#DailyDevotion Not Our Culture’s Jesus
Mark 12:38 In his teaching [Jesus] said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Today’s generation would be quick to tell Jesus, “Way to generalize Jesus. Haven’t you heard? Don’t judge.” Seriously, this isn’t the Jesus of our age. People wouldn’t even recognize Jesus including a whole swath of people who call themselves Christians because they never actually open up a Bible to read it and their pastors skip over parts like this.
The scribes were the arbiters of what the bible meant. They judged cases between people in conflict and applied the law as given in the Torah but also, much like English common law, the precedents or traditions handed down from their fathers. Often these traditions were in direct conflict with what God’s Word was actually teaching.
Apparently, as a class of people, Jesus didn’t have a whole lot to commend them to others. They must have resisted the Word of God which they themselves taught. For instead of being humbled by the Law, recognizing their own weaknesses, and having mercy on those around them they were proud people who wanted recognition. What they wore said, “Look at me! I’m important.” They carried themselves proudly. The scribes sought to be greeted by those around them. They wanted the best seats in the synagogue (I wonder if today they would be fighting for the rear pews?). I’m really not sure how they devoured widows’ houses. I would guess they would use the law and the traditions to steal it from them. We don’t know if they enriched their own bank accounts or were doing it on behalf the synagogues but we can tell from Jesus’ words here that it just wasn’t kosher. To make up for their wrongdoing they covered it up with long prayers.
No doubt, there are people and pastors in the Christian church who would receive the greater condemnation today as well. They have no mercy on those who are broken, those who broke themselves and those broken by others. They are puffed up and want others to recognize them. They even seek the wealth of others at the expense of what their flocks and those who contribute to them really need for everyday life. They only want to fatten their own bank accounts or just to be proud of having a congregation with large reserves.
But the teaching of Jesus is to honor others more than oneself. We are called to treat others as we ourselves want to be treated. Jesus teaches us to humble ourselves before others that at the proper time he might exalt us. He calls us to have mercy on those who are broken. For Jesus humbled himself to become man and as man die on the cross. Jesus came to have mercy on the broken. He came to make us rich in the kingdom of God. He did this not only as example but because you yourself needed it. He calls those who believe this to do it themselves for others.
Heavenly Father, grant us faith and your Holy Spirit, that we may humble ourselves and look to the need of others before ourselves like your Son Jesus Christ did for us and forgive us our lack of humility and mercy when we forget what Christ Jesus has done for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.