One of the titles of Jesus that we are looking at today is the title of Lord. I think that the true sense of that word is somewhat lost on our culture today. It would be better understood in a feudal system, where someone who was considered the lord owned all the land, provided protection and was served by the people of the land. Over time, the title extended to various types of nobility, such as a Lord of Parliament, or someone called Lord who held an office of authority in government. Another historical use of the word was, of course to denote divinity. The Caesars used to claim the title of lord, and would make their subjects offer incense once a year and they were forced to proclaim when making the incense offering that Caesar is lord. So there were many different possible meanings of the title Lord, ranging from master or owner, to nobility, to sovereign, to that of divinity.
And one of the things that makes it even more confusing to 21st century Christians is that the title of Lord is used in a variety of ways in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. One of my favorite references of this title is found in 1 Peter 3:6, and one which I have tried to remind my wife of, but with little success, which says that Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. Now obviously, that is not something that is commonly done in our culture, nor in my house either, for that matter.
But to understand the full significance of this title, we need to consider it in the context of this passage which occurs in the last week of Jesus ministry before the cross, which is called the Passion week. You will remember that in chapter 11 Jesus had come into the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey on Sunday morning, and the crowds were calling out ““Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” So they were saying that He was coming as the Son of David, which was understood to be a title of the Messiah. And He is coming in the name of Jehovah, which is the personal name of God, which is what the word LORD was substituted for.
Then the next day, Jesus came into the temple and drove out the money changers and the vendors and stopped the commercial enterprise of the priests who were taking advantage of the people. And Mark tells us that the scribes and Pharisees and high priests came and asked Him, “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?”
Jesus avoided a direct answer to that question by asking them a question concerning John the Baptist’s authority. But He gave an illustration in a parable of the vine growers, which describes a similar setting to that of a feudal system, in order to illustrate that Israel was the vineyard, and He was the owner of the vineyard’s Son whom they would plot to kill. So by illustration He claimed authority of Lord by virtue of the fact that He was the Son of God.
Now that infuriated them, so they conjure up three questions to try to entrap Him in something that He might say, so that they might put Him to death. When He brilliantly answered them all they are rendered speechless. They don’t know how to respond to His wisdom. So now, in response to their silence, Jesus asks them a question which speaks once again as to His authority which they had called into question.
And He does so by building upon the shouts of the multitude who hailed Him as the Son of David, which was understood to be referring to the Messiah. So in chapter 12 vs 35, Jesus poses the question, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?
David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET.”’ David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?”
Notice first of all that Jesus confirms the inspiration of scripture by saying that David spoke in the Holy Spirit this prophecy concerning the Messiah. Peter would later elaborate on that doctrine of the inspiration of the scriptures, saying in 2Peter 1:21 “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” It’s really amazing to notice how often Jesus, who was the Word made flesh, utilized the scripture in His ministry. He had no problem with it’s authority and inspiration and infallibility as the Word of God.
Now what was commonly understood by the Jews was that the Messiah would be of the lineage of David, and that He would restore the throne in Jerusalem and Israel would once again be a great nation, receiving the full blessings of God through the reign of the Messiah. They see this reign as a purely physical, temporal reign. The Sadducees, remember, didn’t believe in the resurrection so they were only concerned about the present. And they were also the party of the high priests. So they thought they would be the administrators of the kingdom under the Messiah.
So the multitudes had shouted the refrain that Jesus was the Son of David as they ushered Jesus into Jerusalem only three days earlier. And both the multitudes and the scribes and high priests understood this saying to be the concerning the fact that the Messiah would come from the line of David and restore the throne and restore the dominance of Israel as a nation.
But in Jesus’s answer, He seems to be bringing that doctrine into question saying, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?” It is clear that Jesus is speaking of Himself as the Christ. They wanted to show that He could not be the Messiah, but He is taking the approach that the children in the streets calling out “Hosanna to the Son of David” were speaking of Him appropriately. By the way, Messiah is the Hebrew word translated into the Greek as Christ. So Jesus in a roundabout way is confirming what the multitudes have said about Him, but He brings into question this idea that the Messiah is the son of David. He wants to show that the Messiah is more than just the son of David.
And He does so by quoting from Psalm 110. Now in the our Bibles it is presented as Jesus quoting from the Greek Septuagint translation. That was the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was in use at that time. But in the original Hebrew language, there is more distinction in the Psalm. And that distinction comes in the usage of the word Lord. In the Hebrew text, the name Jehovah, or Yahweh, was considered so sacred by the scribes as the personal name of God that it could not be spoken, or even written. So in order to accommodate that idea, they used a tetragrammaton to signify the word Jehovah, which was the word LORD, which was substituted for Jehovah.
