Mark 12:38-40 Beware of the Scribes

In his epistle written around A.D. 66, John Mark began his letter by introducing John The Baptist, God’s messenger by describing how his role was to announce the coming of the Messiah, and baptize Him in the Jordan River so Jesus could fulfill all righteousness, and be identify with those He came to redeem.

After He was baptized, Christ was tested by Satan in the wilderness for forty days but the Messiah persevered and resisted temptation as He prepared for His ministry, which He started in Galilee while John The Baptist was imprisoned for rebuking Herod Antipas.

The Lord’s ministry began along the Sea of Galilee where He recruited His first four apostles, Simon, Andrew, James and John, who were all fishermen from Capernaum, a small fishing village located on the northern shore of the lake. This was the location where Jesus performed His first recorded miracle when He healed a possessed man, delivering him from a demon. Jesus followed His first miracle with another when He miraculously healed Simon’s mother in law who was gravely ill, then as word spread about these healings, the entire population of the city gathered outside the house door where Jesus answered the call to heal the sick.

Then, Jesus embarked on a missionary journey through the region which eventually lead him back to Capernaum where He furthered His ministry through preaching and healing the sick. But, when He healed a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees and Herodians began plotting to kill Him.

Before they could get to Him, Jesus chose His twelve apostles. The first was Simon, whom Jesus renamed Peter. Next came James, one of the “Sons of Thunder” who accepted the call to follow Jesus along with his brother John, Andrew, the dean of His apostolic corps Philip, the curious, Bartholomew, the honest one, then Matthew, the “money-getter” for the ministry, Thomas, the doubter as well as the twins, James and Thaddaeus Alphaeus, the group’s chief ushers, Simon, the Zealot and lastly, Judas, the traitor.

After they returned to Capernaum, Jesus and His apostles walked into a house where the Messiah confronted scribes who were out to get Him arrested, claiming He was possessed. But, Jesus rebuked them, then He continued to exhort them while He enlightened the others present, eventually warning those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, that their spiritual destiny involved suffering and agony, forever.

While He was teaching, Jesus’ mother and brothers came for Him claiming He was not of right mind, in hope this would dissuade the Scribes and stop the plot to arrest the Messiah. When He heard His family was outside the house, Jesus revealed His plan for His church, that all those who believe would become part of a family, a spiritual body.

Next, for the second time at Capernaum, Jesus resorted to the sea to further His ministry. This time, the Messiah leveraged the natural ability for water to carry sound, as He continued to teach the multitude using parables, starting with the parable of the sower, which He followed by a statement meant for those who reject Him, that parables could only be understood by seekers and believers alike.

Later, when He was alone with the twelve, Jesus continued to enlighten His apostles by revealing the mystery found in the parable of the sower, that, among those who hear the word of God, only a few will receive the word, believe and be saved from the wages of sin which is death and agony, forever.

Jesus followed His exhortation with the parable of the light under a basket, calling on His followers to spread His love throughout the world, then He carried on with more parables, including the parable of the mustard seed in which the divine Teacher compared the evolution of the kingdom of God to the greatest of miracles among its kind, that the smallest of all seeds would grow to be the largest plant of its kind.

Next, Jesus revealed how He used parables to enlighten seekers and believers alike, and the same parables to obscure the minds of those who deny the truth or reject His deity.

After this, Jesus performed a miracle as He rebuked the wind and the waves while He was crossing the sea of Galilee, onto Gersa, located directly across the Sea from Capernaum where the Lord miraculously healed a possessed man by casting out his demons.

Because they were afraid of Him, those at Gersa requested Jesus leave their Land, and upon His return to Capernaum, He performed two more miracles. The first happened when Jesus healed a woman who touched His garment, and also brought a prominent Jewish man’s child back to life.

However, when He came to Nazareth, the town where He grew up, Jesus was not well received by those who knew Him as a child or were acquainted with members of His family. The journey throughout Galilee continued until the day when Jesus called the twelve and sent them out two by two, giving each one power over unclean spirits.

When they returned from their first missionary journey, the apostles retreated to a remote place where they could rest and recharge. Since they were with Jesus, a multitude tagged along and when they arrived at their destination, the size of the crowd and timing for the gathering presented Jesus with a perfect opportunity to showcase His divine power as 10,000 people were fed and twelve baskets of food were left over after God multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish so all could eat.

Next, to reinforce their faith in Him, Jesus put His disciples in harm’s way when He sent them onto Bethsaida, a small fishing village located across the Sea of Galilee where He later rescued them as He walked on the water to the boat where He calmed the wind and water.

When they reached the shore, the wind had carried the boat to Gennesaret where a healing journey began during which many were given new life, both physically and spiritually, and news of this miraculous Healer prompted Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to send a group of men to further inquire about this man named “Yeshua.” It would not take long for Jesus to rebuke the Jewish spies, after which He continued His journey throughout the region, closely followed by Pharisees sent from Jerusalem who witnessed Jesus miraculously feed thousands once again, and heal those in need, spreading hope every where He went.

But, in spite of all the miracles He performed, Jesus’ frustration continued to grow as His disciples did not understand the warnings He shared in His parables. He would use another miracle to reinforce His message, and eventually they started to believe, but Jesus commanded they tell no one about who He was because He had to endure the path to the cross that would lead to His death, and resurrection.

However, His disciples did not respond well to this announcement, in which Jesus revealed the great sacrifice required of believers, that whoever values this life more than the next life will lose both, and suffer eternal consequences.

Then, Jesus took the apostles Peter, James, and John to a mountain top where He was transfigured before them, as both Elijah and Moses appeared and gave witness to the divinity of Yeshua, the begotten Son of God.

