Mark 12

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The Lord taught in parables to hide meanings from those who were unenlightened. At least, that is the reason often cited. However, in this instance, the parable is intended to rebuke the hard-hearted Jewish leaders but the Master's meaning does not go over their heads, "for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them." In this instance, the parable, rather than masking some eternal truth, emphasizes the injustice of the wicked husbandmen-that they would be so wicked as to steal the inheritance and kill those sent to them. The meaning is clear. The rebuke is a scathing one. Their response is to plot the Master's death (Luke 20:19-20), thereby perfectly fulfilling the role of the wicked husbandmen.

James E. Talmage

As the chief priests and Pharisees realized the completeness of their discomfiture and the extent of the humiliation to which they had been subjected in the eyes of the people, they were incensed beyond measure, and even attempted to lay hold on Jesus there in the temple; but the sympathies of the multitude were so unmistakably in His favor that the angry ecclesiasts desisted. The people in general, while not prepared to openly proclaim Him as the Christ, knew that He was a prophet of God. (Jesus the Christ, 497.)

Mark 12:9 he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others

Bruce R. McConkie

For rejecting the Stone of Israel, the Church and kingdom was to be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles. Those Jews who rejected and slew the Heir were to be destroyed. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 593-594.)

Brigham Young

Were not the Jews destroyed-scattered and broken up as a nation? They were, because they made war against God, and against His servants whom He had called and sent to them with a message of salvation. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 10: 303.)

Mark 12:13 they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians

"Conspiring in the plot were Pharisees and Herodians. The Pharisees were members of a religious party among the Jews who prided themselves on their strict observance of the Mosaic law and on the care with which they avoided contact with anything gentile in deed or appearance. The Herodians consisted of a political party among the Jews who supported Herod.

"The two groups usually were rivals, but on this occasion they joined forces in an attempt to provoke Jesus to say or do something that would be either an infringement of the Mosaic law or a disloyalty to the secular powers then in force." ("On the Last Day the Savior Taught in Public," LDS Church News, 05/18/91)

James E. Talmage

Pharisees and Herodians joined forces against Him; the one watchful for the smallest technical infringement of the Mosaic law, the other alert to seize upon the slightest excuse for charging Him with disloyalty to the secular powers. Their plans were conceived in treachery, and put into operation as the living embodiment of a lie. Choosing some of their number who had not before appeared in personal antagonism to Jesus, and who were supposed to be unknown to Him, the chief conspirators sent these with instructions to "feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor." (Jesus the Christ, 505)

Mark 12:14 Master, we know that thou art true

James E. Talmage

This delegation of hypocritical spies came asking a question, in pretended sincerity, as though they were troubled in conscience and desired counsel of the eminent Teacher. "Master," said they with fawning duplicity, "we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men." This studied tribute to our Lord's courage and independence of thought and action was truthful in every word; but as uttered by those fulsome dissemblers and in their nefarious intent, it was egregiously false. (Jesus the Christ, 505)

Mark 12:17 Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's

L. Tom Perry

We declare in the twelfth article of faith, "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." We find that this counsel is continually needed in the Church today. Members of the Church should be committed to obeying and honoring the law of the land in which they live. We should be exemplary in our obedience to the laws of our local and national governments. As the Savior taught, we should render "unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" so that the hearts of the leaders of nations are softened toward us, allowing us to render "unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21).

After the Savior's ministry, the apostles urged the Saints to be orderly and law abiding. Writing to Titus, Paul declared, "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work" (Titus 3:1).

As Church members, we live under many different national flags. How important it is that we understand our place and our position in the land in which we live! We should be familiar with the history, heritage, and laws that govern our land. In those countries that allow citizens the right to participate in the affairs of government, we should use our God-given agency and be actively engaged in supporting and defending the principles of truth, right, and freedom. (Living with Enthusiasm [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 80.)

James E. Talmage

A question has many times been asked of the Church and of its individual members, to this effect: In the case of a conflict between the requirements made by the revealed word of God, and those imposed by the secular law, which of these authorities would the members of the Church be bound to obey? In answer, the words of Christ may be applied-it is the duty of the people to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. (Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 383.)