There is another word for Lord in the Old Testament, and that is the word Adonai. Both words, Yahweh and Adonai were names denoting God. The first being His personal name and the other being His title. In the New Testament, the word for Lord is the Greek word kyrious. And in our Bibles which are translated from the Greek, to show the difference between Adonai, and Jehovah, Adonai is presented as Lord, and Jehovah is presented in all caps, as LORD.
Jesus is quoting from the Septuagint translation, which is the Greek translation then in use. But in Hebrew it would read as, “Jehovah said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet.”
The point that Jesus is making is that though the Messiah was to be a son of David, David by inspiration of God calls the Messiah his Lord. So the question Jesus asks is how can David call the Messiah his Lord if He is his son? The answer of course is that the Messiah was not only the Son of Man, but the Son of God. This is known in theological terms as the hypostatic union of Christ. He was fully God and fully man. He was born of the Spirit and born of a virgin. He was of the lineage of David and yet He is the Son of God.
What the Lord Jesus wants to illustrate to these unbelieving religious leaders is that the authority He has to cleanse the temple is because it is His Father’s house. The authority that He has to heal or forgive sins, or to teach the truth concerning the kingdom of God, is because He is the Son of God. He is One with God, and so His authority is from God. Therefore, the son of David is not only Messiah, but He is Lord God.
Now we can only imagine how infuriated this made the scribes and high priests. But Mark records the crowd as enjoying listening to Him. I doubt most of them understood all that He was saying, but they understood it to be a rebuke of the religious leaders and so they enjoyed seeing them corrected to some extent. But notice that Mark uses the same turn of phrase to describe their enjoyment as he used in the passage where he said Herod used to enjoy listening to John the Baptist. Yet Herod eventually put John to death, and in a few days some of this very crowd would call for the death of Christ as well. So the fact that the crowd enjoyed listening to Him does not equate to them believing in Him unto salvation.
Now there is an important connection to an earlier passage that we must make sure we see here. In vs 28, a lawyer had asked Jesus what was the foremost commandment. And Jesus answered with the Shema, “HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 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.” What the Lord is now saying is, “The Lord our God is one Lord: And you shall worship the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and I am not only David’s son, I am David’s Lord.” The Lord that we are to worship with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our Sovereign, He is our Master, the owner and provider of every good thing. He is the Creator. John says in the first chapter of his gospel that nothing was made without Him that was made. He is God incarnate, God in the flesh. The Word that was in the beginning with God, who made all that was made, who became flesh and dwelt among us.
Isaiah in the Old Testament should have informed the Jews that the Messiah would be much more than just human royalty. Speaking clearly of the Messiah, Isaiah 9:6 says, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” Isaiah makes it clear that Messiah is the son of David, and will sit on the throne of His eternal Kingdom, and that He is the Lord God.
So the church is to be the Lord’s vineyard, and we are to be His servants. Salvation comes not only in faith in Jesus as a person, but in confessing Jesus as Lord. Romans 10:9-10 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus [as] Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” As our Sovereign Savior and Lord, we bow to Him and yield to Him our lives in service for the glory of God and for His kingdom. Jesus’ identity is the central issue of spiritual life. What is Jesus to you? Is he Lord? The whole issue of how to enter the kingdom and how to live in the kingdom of God hangs at that point: Is Jesus your Lord?
Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Is He the one who governs your life? His lordship is the key to our life in Christ. That is why all through Paul’s epistles you find many practical exhortations which are linked always with “as unto the Lord”: “Wives, be subject unto your husbands as unto the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:22). “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church,” (Ephesians 5:25). “Children obey your parents in the Lord,” (Ephesians 6:1). “Stop stealing for the Lord’s sake,” (Ephesians 4:28). “Masters be kind to your employees for the Lord’s sake,” (Ephesians 6:5-9). In every aspect of life Jesus Christ must be Lord of your life.
Mark concludes this account with an illustration that indicates how Jesus’ lordship will manifest itself. The true expression of a heart submitted to the lordship of Jesus is demonstrated by a contrast between the pious, proud, religious scribes and a humble, poor, and godly widow. The scribes loved to be seen and admired for their positions and their adherence to certain rituals and ceremonies which they thought made them appear holy and righteous. The widow, on the other hand, presents a picture of someone who loves the Lord with all their heart. And as we know from the life of David, God judges the hearts, not by outward appearances.
Let’s first consider these scribes. Jesus lists six things that show their hearts are evil. First He says beware of the scribes because they like to walk around in long robes. You want to put that into a contemporary context, beware of religious leaders who like to dress up in some religious outfit that they think gives them some sort of pious look. I would add to that, beware of pointy hats.
