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October 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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Easter Day Three: Debates and Discourses
By Danny Saavedra
“And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.”—Mark 12:34 (NIV)
Almost immediately after His triumphal entry, the tenor of Jesus’ interactions begins to shift to debates, challenges, traps, and entanglements. We see the effort to discredit Jesus begin to ramp up after the incident in the temple. In the aftermath of that, Mark 11:18 (NIV) tells us, “The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him.”
Now, the next day, they arrive at the temple, and as He interacts and shares truth with others, “the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him” (Mark 11:27 NIV), and proceed to question His authority and seek to trip Him up with questions about paying taxes, the resurrection, and the greatest commandment. But at every turn, Jesus takes them to task!
He met each challenge and question with authority, wisdom, powerful lessons, warnings, and truths that flipped their understanding of God, His kingdom, and our lives upside down. And each time, the true colors of these men was made evident to anyone with ears to hear—though Mark does tell us that many of the Pharisees were amazed by Jesus’ teachings and it’s likely several believed in Him.
Eventually, the religious leaders realize they’re severely outmatched and risk the people turning on them, so “from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Matthew 22:46 NIV). Instead, they turned their attention to more sinister means of trying to quell this movement: “Then the chief priests and the elders . . . schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him” (Matthew 26:3–4 NIV).
So, what made Jesus such a threat? Why were politicians (Pharisees and Herodians), priests, aristocrats (Sadducees), lawyers, and scribes all at odds with Jesus’ teachings? The same thing that causes people to reject Jesus today! You see, so much of Jesus’ teachings—and the gospel itself—takes what we think, perceive, understand, and experience in this world and flips it on its head.
Jesus teaches the least will be the greatest in the kingdom of God, the greatest among us serves others, the widow’s mite is a greater offering to God than vast riches, the meek will inherit the earth, the greatest sacrifice made to God is mercy, the way to the kingdom is not by perfection, but through repentance and receiving the grace of God through faith. His message to us causes us to recoil because IT’S NOT ABOUT US!
Our lives are not about us, our purpose is not about us, this world is not about us . . . it’s all about Jesus! We can’t pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and earn salvation, we can’t gain God’s favor by our actions, we can’t muster up faith within ourselves, we can’t find ourselves by looking within, we can’t manifest our best life, and we can’t live our truth and find peace in it. We were made to exalt God and enjoy Him. We were made by Him and for Him, in His image and by His love. We exist to bring glory to God and live in relationship with Him. And we, sinners, stand separated from Him. We can’t save ourselves—we need rescue and redemption that only He can give. All of this stands in opposition to our sinful nature, removes us from being the master of our destiny, and causes us to face our own sinfulness and helplessness apart from Him.
So today, I encourage you to examine your life and ask yourself, “Who is at the center of my life?” Is it you or is it Jesus? If it’s Jesus, the things you say, think, and do will line up with His teachings and the entirety of the message of Scripture. Your life will resemble and reflect His. If it’s you, your life will look more like everyone else’s. It will prioritize and be defined by the things the world deems important and will either defy or seek to justify or twist Scriptural truth to fit into your lifestyle. Regardless of where you land, pray that each day you could look less like the world and more like Jesus as you surrender your life, heart, will, and everything else to Him!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.