Dallin H. Oaks

Some Latter-day Saints are confused over the content, purposes, and procedures of the two kinds of laws that apply to them, the laws of God and the laws of man.

The divinely directed pattern in this dispensation is clear. It is one of dual jurisdiction. The children of God in every nation are subject to one authority that establishes and administers the laws of God and to another group of authorities who establish and administer the laws of man.

Modern revelations prescribe that dual system and instruct the faithful how to live within it. The Saints are directed to be "subject to the powers that be" and to keep what are called "the laws of the land" in addition to what are called "the laws of God" or "the laws of the Church." (D&C 58:21-23.) The official "declaration of belief" of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, adopted in 1835 and published in the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, declares that "human laws [are] instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man," and that "divine laws [are] given of heaven" to prescribe "rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship." Significantly, the scripture adds that "both [are] to be answered by man to his Maker." (D&C 134:6.) (The Lord's Way [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 210.)

Mark 12:17 Render... to God the things that are God's

It is much easier for us to render to Caesar than to render to God. President Kimball understood this when he asked, "What percentage of your increase do you pay Caesar? And what percent to God?" (Ensign, Mar. 1981, 5) We should not delude ourselves into thinking God wants our money. He doesn't need it or want it. He wants something much more precious-our heart, might, mind, and strength. He wants us to consecrate our lives to Him.

Neal A. Maxwell

The submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar. The many other things we "give," brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God's will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!

Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory! ("Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 24)

Mark 12:23 in the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them?

This question is a trap and Jesus knows it. The Sadducees don't believe in the resurrection so why would they ask a question about the marital relationship in the resurrection. The entire purpose of the question is to try to make the doctrine of resurrection look ridiculous. How well do the Sadducees do in making a mockery of the doctrine? Not very well. Rather, they mock the new and everlasting covenant-a covenant they don't understand, believe, or practice. With no sealing power among the Jewish authorities, they have no way of knowing what they are talking about. They only know enough of the traditions of their righteous forefathers to make a mockery of that which is sacred. Because of their limited understanding, the Master gives them a limited answer. He will not cast the Father's pearls before such swine.
"The Lord did not say there would be no people in the married state in the resurrection, but that there would be no marriages made in the resurrection... Simply put, that means no marriages are made in the resurrection. The Lord was warning the Sadducees. They were Jews of the day who had rejected him and therefore had no access to the higher ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood. How could these men, whom Jesus had called a "generation of vipers" (Matt. 3:7), qualify for the highest blessings of the celestial kingdom?" (David H. Yarn Jr., "I Have a Question," Ensign, Feb. 1986, 35)
Spencer W. Kimball
And now, we ask you, what does this mean? The Sadducees were discussing matters about which they knew little or nothing. Was there accusation in his voice? Was he saying to the Sadducees, "Open your blind eyes and see. Open your stony hearts and understand"?
My friends, do you understand the implication and truth of this statement of the Lord? Though somewhat veiled in scripture, it is clear and understandable when supported by modern revelation.
Elder James E. Talmage writes: "The Lord's meaning was clear, that in the resurrected state there can be no question among the seven brothers as to whose wife for eternity the woman shall be, since all except the first had married her for the duration of mortal life only. ... In the resurrection there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage; for all questions of marital status must be settled before that time, under the authority of the Holy Priesthood, which holds the power to seal in marriage for both time and eternity" (Jesus the Christ, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982, p. 509). ("Temples and Eternal Marriage," Ensign, Feb. 1995, 42)

Mark 12:30 thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart

Ezra Taft Benson
The great test of life is obedience to God. "We will prove them herewith," said the Lord, "to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them" (Abr. 3:25).
The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it.
The great commandment of life is to love the Lord...
To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being-physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually-to a love of the Lord.
The breadth, depth, and height of this love of God extend into every facet of one's life. Our desires, be they spiritual or temporal, should be rooted in a love of the Lord. Our thoughts and affections should be centered on the Lord. "Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord," said Alma, "yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever" (Alma 37:36).
Why did God put the first commandment first? Because He knew that if we truly loved Him we would want to keep all of His other commandments. "For this is the love of God," says John, "that we keep his commandments" (1 Jn. 5:3; see also 2 Jn. 1:6).
We must put God in the forefront of everything else in our lives. He must come first, just as He declares in the first of His Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3).
When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.
We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives...
May God bless us to put the first commandment first and, as a result, reap peace in this life and eternal life with a fulness of joy in the life to come, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. ("The Great Commandment-Love the Lord," Ensign, May 1988, 4)

