In my Bible reading this morning, I read Mark 12. This is a chapter that, if you allow yourself to get caught up in the story, will elevate your blood pressure! If we had been Jesus’ disciples on this particular day, we would have watched these scenes play out with great anticipation … wondering how it would all end.
It began when Jesus told a parable in Mark 12:1-12. Folks loved stories and Jesus didn’t disappoint them. Yet, it seemed quite often that the moral of the stories typically came at the very end and it came like a sucker punch to the gut (of the Pharisees!). The story Jesus told on this occasion got the Pharisees so riled up that they wanted Him arrested and shut up.
Well, Jesus being the leader that He was didn’t cower when things got a little testy. His group of disciples needed to see that when times got tough, they needed to step up and stand for truth regardless of the consequences.
However, the tension would greatly escalate in this chapter. Why? Because Jesus’ enemies were trying to trip him up public. They would confront Jesus with a virtual “no-win scenario” and put Him in that hot seat when many people were watching.
In Mark 12:13-17, someone asked Him whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. As Jesus looked around, He may have seen fire in the eyes of the Jews who despised paying those taxes. He may have also seen the watchful eyes of Roman soldiers waiting to see if He was a revolutionary that needed to be arrested. Talk about tension! His answer was incredible!
In Mark 12:18-27, some folks who believed that this life was all that there is and did not believe in the afterlife posed a ridiculous scenario. Their scenario was so silly that is was laughable … but it posed a serious question that needed to be answered. Jesus may have seen folks watching Him in anticipation. Would He be able to give a reasonable answer that would satisfy and silence these men? He did!
In Mark 12:28-34, a man asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. This may not seem like a tough question but it may have been the one that created the most tension. The Roman soldiers weren’t interested in this matter. The silliness of the Sadducees was over. This question would have fascinated every Jew present. There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of laws. There were the laws that God gave in His Word and there were the laws that had been added through the years by the religious leaders. And, everyone present would have their own opinion regarding which law was the most important. No matter what Jesus said, His answer would split the crowd and He would have some that would heartily disagree with Him … or so they thought. Jesus answered beautifully and everyone was amazed!
Wouldn’t it be nice if in leadership situations (parenting, pastoring, leading a company, teaching a classroom of students, positively influencing a friend, etc.) we could make all of our decisions in the comfortable confines of a safe place? Wouldn’t it be great if we could retreat to our office or bedroom or a quiet walk in the neighborhood to reflect on the options before making our decisions?
Well, that just isn’t going to happen much of the time. Being a leader will mean that there are times when you will have to think on your feet. You’ll need to have the presence of mind to reflect and weigh options when others are watching you and waiting for your response. You’ll need to have wisdom so that the decision you make is sound and right.
For the follower of Jesus, here are some ways that we can grow in our ability to handle these sorts of situations well:
* Spend much time in Bible study (not just reading; I said “study”).
* Spend much time in prayer (revealing your dependence upon God).
* Specifically pray for wisdom and believe that God will give it (James 1:5-8).
* Realize that your life experiences are what God is using to equip you (Romans 8:28-29).
* Always be in a state of trusting in the Lord; He will guide you (Luke 12:11-12).