it is David writing about the Messiah.  Jesus also mentions that David wrote this by the Holy Spirit, signifying that this Psalm is a decree right from the mouth of God, and is authoritative and cannot be changed.

So – if David wrote this Psalm, and it is about the Messiah, Jesus asks a most crucial and intriguing question.  This question will blow everyone’s mind.  Can we all please read v.37, “ ‘David himself calls him ‘Lord.’  How then can he be his son?’  The large crowd listened to him with delight.”  Woah there.  Wait a minute now.  David writes “The LORD said to my Lord.”  David is the third party here.  The first LORD is God the Father, Yahweh.  The second Lord is the Messiah.  If the Messiah is the son of David, why is he calling him his Lord?  Because no father would call his own son “lord.” Msn. Gideon does not call his son, “My Lord Paul.”  Orlando does not call his son, “My Lord Orlando Jr.”  I do call Ellie “princess” sometimes though.  But, back to the subject at hand, why does David call his son “my Lord?”

That is a fascinating question.  The people are at the edge of their seats.  How can this problem be solved?  It can only be resolved by this fact: that the Messiah is both the son of David AND the son of God.  David knows the Messiah is his Lord, because by the Holy Spirit it was revealed that the Messiah, who would be descended from him, is also the son of God!  The Messiah has both a human nature and a divine nature.  The Messiah is the son of David according to the flesh, but he is also the son of God according to the Holy Spirit.  And if people were already wondering if Jesus could be the Messiah, what does this mean?  It means that Jesus is the son of David AND the son of God.  What can this mean?  It means that God is with us, Immanuel.  It means that the kingdom of God is near, and the salvation of the world is at hand.  If the Messiah was merely a human, how could the whole world be saved?  But if the Messiah is God, well, that changes everything we know.  Hope will rise because nothing is impossible with God.

Look again at the end of v.37, “The large crowd listened to him with delight.”  What were they delighting in?  They were delighting in Jesus, and his words.  Yes, Jesus taught like none other, and yes, Jesus taught with authority, but because Jesus is God, he speaks with power and with truth.  Just like the crowd, in order to find delight in Jesus, we have to find delight in the word of God.  The word of God tells us who Jesus is, and what he came to do.  The word of God contains in it timeless truths, and is useful in all areas of our lives.  Notice how Jesus proved the resurrection – he pointed to the Book of Moses, where God said “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”  Notice how Jesus summed up the greatest commandments – he pointed to Deut 6:4,5 and Lev 19:18.  And see how Jesus proved he was the son of God, here with Psalm 110:1.  In the word of God we learn of God’s holiness, and God’s love, his patience and compassion.  We learn his commands, which are not burdensome, to love one another.  It is important to delight in the word of God, find pleasure in reading it, as you are reading the very words of God.  It is daily food for the soul.  This is why we also come to church on Sundays, to worship but to also learn from God’s word.  This is why our anchor points at conferences are messages and Bible study.  We gather together to hear from God’s word, and grow by it, but may it also be a delight to you.

This hopefully is not a spoiler for you, but undoubtedly some in the crowd who listened to Jesus with delight would be the same people who would shout “Crucify Him!” later.  This is due to two reasons: one, listening to bad teachers, and two, not doing what the word of God says.  Jesus just exposed the ignorance of the teachers of the law, who rejected the most important truth about who Jesus is – the Son of God.  Now he is sounding the alarm, warning the crowd to beware of bad teachers.  Look at v.38-39, “As he taught, Jesus said, ‘Watch out for the teachers of the law.  They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.’”  What have we learned about the religious leaders thus far?  They tried to accuse Jesus about fasting and the Sabbath.  They turned the temple into a marketplace.  They plotted together to try to kill Jesus, and tried to trap him with trick questions.  But look!  They walk around in long flowing robes, demand respect and sit at the most visible seats in meetings.  What is on the outside does not match what is on the inside.  They want to be seen as holy, righteous, noble and honorable, but they are full of pride and extreme greed on the inside.  The robes they wear are designed to impress and get a reaction out of people, but they do not practice what they preach.

Jesus even told the crowds in Matt 23:3-5 to be careful to do what they say, but not what they do, because they do not practice what they preach, even though they preach the law.  They enforce the law on other people, but they themselves do not follow it.  It’s like a corrupt police officer who punish and abuse drug dealers and thieves, but he deal drugs and steals himself.  Their greed and hypocrisy are shown in v.40, “They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.  These men will be punished most severely.”  The teachers of the law were not paid, so they depended on the charity of supporters to make a living.  The practice Jesus reveals here are no different than a con man or a snake oil salesman.  Their robes and prayers make them look extra religious.  Long prayers are not bad at all, but if they are fake prayers they are bad.  The teachers of the law could through flattery or manipulation or exploit a distraught widow, maybe convincing her that selling her house would be contributing to God’s work, when they really had in mind to put that money in their own pockets.  You see these sorts of people today selling get rich quick schemes, and they prey mainly on the poor or elderly.  It is bad enough that these people commit these crimes, but to pretend to be religious while doing it is a double offense.  That is why Jesus said that these people would be punished most severely.  Note those words, “most severely.”  They’re in for a lot of trouble.  Jesus is telling the crowd to beware, watch out for the teachers of the law such as these, and stay far away from them.