Mark 12:31 thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself

Rex D. Pinegar
It is that love for the Lord and for our neighbors-all men everywhere-that is the motivating force which prompts my friend's son, and twenty-seven thousand like him, to leave home, friends, family, security, and comfort to go among unknown neighbors throughout the world with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is because we love the Lord and our neighbor that we are willing to go to any length, sacrifice at any price, to share the message that has brought joy and happiness into our own lives. For Latter-day Saints declare that God lives. He loves all men. He will lead all who will repent and follow him to everlasting joy and happiness. ("The Gift of Love," Ensign, Nov. 1978, 10)
Gordon B. Hinckley
The teachings set forth in modern temples give powerful emphasis to this most fundamental concept of man's duty to his Maker and to his brother. Sacred ordinances amplify this ennobling philosophy of the family of God. They teach that the spirit within each of us is eternal, in contrast with the body that is mortal. They not only give understanding of these great truths but also motivate the participant to love of God and encourage him to demonstrate a greater neighborliness toward others of our Father's children. ("Why These Temples?" Ensign, Aug. 1974, 39)

Mark 12:31 There is none other commandment greater than these

John Wells
If our deep sense of responsibility to our God and to our fellow-men were understood as our Master intended it to be, there would be few other laws needed. There would be no occasion for the states of the Union to enact thirteen thousand laws a year if we were living the two great laws given by Jesus.
To love one's neighbor is to be a brother to him in the largest, deepest and most serious sense of the term. Neighborliness is helpfulness, sympathy, kindliness and good will, without any expectation of reward. (Conference Report, October 1929, Second Day-Morning Meeting 54.)

Mark 12:34-37 And no man after that durst ask him any question

If the Jewish leaders of the day were smart, they would know not to get into a bible bash with Jesus of Nazareth. Can you imagine trying to debate the Master scriptorian? How would you like to dispute points of the Law of Moses with the giver of the Law? Yet, during the Lord's final week, all factions of the religious establishment make the blunder of the centuries by trying to trick him. The chief priests, scribes and elders question his authority (Mark 11:27-28); the Pharisees and Herodians ask about tribute to Caesar (v. 13-14); and the Sadducees ask about marriage in the resurrection (v. 18-23). All these, who adore the honor of the people, are made as fools before the delighted crowd.
Now it is His turn to go on the offensive. At the age of twelve, he was capable of outwitting them (JST Luke 2:46). Now, at the close of his ministry, there is no reason to hold back. He could have asked them a thousand questions about the Law but he needed only one. The question got at the root of the conundrum-how could Jehovah, the God of Abraham and Moses, come in the form of a mortal man, through the lineage of David as the Messiah of the Jews and Savior of the world? If they understood the answer to this question, they would understand who stood before them. If their hearts were open they would have fallen on their knees and removed their shoes as Moses on Sinai. If their necks were not as brass, they would have humbly sought his forgiveness and moistened his feet with their tears. Instead, the chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees got schooled in a most humiliating way.