Soon after He was transfigured, Jesus healed a boy who had been possessed and tormented since birth by a demon after his father placed his trust and faith in the Savior. After the miraculous healing that took place at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus and his disciples traveled to Capernaum where the Lord rebuked His apostles by teaching them about the Kingdom of God, where those who seek to be first will be last while the meek who are driven to serve those in need will be blessed abundantly.

However, the Lord’s promise of blessings came with a warning when He called on each one of His disciples to arm ourselves, and be ready to pay such a sacrifice as He did so those who believe may have hope, and the gift of eternal life. Jesus also warned us about unrepented sin, that grave danger awaited those who sin and choose to deny Him in such a way that he or she knows they are transgressing the One who loves them, yet sin in spite of this.

Next, Jesus and His entourage traveled over 100 miles from Capernaum, located in the north at the edge of the Sea of Galilee, to Judea, in the south along the Dead Sea where a multitude once again gathered.

After He lovingly rebuked a wealthy ruler who sought to earn his way into the Kingdom of God, Jesus addressed earthly wealth and taught us about His divine plan, how those who are abundantly favored in this life will be humbled in Heaven, while the meek, those who sacrificed much in this life, the souls who are persecuted in His name, the innocent and the children will be rewarded and praised in Heaven, forever.

Next, Mark told us about the time when the Lord became aware of His own death as they approached Jerusalem, yet He did absolutely nothing to stop it. Instead, He prepared those around Him for the tragic end they were about to witness, focusing on the importance for believers to strive bring glory to God through selfless service as each disciple of Jesus relies on the fulfillment of the promise He made that on the third day, He would rise from the dead.

The journey to Jerusalem was coming to an end, and when they left Jericho, Jesus had the opportunity to once again perform a miracle, this time healing Bartimaeus, and by his faith in the Lord, the man was able to see. As the Lord and His entourage came closer to Jerusalem, Jesus sent two disciples ahead to fetch a colt on which Christ was planning His triumphant entry into the holy city.

Shortly after the men returned with the colt, Jesus started toward Jerusalem as many along the road threw their clothes ahead of the Lord, and even cut and laid palm branches on the road symbolizing salvation and joy. After He inspected the temple, Jesus returned to Bethany to avoid confrontation with Jewish leaders and also by this time, steer clear of Roman authorities who were after Him. But Jesus planned to return to the temple, and when He did, He manifested God’s anger with His people by turning the tables of money changers and the seat of dove merchants who illegally profited from the sale of sacrificial birds within the walls of a holy place. Jesus also took offense to people who used the temple as a shortcut rather than its intended purpose, the place where man could be with God.

Jesus then addressed forgiveness, teaching us a very simple concept by which anyone can be set free of bitterness and anger toward another, in spite of that person’s transgression against God or us, that forgiving others comes with strings attached and causes God to forgive us our trespasses against Him.

When the time came, Jesus returned to the temple court where He was approached and confronted by chief priests, scribes and elders. After He rebuked them, through the parable of the Wicked Vinedressers in which the Lord warned us of the penalty that awaits those Jews entrusted with a mission who gravely fail at bringing God the glory He deserves.

After the bested chief priests, scribes and elders retrieved from the temple court, the Sanhedrin sent forward Pharisees and Sadducees to trap Jesus. First, the Pharisees questioned Christ about taxes paid to Caesar, attempting to lure Jesus into blasphemy against Rome. But He reasoned with them divinely.

Next, the Sadducees tried to discredit Heaven by twisting scripture that addressed levirate marriages, and ignoring God’s revelation about our relationship and bond with Him in the most high place. Once again, Jesus answered His accusers with great wisdom when He revealed the truth about marriages in Heaven, that all those who inherit a place in God’s kingdom will seek a relationship with Him, rather than earthly spouses who are also rejoicing with the Lord in Heaven.

When the Sadducees had their turn and Jesus rebuked them, just as He did the chief priests, a scribe came forward and asked Jesus which of God’s commandments was most important. And again, the Lord’s response proved He was indeed a teacher after His father’s heart when He revealed the greatest commandment was to love and honor God, and to love our neighbors as we do ourselves.

“38 Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, 39 the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” (Mark 12:38-40)

In these few verses, Jesus exposed vipers within the Jewish community who preyed on the innocent. In those days, just like today, many religious leaders abuse their power and authority over their flock for personal profit, and to fulfill selfish ambitions and Jesus wanted to warn them of the judgment that awaited each one.

First, Jesus warned those present to beware of the scribes and to watch out for them. From their attire that bellowed notoriety to the way they behaved in public with a hint of superiority, scribes were known to seek out the best seats in any gathering and enjoy the finest food money could buy.

Jesus also revealed how scribes took advantage of widows by robbing them of their inheritance, as well as instilling fear by extending their prayer time beyond normality. It would be these souls who would be charged by God, and judged according to their deeds.

Do you find yourself doing the same as the scribes now and then? Simple actions like taking the best seat at the table, helping yourself to the biggest piece of cake or taking advantage of someone under your authority?

Remember that all of us are loved unconditionally, and that it is up to each one of us to either bring glory to our Lord, and please Him who created us, or anger our heavenly Father… Let’s pray!

Father God;
We thank you for your blessings in our lives,
We praise you Lord for the wisdom found through the gospel of Mark,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we continue to learn more about you through your word.

Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.

God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your ways, your everlasting wisdom and strength.

May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.

We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.

Praise God,
Amen!

This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre
Email: danielstpierre@thrivethroughchrist.com

Posted in Bible Studies.

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