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                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                Beware Of Pretentious Scribes (12:38-40)

INTRODUCTION

1. Teaching in the temple on Tuesday of the Last Week, Jesus has
   countered the doctrines of various religious and political leaders...
   a. The Pharisees and Herodians
   b. The Sadducees and scribes

2. Toward the end, He then addressed the practices of some of them...
   a. Especially the scribes - Mk 12:38-40
   b. But also the Pharisees - cf. Mt 23:1-39

[Mark’s gospel limits Jesus’ censure to pretentious (self-important and
affected, made to look or sound important) scribes, which we shall also
do in this lesson.  Let’s begin with what is said about the...]

I. PRETENTIOUS SCRIBES IN JESUS’ DAY

   A. DESIRED TO WEAR THEIR LONG ROBES...
      1. Their "flowing robes" were full-length prayer shawls with
         tassels attached to the four corners, in contrast to the
         colorful common Jewish dress. - J.R. Edwards (PNTC)
      2. Made of wool or linen, these blanket-like mantles, known as
         tallits, distinguished rabbis and scholars as men of wealth and
         eminence. - ibid.
      -- They relished the distinction of their robes and the attention
         it gave them

   B. LOVED GREETINGS IN THE MARKETPLACES...
      1. "the formal salutations in the market-places, and to have the
         people address them as ‘rabbi.’ " - Hendriksen (NTC); cf. Mt
         23:6
      2. What the men who are here rebuked were always longing for was
         not a mere token of friendliness but rather a demonstration of
         respect, a public recognition of their prominence. - ibid.
      -- They wanted to be addressed by titles that distinguished and
         elevated them

   C. BEST SEATS IN THE SYNAGOGUES...
      1. Refers to the benches along the walls of the synagogues, and
         especially to the dais at the front of the synagogue, which
         faced the congregation seated on the floor in the middle of the
         synagogue. - Edwards (PNTC)
      2. These "first seats," as they were called in Greek, were
         reserved for teachers and persons of rank, and afforded the
         best position from which to address the congregation. - ibid.
      -- They loved the honor and attention such seats gave them

   D. BEST PLACES AT FEASTS...
      1. Seating at banquets was either according to age or according to
         importance. - C.A. Evans (WBC)
      2. Jesus had warned against seeking out the best places at a feast
         - Lk 14:7-11
      -- They wanted privileges they felt due their position and stature

   E. DEVOUR WIDOWS’ HOUSES...
      1. By embezzling funds set up for the care of widows - Evans (WBC)
      2. By freeloading on the hospitality of widows - ibid.
      3. By mismanaging estates or wills of widows entrusted to them
         - ibid.
      -- They took advantage of widows who trusted them

   F. FOR SHOW OFFER LONG PRAYERS...
      1. The scribes were capable of lengthy, eloquent prayers - Evans
         (WBC)
      2. But this they did in pretense, consistent with their
         ostentation in dress and pursuit of honors and recognition
         - ibid.
      -- They paraded their religious knowledge and supposed piety

[Human nature being what it is, it should not surprise us that there can
also be...]

II. PRETENTIOUS ‘SCRIBES’ IN OUR DAY

   A. MINISTERS ARE OFTEN ELEVATED...
      1. Distinctive clerical garb, without NT authority
      2. Religious titles (Reverend, Father, Pastor, Preacher) - contra
         Mt 23:8-10
         a. Apostle, prophet, pastor, elder, evangelist, teacher are
            descriptive terms in the NT
         b. They are never used as religious titles in the NT
      3. Reserved seating in worship
      4. Preferred treatment at social gatherings
      5. Unaccountable control of financial resources
      6. Always being asked to lead public prayers
      -- Even well-intentioned respect can easily lead to
         pretentiousness

   B. MINISTERS OFTEN ELEVATE THEMSELVES...
      1. Preferring to wear distinctive clothing to stand out, gain
         respect
      2. Expecting others to address them by religious titles
      3. Demanding special seating in worship
      4. Assuming preferred treatment in social settings
      5. Embezzling church funds, taking advantage of widows
      6. Praying long, showy prayers by rote
      -- Ministers of Christ are called to be humble servants - Mt
         23:11-12

CONCLUSION

1. The words of Jesus should serve as a warning...
   a. Not just to those who might be led astray by the pretentiousness
      of religious leaders
   b. But by religious leaders themselves, lest they no longer serve as
      true ministers of Christ

2. It is not just religious leaders who can have problems with
   pretentiousness...
   a. The average Christian can easily be ostentatious in their conduct
      and clothing
   b. Thus we should give careful thought to these words of Jesus:

   And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles
   himself will be exalted. - Mt 23:12
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