Mark 12:35–40 ESV
And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”’
David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.
And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
I recently sat at one of those long tables found in some Starbucks coffee shops, one of those kind where different people come and go. Some sit at the table and mind their own business. Others come with a friend or two and sit across from each other and visit. Still others will strike up a conversation with complete strangers who are also sitting at the table. It’s a curious social convention.
On my recent visit, two men came and took seats across from each other just down the table from me. They were close enough where I could listen in without much difficulty. It became obvious that one of the men was mentoring the other in the Christian faith. They both had their Bibles opened on the table. The discussion quickly turned to monologue as the older man proceeded to “teach” the younger man for an almost thirty-minute stretch. He talked at him. I observed as the younger man tried to interject with his questions to no avail. It proved to be a discipleship adventure in missing the point.
One of the things I appreciate about today’s text has to do with just this point. Jesus was in a teaching mode in the temple. Around him were a number of people who recognized his authority. Jesus, of course, was an expert regarding the texts he was teaching on. He knew precisely what they meant. However, two small words stand out in the text, which show both his respect for people and the humility of his discipleship craft. See if you can pick out the two words.
And as Jesus taught in the temple, he [asked], “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?”
Did you spot them? The two words are, “he [asked].” Did he ask because he didn’t know? Of course not. I think he asked because it was a challenging conundrum. Put in my own context it would be like asking how my own son could be my God. Often when I know the answer to a difficult question I like to demonstrate my expertise in preemptively answering. I prefer the ease of what I call the download method. It’s what that man next to me at Starbucks was doing. He downloaded a ton of biblical content on his mentee. The download method tends to be an informational approach.
The process of making disciples of Jesus Christ requires a conversational ethic rather than an informational approach. We communicate with others rather than talking to them or worse, at them. It’s never occurred to me, but at the core of the word “communicate” is the word “commune.” When we commune with another person, it’s about a lot more than passing on information. It implies a rich dimension of sharing in a context of humble fellowship. It’s a participation in mutual exploration. It’s got me thinking. I don’t want to be “The Bible Answer Guy” even if I have some answers. I want to learn to ask good questions.
In my experience, the people who understand the Bible the best aren’t necessarily those who have acquired the most information about it. They are the people who have learned to ask the best questions.
I know today’s text likely didn’t intend to make the point I’m making. Admittedly, it’s a tangential observation. The text is all about Jesus trying to help his followers understand that his agenda could not be framed from a mere human-oriented approach to national sovereignty (i.e., restoring the Davidic throne). Jesus was not bringing a geopolitical solution, but an eternal kingdom. You just can’t download that on people. It has to be revealed to them. Asking questions causes people to lean into a conversation rather than away. It opens them up to receive revelation.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
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