Mark 12:39 the uppermost rooms at feasts

"A number of houses featured a permanent structure on the second story. These upper rooms were sometimes called summer rooms, and hosts often used them as guest chambers. When a family entertained a large number of guests, the most honored were assigned the upper chamber. Some even assumed the honor of this room and loved to be seen there. The Lord warned his disciples about scribes who did this." (Richard D. Draper, "Home Life at the Time of Christ," Ensign, Sept. 1987, 57)

Mark 12:41 Jesus...beheld how the people cast money into the treasury

Vaughn J. Featherstone
"Jesus was aware of their giving. It was a worthy act, and much good would be done. He did not depreciate what any had given. Many leaders today would calculate only that amount of money that could be used to generate further gain in substantial amounts. Little notice would be given to the widow, undoubtedly embarrassed, of little consequence, ill dressed, probably trembling and humble, who approached the treasury. She cast in two mites, two of the smallest Hebrew coins. Two mites weren't even enough to buy a loaf of bread. She probably dared not so much as lift up her eyes for fear that someone had seen her meager gift and might mock her. I can imagine she hastened away to avoid shame or embarrassment." (More Purity Give Me [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 14.)
Bruce R. McConkie
"No word was spoken to the sorrowing widow who in her penury had sacrificed her all, nor did she then so much as know that the Judge of all had weighed her gift in the eternal scales and found it of more worth than the wealth of kings." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 3: 410.)

Mark 12:42 a certain poor widow...threw in two mites

How many of us feel as if our contributions are unnoticed or unimportant? Others seem to offer so much more that we sometimes feel embarrassed, like this poor widow, to make our measly contribution. Yet, to the angels taking notes, the spirit of the donation matters more than the monetary value. Indeed, there must be a heavenly exchange rate by which such "measly" yet meaningful donations are registered.
Elder Elray L. Christiansen
"Her contribution amounted to very little in monetary value, about one half of a penny of our money, but it was not the smallness of her offering that made it especially acceptable unto the Lord as he witnessed her placing her money in the treasury, but it was the spirit of sacrifice that she had shown... Dedication, it seems to me, in some form, is the real essence of all religion. Dedication to the will of the Lord and to his work is the religion of the Latter-day Saints. In this dispensation of the gospel, thousands have met the test when called upon to sacrifice their personal positions, their time, and even their lives, in order to establish and defend the kingdom of God upon the earth." (Conference Report, October 1955, Afternoon Meeting 122.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
I hold in my hand a widow's mite. It was given me in Jerusalem many years ago and I was told that it is genuine. . . . I keep it in my office as a constant reminder of the fearsome responsibility of spending that which comes of the consecrations of the members of the Church. Most of the wonderful, faithful Latter-day Saints who pay their tithing are men and women of modest means. They not only pay their tithing, but they also make many other contributions for the strengthening of this work.
Some time back a small, bent, elderly woman came to my office. For the purpose of this talk I shall call her Mary Olsen, although that is not her name and she would not wish her identity disclosed. She said she had just come over from the temple. She took from her purse her checkbook. She said that she had been a widow for many years, that life had not been easy for her. She had a great love for the Lord and his Church. She had faithfully paid her tithing all her life. She felt she would not live much longer. Now, she said, she felt she ought to be doing more to help than she had done. In a hand shaky with age, she wrote a check for $5,000. She handed it to me. I noted the address where she lived. It was in a poor neighborhood. I confess that as I looked at that check tears came into my eyes. I have held many larger checks than that in my hands. But as I held the check of this widow woman, I was almost overcome by her faith and the seriousness of the trust that was mine in the expenditure of her consecrated contribution. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 139 - 140.)

Mark 12:44 she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living

Thomas S. Monson
"I mention José Garcia from Mexico. Born in poverty but nurtured in faith, José prepared for a mission call. I was present the day his recommendation was received. There appeared the statement, 'Brother Garcia will serve at great sacrifice to his family, for he is the means of much of the family support. He has but one possession-a treasured stamp collection-which he is willing to sell, if necessary, to help finance his mission.'
"President Kimball listened attentively as this statement was read to him, and then he responded: 'Have him sell his stamp collection. Such sacrifice will be to him a blessing.' Then this loving prophet said: 'Each month at Church headquarters we receive thousands of letters from all parts of the world. See that we save these stamps and provide them to José at the conclusion of his mission. He will have, without cost, the finest stamp collection of any young man in Mexico.'" ("Profiles of Faith," Ensign, Feb. 1997, 3-4)
Brigham Young
"The Lord requires all we have to be devoted to His kingdom; and though it be but the widow's mite, He can do as much with two mites as we can with millions of them." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 2: 96.)