TODAY’S READING: Matthew 22; Mark 12
Galilee in Jesus’ day was an agriculturally fertile area with a combination of small farms and large private estates. Landowners had huge plantations and hired seasonal workers. Absentee owners were not unusual and common concern centered on sufficient water for the area and enough housing for the migrant workers. Further, the trade route from Damascus to the Mediterranean skirted the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, putting Galilee with its agriculture-rich estates and migrant workers along a major international trade route. Jesus will draw on these factors at one time or another in His parables.
The parables of Matthew 22 and Mark 12 draw on the context of first century Galilee to show how the people of the King of kings continually insulted Him, abused His messengers, and despised His generosity. Jesus warned His own that the consequences for them was furious destruction and that He was intent on an inclusive calling of those from around the world, from the highways and hedges of the nations (Matt. 22:7, 9). The Jews saw themselves as the untouchable, irreplaceable caretakers of the plans of God, and Jesus shockingly disabused them of that arrogant assumption. He reminds us all that His mission never centers on us and His mission always centers on Jesus (Mark 12:9) and the “others” who will honor the King (v.9).
Jesus goes on to point out two critical flaws that undermine His passions in the earth and lead us to being greatly mistaken: We are greatly mistaken when we don’t understand the Scriptures nor the power of God (Matt. 22:29), nor that Jesus is God of the living (Mark 12:27). Seeking to trap Jesus the Sadducees (legal religious authorities) who didn’t believe in resurrection made up a ridiculous scenario they think will shame Him. Jesus replied that what was really shameful was to think God was focused on the dead and dying when He is the God of the living, ever pressing forward to an eternity where all nations enjoy Him forever. This is why Jesus again cited that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—because God promised the patriarchs that from Abraham’s seed all nations will come into the Kingdom.
Both Matthew (22:44) and Mark (12:36) recorded that Jesus made Himself greater than David; both claims came on the heels of Jesus establishing that the great commandment is to love God and love others. If we understand the Scriptures and the power of God and if we understand that God is the God of the living, this is earthshaking. In context and rapid succession Jesus established His deity, His right to rule, His intention to include all nations in His Kingdom, and His declaration that the greatest obedience is to love Him and to love our neighbors. At once Jesus pulled all things together into His eternal self, encapsulating all Scripture into the simple commission to love Him by loving all peoples of the earth.
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 1202.