Ironically, as Jesus instructed the crowd in Matt 23:3-5, he told them to do what they say, but not what they do.  The teachers of the law taught the law, and the law was not bad.  So while it is important to delight in the word of God, it is equally important to delight in doing the word of God, to practice what it says.  The teachers of the law clearly did not delight in doing the word of God, for they practiced all kinds of evil, injustice, pride and greed.  We know the greatest commands to love God and neighbor.  Some examples of what that looks like can be found as we read the Bible.  We are told to be holy, to keep ourselves free from the pollution of the world, avoiding the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, and to walk humbly with God.  We are told to love and serve one another.  We can learn to pray in the Bible.  In everything we do, we do for the glory of God, to do good, to live for God every day.  In doing what is right, we can keep our consciences clear and be at peace.  The book of James has lot of examples also, especially in Ch.1.  Jam 1:22 and 25 say, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says…Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”

Jesus’ teaching about himself and warning about the teachers of the law concludes his teaching of the crowds in the temple courts, so Jesus takes a seat and takes a break, and then he notices something remarkable.  Look at v.41, “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.  Many rich people threw in large amounts.”  Jesus went to another section of the temple where there were offering boxes with openings that looked like trumpets to deposit money.  There were several of these boxes which were dedicated to different things.  Perhaps they were in a visible area and something observers could casually see, to watch people drop offerings into certain buckets.  Maybe it was something interesting to watch, and Jesus sat observing.  Many rich people threw in large amounts but one thing really caught the attention of Jesus.  Look at v.42, “But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.” 

Jesus was so impressed with this widow’s offering, that he used the occasion as a lesson to his disciples.  Comparatively, at a surface level, the rich people’s offering seems, if I may say, hundreds of times greater than the widow’s, but we see what Jesus thinks starting in v.43, “Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.”  Jesus even begins with “Truly I tell you.”  This is like Jesus saying, pay very careful attention to this.  We have learned that many rich people came.  Some may have put in 30 denarius, some 100, maybe others 365, one year’s worth, maybe more.  I don’t know if Jesus means that her offering, of a few cents was greater than any one of these, or of everyone’s combined, but one thing is for sure – her offering of a few cents had more value in God’s eyes than anyone or everyone else, even compared to the most generous donor.

Nobody surpassed this woman in giving, and Jesus tells his disciples why in v.44, “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.”  This tells you what God values.  God is not concerned with how much you give, he’s concerned with how you give.  He looks at what’s in the heart, not what’s in the hand.  He looks at the motive, not the money.  So no one ever needs to worry about how much they can give, and no one should feel obligated, guilty or reluctant.  If there is any reluctance, just give according to your comfort.  Paul says in 2 Cor 9:7 “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Generosity is encouraged, but the tithe, or 10% rule, is not mandatory; offerings in the New Testament are free will offerings.  You give according to your means, and you can give any amount - $.05, $5, $100, 3%, 10%, 80%.  Paul writes in 2 Cor 8:12, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.”  The heart is what matters.  It is not mandatory, so please always always be free whether or not to give an offering and how much.  As treasurer I am thankful for everyone’s contributions and every penny has been a blessing and useful to pay for Bible House, Bible Club and other ministry expenses.

This widow put in everything – all she had to live on.  That means later on, or the next day, she would have to work to earn money to buy something to eat.  She had nothing else.  Perhaps she had also sold her house and given it to one of the teachers of the law.  But here also you see a stark contrast with the religious leaders.  They were proud, greedy and pretended to be religious.  This widow most likely did not know that Jesus was watching, but Jesus knew.  Even what we do in secret, the Lord knows.  Even if no one else notices, and we don’t get our praise, God is storing up praise for us in heaven.  Jesus did not go up to her and promise her a multiplication of her donation, but based on his response, he’s preparing a treasure in heaven for her far greater than what the rich people have offered.

This widow is an exemplary example of loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind.  She trusted that God could provide for her food and shelter some other way.  Again, does this mean we should give up all we have to live on?  By no means.  Micah 6:6-8 says, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?  Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  God wants you to be holy.  To act justly, to do good.  To love mercy, not sacrifice, but the willing surrender of yourself.  And to walk humbly with him.  Your heart and attitude toward God is primary, giving is secondary to that, like a gift you would give in a good relationship, the relationship comes first.

One could question the motive of this widow’s heart.  Did she feel pressured to give everything?  Did she feel any reluctance or guilt to give it all?  But all that is cleared away by Jesus’ praise.  Jesus saw her heart, and saw that she gave willingly, freely and faithfully.  He did not need to ask her if that was all she had to live on, he knew already.  She gave cheerfully and generously.  How could she give as much as she did?  It was because she delighted in God.  How or why, we can only guess what God has done in her life.  But she loved God, and it was printed all over her heart.  She gave in worship, and made an offering to God, in effect entrusting her life into God’s hands.  She delighted in God, and God delighted in her.

We can all delight in God for all the good he has done in our lives.  He gave me a beautiful wife and a super cute daughter.  He really made her so cute to me.  His mercies are new every day, he provides the food I eat, and the shelter I stay in, and the electricity for all my devices.  He helps me when I am in need, and strengthens me whenever I am weak, and by my side in difficult times.  All good things come from God.  If we can delight in the good things, all we need to do is look behind the curtain to see who brought it all here, and give him praise and thanks.  But we can delight in God for even more.  We can delight in God because he has given us his living word to guide us in life.  We can delight in God because he so loved us that he has sent his one and only son Jesus Christ into the world.  We can delight in God because he came to rescue us from sin and death, by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, so that we too can have the resurrection.  We can delight in God because he is the King, establishing his kingdom through his defeating his and our enemies, and bids us come, follow him into the His kingdom of righteousness, love and peace.  His Word is our promise and guarantee.  We can delight in God because He is Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Son of God.  Delight in the Word of God.  Delight in doing the word of God.  Delight in God, and he will delight in you.

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