2nd August 2023
Read - Mark 12:38-40
Message Alan Burke
Here Jesus even though the teachers of the law were desiring to kill him choose to teach against them, it’s like the preverbal red rag to the bull. Jesus warns people about them and the first thing that he mentions is that they like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces. Theses fellas, well the’d have never been caught on their odd day off wearing jeans and a t-shirt cutting the lawn, nah, these guys were dressed to set them apart, they wanted people to know who they were and they wanted the respect that came with it, they didn’t need to dress that way all the time but they choose to, they were making a public statement of who they were.
The teachers of dressed to impress, in their flowing robes, they would have been addressed by all and sundry for it was the social convention at the time. What is curious about what Jesus says in this warning is where the teachers of the law like to walk around, where they like to be greeted. We are told it was in the marketplace, not in the temple, or the temple courts or complex, no in the marketplace, why the marketplace? Well as the teachers of the law in their flowing robes walked around the market, you would have seen almost like a Mexican wave of people standing for the teachers of the law as they walked past, all being addressed by their title, people showing respect, and no matter it you liked doing it or not, no matter if you agreed with the teachers of the law or not, you would stand because to do anything else would have marked you out. You get the picture, well these these guys who were set apart by their position, they dressed to impress to make sure no one forgot about who they were. Their position also allowed certain perks, they got the seat of honour at the banquet, special seats in the synagogue (v39).
In addition the teachers of the law had certain responsibilities and added functions if you will, like I get to sign photos for drivers licences for fun to say that you are who you are, or gun licences etc. The teachers of the law likewise had responsibilities and functions, one of which is that they were to serve as consultants for widows, to give them advice, so they played a part of society that was important. While some were genuine, there were others who were not. Jesus concludes by saying they devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.
The thing is that these teachers of the law were in a position of authority and influence, they were in a place of trust but many of them used their position to intentionally pray on individuals who were vulnerable, widows were especially vulnerable in the ancient near east. They were using their position to take advantage of others, here the teachers of the law were devouring widows houses because they were taking all that they could, they would take money from widows, all that they could, they would make promises to them that they couldn’t keep. the teachers or the law were because of their a position were given respect, trust, but there were many of them who used their position to take what they could, they lined their own pockets from individuals. These teachers of the law would but judged severely.
As we close I want to draw a couple of things out. Firstly; The thing is that none of us live up to what God requires of us, we all fall short, we miss the mark we do what we should not do in many ways, but these teachers of the law were out and out hypocrites, there are times that we may feel like hypocrites when we fail but we are not hypocrites for trying, for desiring to live as God requires, we are only hypocrites when we are putting on an appearance of something we are not. The reality matters, if you find yourself living in a way that is contrary to what God requires repent of it and you will have forgiveness. Finally prayer, these guys made it a show but prayer doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact its not but we make it complicated. If you are struggling to pray use the psalms, talk to God, he hears the prayers of his children through Christ Jesus. Pray simply, adore him (A), say sorry for your sin confess it (C), give him thanks for the salvation and the everyday blessings (T) and bring your prayers for others your supplication (S), it doesn’t have to be complicated but we make it that way. We use ACTS in these devotions for a reason, begin with Adoration and Confession, then move to Thanksgiving and Supplication, it doesn’t have to be an essay just a few words will do.
Q7 What are the decrees of God?
The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. (Eph. 1:4,11, Rom. 9:22–23)