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Mark  ◦   Chapter 12

1Then he began teaching them in parables: "A developer planted a vineyard. He built a watchtower and constructed a winepress, and then he leased the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a trip.2When the harvest was due, he sent a servant to collect his portion of the fruit.3But they attacked and beat the servant and sent him away with nothing.4The owner sent another servant, but they hit him on the head and abused him.5The owner sent another servant, but they killed that one. He sent many more: some were beaten, some killed.6The only person left to send was his son whom he loved very much. He sent him last, saying, 'They will recognize and honor my son.'7But when the farmers saw the son, they greedily said to each other, 'This is the heir to this property. Let's kill him and claim the inheritance for ourselves!'8So they grabbed the son, killed him, and tossed his body out of the vineyard.

9Jesus asked, "Now, what do you think the owner will do to these farmers when he comes to his vineyard?"

10Jesus, looking straight at them, said: "Haven't you read in the Scriptures where it says: 'The stone rejected by those in charge of building has become the foundation stone.11God has made sure it would be this way and it is incredible to us'? "

12They searched for any pretext upon which they could arrest him, because they knew this parable was about them. But they feared the crowd, so they let him be and went away.

13Sometime later, some of the theologians from the school of the Pharisees and politicians from Herod's party were sent to Jesus to try to entrap him in his words.14Pretending to be deferential, they said, "Teacher, we know you are wise and always do what is right, constantly teaching the truth in harmony with God's methods and principles. You don't let the opinions of others influence you, because you stand for truth and not what's popular at the moment. So please tell us: In your judgment, is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?15Should we pay the tax or not?" But Jesus wasn't fooled. He knew the evil in their hearts and that they plotted against him; so he asked, "Why are you trying to trap me? Bring me a coin used to pay taxes."16So they brought him a Roman coin, and he asked them, "Whose picture is on this coin? And whose name is inscribed on it?"

17"Caesar's," they said. Jesus looked straight at them and said, "Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God." And everyone was amazed by his answer.

18Next, the theology professors from the school of the Sadducees — those who teach there is no resurrection — came to question Jesus.19They asked: "Wise Teacher, Moses instructed us that if a man dies without having children, then his brother is to marry the widow and have children for him.20Well, we recently had a situation involving seven brothers: The oldest married and died without having children.21The second brother married the widow, but also died without having children, and so did the third brother.22In fact, all seven married her and died without children, and then she died, too.23Can you tell us, when the dead awaken to live again, whose wife will she be since she was married to all seven?"

24Jesus answered without hesitation, "Your entire question is flawed because you neither understand what Scripture teaches nor God's power and methods.25When those who sleep in the grave arise to life, it will be into God's heavenly kingdom, and they will be like the angels in heaven, who neither marry nor are given in marriage.26And now, about your speculation regarding the resurrection of the dead: Don't you read the Bible? What did God say to Moses at the bush? He said, 'I am – not I was — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'27He is not the God of the dead–those who no longer exist–but the God of the living. You are completely wrong!"

28One of the professors of theology, who focused on the law, heard them debating. Impressed with Jesus' answer, he asked him, "Which of all God's commandments is the most important?"

29Jesus answered, "The most important is this: 'Understand, O Israel: The Lord our God is One Lord.30Love the Lord your God with your entire being — heart, soul, mind, and strength.'31And the second is this: 'Love others as yourself.' There is no commandment superior to these."

32The professor smiled and said, "Well said, teacher. Well said, indeed. You are absolutely right that God is One; and there is no other God but him,33and to love him with all one's heart, mind, and strength, and others as self, is more important than all the rituals, ceremonies, sacraments, and offerings combined."

34When Jesus heard how wisely the man answered, he said to him, "You are very close to God's kingdom of love." And from that point on, no one dared to attempt to trap him with more questions.

35Later, when Jesus was teaching in temple grounds, he asked those gathered there, "Why do the theology professors — those who teach a legal religion — say that the Messiah is the son of David?36Yet David himself, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declared: "'The Lord has said to my Lord: Sit beside me, at my right hand, until I subdue your enemies beneath your feet.'

37"So, if David himself calls the Messiah 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" The large crowd was thrilled with the truth they heard from Jesus.

38As Jesus taught, he warned them: "Be careful of following the theologians who teach legal theologies. They act for effect, seeking to garner attention, admiration, and respect. They wear distinctive clothing, seeking recognition in the shopping districts.39They desire their opinions to be most revered in church, and seek the places of honor at social events.40They play on people's fears, conning widows and the vulnerable out of their homes, yet make public displays of praying long prayers. Such persons will suffer most severely."

41Jesus sat down across from the offering chest and watched the people as they put their money into the church coffers. Many of the rich made quite a display as they noisily threw in large amounts.42But one poor widow quietly slipped in two very small coins, worth less than a penny.

43Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "Truly, this poor widow gave more than anyone else.44They gave a portion of their savings; but she, out of her poverty, gave everything she had — every cent she had left to live on."