31st July 2023
Read - Mark 12:38-40
Message Alan Burke
In a sense todays passage belongs to what we were focusing on last week with Jesus in the temple courts and asking the question “How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David?” (35) yet at the same time it is connected to what comes immediately after and it also stands on its own. These three verses as Jesus warns about the teachers of the law are a warning about ‘Appearance vs Reality’. Appearances can be deceptive, appearances do not show the reality. Now what makes this teaching of Jesus just so shocking is what we already know, how back in 11:18 the teachers of the law were looking for a way to kill Jesus and rather than keeping the head down he now blatantly attacks the very character of teachers of the law.
Look what he says, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” (Mk 12:38–40).
Again I’m going to make a point that I’ve made before that the idea many people have in their head of ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ of a Jesus who would never offend anyone or taught about hell or addressed sin is just wrong. There are many things that Jesus teaches and said things that we often gloss over, this is not how many imagine Jesus to be, you’d describe Jesus here in this passage as arrogant, unteachable, or if you want to use a good Ulster Scott’s words which I think I prefer, Jesus is being ‘Thran’. Why is Jesus being like this, why does he find it necessary when the teachers of the law are already desiring to kill him to choose to teach against them, it’s like the preverbal red rag to the bull.
Well I think that above all else it is because of just how egregious the behaviour of the teachers of the law was. For that is what we are about to learn, as Jesus addresses those who are there, he deals with the behaviour of the teachers of the law. What I want us to see straight off is that Jesus wasn’t one for institutional coverups, he wasn’t interested in keeping the good name of the church or the peace and concord between its members while allowing things that were egregious to take place and not being dealt with.
No Jesus was wiling to address the sin of the teachers of the law, brining it out to the open, warning those who would hear for their protection and for the benefit of all, even for the benefit of the teachers of the law themselves. You know it is now use ignoring the issue, never dealing with the elephant in the room, it doesn’t help you or me when we ignore sin and when we fail to call it out for what it is. For Jesus while calling out the teachers of the law may have led to his own crucifixion it was all according to the plans and purposes of God, so that he might be glorified, rising from the dead and ascend to the right hand of the Father.
While on Wednesday we will get more into what Jesus says I want to leave you with the warning 6th Jesus gives at the end of v40 how Jesus concludes this warning about the teachers of the law at the end of v40, “Such men will be punished most severely.” James gives a similar warning for those who are teachers in the church that they can expect stricter judgment (James 3:1) because of the position that they hold, the trust that is put in them. These teachers of the law had status, they loved it and abused it. And for those who abuse their position in the church they need to be warned. All of us will stand before the Lord our God, there is nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known (Lk 12:2) all of us will stand before our Lord and he is judge of all but those who trust in him, who have repented and believed he is their saviour.
Q5 Are there more Gods than one?
There is but One only, the living and true God. (Deut. 6:4, Jer. 10:10)