Today's verse is Mark 12:12: "And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away." Jesus had just told the story of the landowner who leased his land to tenants. When the time came for him to collect his dues, he sent a servant to do so. The tenants beat him and sent him back without anything. Then the owner sent more servants, but they did the same thing, even killing some of them. Finally, the owner sent his beloved son to them. Yet he too was rejected, beaten and killed.
After hearing the story, the religious leaders knew the story was spoken against them. They knew they were the tenants in the story. They were now even more determined than ever to kill Jesus. So they departed from his presence. In private, they plotted a way to have Jesus killed.
Yet they had to do it wisely, for Jesus was extremely popular with the masses. Somehow, they had to turn the masses against him. Somehow, with great secrecy, they had to come up with a plan to kill Jesus. They were, in fact, fulfilling the parable Jesus had just spoken.
The religious leaders were living evidence of Jeremiah 17:9: the human heart is wicked and deceitful above all else. It looks out for self. It is jealous about popularity and power. It wants all competition to fail. It is impatient. It is often unkind. It is easily irritated. It can be rude. It wants to be exalted above others. It is puffed up with pride and struggles with humility. It is easily offended and desires revenge. It often operates in secret to hatch its plans. It hates to be embarrassed or put down. It lies to us about our self-importance. It spins truth for its own selfish purposes. It wants power and control.
The human heart cannot be coddled. You don't "put up" with its wicked desires. It can only be crucified and replaced with a new heart.
That is what Jesus offers us all. He enters our lives and when he does our selfish hearts die. He gives us a heart transplant, one filled with love, joy, peace, patience and kindness. This new heart has as its highest priority the exaltation of Jesus, the one who gave us this new life. It lives for others, not self. The old has passed away, the new has come.
But this new heart can only be given when you are tired, fed up with and disgusted with the old heart. It only is given when you want the heart of the religious officials who killed Jesus totally gone from your life.
Do a heart examination today. Is your heart like the religious officials? Or is it the heart of Jesus?
The first gives death. Jesus' heart gives life and gives it to us abundantly.