Mark 12:38-44 38 And in his teaching he 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.”
41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
This passage in Mark is Jesus’ final rebuttal against all the different religious leaders who came against Him during the days leading up to His crucifixion. No one could deny that He was indeed the Christ as He had publicly revealed and declared on Palm Sunday as He entered into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt surrounded by people worshipping Him. Jesus revealed that He is indeed the Son of God who walked on this earth in order to provide for our salvation. The words and actions of Jesus Christ over two thousand years ago are still significant today as it is only through His perfect life and obedience to God that we may be justified in the sight of God. All of us fail to love God as we should and none of us live up to the standard of God that He requires. As all of mankind is created in the image of God we are responsible to God to reflect His glory- to honor and obey Him. Only Jesus Christ has done so. Only Jesus Christ has defeated sin and the devil upon the cross. It is through the cross of Jesus Christ that our salvation is provided for as we surrender to Him and turn from our wicked ways. We receive His righteousness as He took our sins upon His body and as they were destroyed in Him.
Sadly the religious leaders in Jerusalem who should have recognized the Christ when He came, rejected Jesus of Nazareth and the same is true in our day. Although we may not walk physically with Jesus as the Israelites were able to do so, we have the Word of God as found in the Bible which gives us all the knowledge that we need for salvation. We can read about these events in history through which a person like you or me not only lived a good life but a perfect life and also brought the solution to all that is wrong in this world. Everyone should be looking for a way out of this darkness. In spite of the goodness of God still seen in creation, we all know that there is much evil and corruption in this world as a result of the fall. And as the underlying root problem is found within the very heart of mankind, without the inner man being transformed and healed, any other attempt to correct evil and to end darkness will ultimately fail. Jesus Christ can and will transform the heart of anyone who will repent and believe in Him and one day He will return to this world to complete the plan of salvation. He will establish His perfect eternal Kingdom and all sin and evil will be removed forever. There will be a new creation and the curse of sin will be ultimately removed and righteousness will reign forever. As Jesus silenced His critics here in the Temple you could say that He was laying claim to His throne. He alone is worthy and able to rule over all of mankind. He will rule His Kingdom perfectly with only those subjects that are loyal to Him and who love Him. Those who reject Him and hate Him will be cast away forever. And so, even in our day, these events in history carry great weight and significance.
Jesus teaches the people to beware of the Scribes who were the experts in the Old Testament Scriptures. Not only did they not recognize Jesus as the Christ in spite of all that the Son of God had made known about Himself in the Old Testament but they loved the limelight that their positions had brought them. They presented a false glory. The glory of God could not be seen in them in spite of their long robes and the special status they had among the people. All the knowledge they had acquired about God by their intense study of the Word of God had not led them to see Jesus Christ. They received many blessings for their efforts and yet they were still outside the Kingdom of God. How many people in our day have managed to gain recognition among others in society and the glory that they hold to will all one day fade away?
What a contrast with the poor widow who put a penny into the offering box. Jesus Christ could see everything clearly. He knew the motives of every action taken by anyone He saw. He knows the motives of every action you take. On the surface the widow had given very little and what she had given would not contribute significantly to the work in the Temple. But her actions showed her love to God in a manner of which the Scribes did not understand. It was not that she was poor or specifically the amount out of her total remaining money that she gave that made Jesus draw attention to her but rather the manner in which she gave. She gave out of a transformed heart. She gave out of her love to God. The glory of God was seen in her actions. She reflected the glory of God in her humility in what appeared to be an insignificant event.
Do you feel that your actions are insignificant at times? Do you feel that you may not ever be significant to God? Don’t forget the widow with the penny. He sees all. He doesn’t love one person more than another. He loves all of His children equally. If you are born again by the Spirit of God, you are precious to Him. He loves you with an infinite love. He loves to see you glorify God with your life in whatever manner that may be.
But He does despise those who reveal a false glory. The scribes were among the enemies of God. They would receive the greater condemnation. Why? Because they knew the Word of God and yet still would not repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Because they were leading others away from the way of salvation. It is truly sad to be among those who reject the love of Jesus Christ. Jesus died for all. There is not a sinner who cannot come to Jesus for salvation if they will only truly repent and believe. Those who reject Him will be eternally condemned and it is truly sad as they did not have to go to destruction. They will one day be finally condemned in the final judgment. But there are those like the scribes that will receive a greater condemnation. It is a scary thing to be in a place of leadership within the Church and yet be eternally lost and yet there are many such people. They will receive the greater condemnation as they, of all people, should have recognized Jesus as the Christ and yet they did not do so. Do not think that every church leader is of God. The devil can be in the midst of the Church. Remember how Jesus condemned the scribes and all the religious leaders who were about to crucify Him.
Pastor Murray Hack