Next, He says beware of those who love respectful greetings in the market places. They love the fawning attention that their positions render them and the titles and so forth that people use when addressing them. To tell you the truth, I don’t really enjoy being called “pastor.” I understand that people are trying to show respect, but I would just as soon be called Roy. Paul was called simply Paul, and that’s good enough for me.
Third, He says beware of those who like the chief seats in the synagogue. That was the seats up on the podium facing the congregation. They were the chief seats. That sort of thing was also done with the parishioners in the early churches in the middle ages and even afterwards. The rich gave money to patronize the priest and the church and so they would have the side benches up front with their names inscribed upon them. And so the order of the congregation would follow suit with the wealthiest up front and the poorer people in the rear.
Fourth, they love the place of honor at banquets. It’s more of the same, using their positions to an advantage, their religion to garner respect and public admiration. We see religious celebrities cashing in today through the sale of books and television specials and so forth. They are masters at self promotion.
Fifth, Jesus says they devour widow’s houses. They took advantage of poor widows by robbing whatever resources may have been left to their estate. This is the most egregious of all their abuses as far as I’m concerned. And this is what I see as the sin of a lot of television preachers today. Paul speaks of those wolves in sheep’s clothing in 2Tim. 3:6 “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses.” I see that speaking of these false teachers on TV as entering into widow’s houses and leading them astray and taking advantage of them, devouring their financial resources as well as devouring them spiritually.
And then number six, Jesus says beware of those who pray long prayers. He says that they do not pray to be heard of God, but they do so for appearance sake. They love to be seen as pious, as knowledgeable. So they pray to be heard of men in offering long, laborious prayers. Beware of praying to be heard of men. God doesn’t answer those prayers, and furthermore, He is opposed to them.
So what is the synopsis of those religious hypocrites? They love to perform their religious ceremonies to be seen of men and to win their approval. They superficially give praise to the Lord, they superficially love the Lord. But the Lord sees their hearts and consequently does not regard their service as acceptable. They have their reward here on earth. People call them holy, righteous and look up to them, and approve of them. And so they have their reward on earth. But they have not earned any reward in the Kingdom of God.
Note now the contrast in the last 3 verses as we see Jesus recognize the heart of the widow. Jesus was seated near the treasury in the temple. And what they did was they had 13 trumpet shaped repositories made which hung on the walls of the temple court. And the people would file into this area to give their offerings to the Lord. Mark says that the rich people were dropping large amounts into the coffers. I read somewhere that the way these were constructed, and the type of coins that were being given as a offering, meant that there was a corresponding loud clatter when a large amount of coins were dropped in. To make it even more ostentatious, Jesus said elsewhere that some even had actual trumpet players announce their coming into the temple to make an offering to make sure everyone noticed them giving.
But irregardless, when a rich person came in the temple to give, it probably sounded a lot like hitting triple sevens on the one armed bandit in the casino. Not that I speak from experience, mind you. A cascading sound of coins flowing into the trumpet shaped urn which would resonate throughout the temple and draw approving glances from the people in attendance.
Then Mark says that a poor widow came in and dropped two small coins into the treasury, which amounted to a cent. Now there is a lot of commentary on exactly how much she gave, but the best sources I can find say that what she gave was probably equivalent to about a dollar in today’s currency. And it was in the form of two small, thin coins. To drop such slight coins in the trumpet vase would have barely made a discernible noise.
But though her offering made little noise and drew no attention of the crowd, yet it made a great impact on Jesus. He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
Here again we see revealed the divine nature of Christ, in knowing not only what she put in the offering, but also in knowing what she had left to live on. But there is another lesson here that must be seen. And it is not a lesson on tithing. I try to avoid talking about tithing or giving offerings as much as possible. Paul said giving must be not out of compulsion, that God loves a cheerful giver. I know a lot of preachers have used this text to preach about money. I’m not going to do that. You are smart people, you can read into that if you want yourselves.
But what I believe the real point of this is, is that this widow gave the Lord everything. She didn’t hold anything back for herself. There were two coins, she could have said I will give the Lord one and I will use the other for myself. But instead, she gave everything to the Lord. This woman revealed that she loved the Lord with all her heart, with all her soul, and with all her strength. She didn’t hold anything back. She recognized that all that she had was the Lord’s, and so she gave all that she had to the Lord. She fulfilled the foremost commandment.
And I think that is the point of this whole passage. If you believe in Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, then you must believe that He also is Lord. And if He is Lord, then He demands your life, your heart, your all. He isn’t interested in pretentious, pretend Christianity that parades it’s virtues to be seen of men. But He demands all your life. That is how we are saved, ladies and gentlemen. We surrender all. He is Lord of all. He is worthy of all that we have and all that we can give. We can never repay all that He has done. But the least we can do is give Him our complete devotion and worship Him as Lord.