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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Mark 12:28-44

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 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.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?36 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.”’

37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

38 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lesson 17 (link above). Who were the three groups of people Jesus addressed in verses 1-27? Who is the “they” in verse 28? The “he/him”? How does the first half of verse 28 indicate that this event (28-34) took place immediately after Jesus’ discussion with the Sadducces (18-27)?

2. Examine verses 28-34. What kind of person is Jesus addressing in this section? (28) Why did the scribe ask Jesus his question? (28) Considering his reason (28), Jesus’ evaluation of him (34), and the general tenor of the conversation, do you think this scribe was trying to trap Jesus as Jewish leaders in 1-27 were trying to do, or do you think this was a genuine question by someone truly trying to follow God?

3. Why would a Jewish leader need to ask what the most important commandment was? (28) Where does Jesus point the scribe for the answer to his question? What does Jesus say is the greatest commandment? (29-30) This commandment deals with the relationship between man and Whom? What does Jesus say is the second greatest commandment? (31) This commandment deals with the relationship between man and whom? Can you think of another place in Old Testament law that deals with these two relationships? (Hint: Review question 8 from lesson 14 (link above).) Which relationship always comes first? If we obey the greatest commandment, what impact will that have on our obedience to the second greatest commandment?

4. Explain the scribe’s response to Jesus (32-33) in your own words. What did Jesus mean when He said the scribe was “not far from the kingdom of God”? Why didn’t Jesus say the scribe was in the kingdom of God? What was the scribe lacking? Were Jesus and the scribe discussing Old Testament law or New Testament gospel? Are we saved by obeying Old Testament law or repenting and believing the gospel? How does the gospel fit with the laws Jesus and the scribe were discussing? Is it possible to truly love the Lord or others if the gospel hasn’t first changed your heart?

5. Compare verses 35-37 to Psalm 110 (Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1 in verse 36) and Acts 2:29-36. Who is “The Lord” in verse 36? Who is “my Lord”? David was regarded by the Jews as the greatest king in Israel’s history. Would it make any sense for David to call a merely human descendant of his (a “son of David”) “my Lord”- a higher rank than his own? What would have to be true of the spiritual nature of this descendant of David’s that David calls Him “my Lord”? What does God say to the Messiah in verse 36? Could a mere human be qualified to sit at God’s right hand and have his enemies put under his feet? What is Jesus trying to convey about His deity to those who didn’t believe He was God and to those who expected the Messiah to be only a great human king like David?

6. In what location (35) did Jesus teach verses 38-40? Was this a public place? To whom (37) was Jesus speaking? What were some of the things the scribes were guilty of? Why will the scribes receive greater condemnation? Greater than whom? How does this passage demonstrate that it is biblically permissible and appropriate to publicly warn God’s people against false teachers and false doctrine?

7. Compare Jesus’ description of the scribes in 39-40 with His description of the widow in 41-44. What was Jesus trying to teach the disciples (43) by contrasting the two? How does this reinforce what Jesus taught the disciples in Mark 10:42-45?

8. As an Old Testament Jew the widow was under the law of the tithe, but how much did she choose to give? (43-44) Christians are not required by Scripture to tithe, but we are instructed to be generous givers. How does the widow set an example for us of New Testament, sacrificial giving?

9. Prosperity gospel preachers often urge people to give sacrificially to their ministries and promise that God will repay their generosity with wealth. Do verses 41-44 support this idea? Did Jesus walk over to the woman and miraculously make her wealthy on the spot? Does God promise anywhere in Scripture to reward Christians with wealth for their sacrificial giving?


In lesson 17, we saw several people who were merely trying to be argumentative or to trap Jesus by asking Him questions about the Bible. Today, we saw what seemed to be a genuine question by a scribe seeking to learn. Have you ever been asked either, or both, of these types of questions? What was the question, and how did you respond? Compare your response to 2 Timothy 2:24-26. Were you quarrelsome? Kind? Patient? Write down three ways you could respond better in the future according to this passage.

Suggested Memory Verse

And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. Mark 12:33