APRIL 10, 2016
MAIN TEXT: MARK 12:38-13:2
And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 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. 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.”
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
The text for today is a dangerous text.
Jesus is a controversial figure. This much can be gathered from this general portion of the Gospel of Mark. He does not shy back from confrontation and hits hard the religious spirit that was so prevalent and is also very prevalent today.
In our text today, Jesus takes his disciples on a journey. He starts by telling them to beware of the scribes and then lists the activity and mindset of the typical scribe. He then shows them an aspect of this larger system that they were a part of and how it was setup to guard the rich and rob the poor. He concludes by telling his disciples that this system that was so prevalent and ominous would come crumbling down to the ground.
This passage gives expression to
So, the question for today is: Are you sure about Jesus?
Jesus cuts into our facade
Jesus draws attention to the scribes and warns his followers to not be like them. So, the question is, how did they act? They used clothing to display their worth. They used popularity to communicate their value. They used position to show their importance. They used privilege for self-aggrandizement. They used the vulnerable for financial and material gain. They used their public prayers to give the impression of a righteous person.
You can fool your parents. You can fool your boss. You can fool your spouse. You can fool other people at church. You can fool your neighbors.
You can’t fool Jesus.
Are you sure about Jesus? He sees through your show and knows who you really are, yet, in his love he gave of himself for you. Jesus takes away all your reasons to keep your walls up by taking your punishment on himself.
Jesus exposes our participation in systemic injustice
Jesus then takes this group to observe people giving money to the temple. We see many rich giving large amounts and then a widow, who Jesus highlights who has given simultaneously less than the others, but also more than the others, because she gave all she had to live on. Jesus exposes first the facade of this broken system by showing the disciples the lifestyle of the scribes, then he takes them to show them the injustice that is being promulgated by this system, where a poor widow gives her final means to the temple.
The brokenness of our world is around us and before us constantly. We live within systems that are very broken. If you are a student of history, you know that the systems we now operate within were forged by broken people. It is very difficult to consider the pain and tragedy of our past as a nation–the mass killing of many native peoples from America as we took over their land, the oppressive slavery of Africans over centuries in our country, the unethical treatment of the Chinese as we ventured Westward. These realities may be in our rearview mirror, but under our feet has been laid a foundation (or a system) that was forged in many ways by these atrocities.
Due to this, our section of Scripture today is extremely personal. Our world today does not operate as it should, nor did it operate as it should have in the past. We must be honest about the unjust deeds done and look squarely at the unjust results that operate within our world today.
The Gospel demands that we care about issues of injustice. Jesus tells us in this text that we stand condemned if we use our positions of power and privilege to enlarge our own personal kingdoms. Jesus exposes our culpability as a people toward the injustice that we have built into the framework of our thinking and living.
Are you sure about Jesus? This means that you take his posture toward the poor and the vulnerable. This means that you serve the weak and the powerless with your life. This is what Christ did for you, and how you reflect him to the world.
Jesus destroys our idols
We are what we love. You love what you worship with your life. From your heart, you go after that which you believe will satisfy you and fill you and give you joy and peace and purpose.
Jesus and his disciples leave the temple after taking notice of the poor widow and this broken, unjust system and one of those with him, perhaps with a more patriotic bent, tries to indicate the significance and value of this great place they were at as a nation to likely impress Jesus, and Jesus tells him that this whole system is going to come crashing down to the ground. This system that elevates the wicked and oppresses the weak is going to be destroyed.
This was likely not the most encouraging thing Jesus could have said, but we must remember that Jesus is serious about idolatry.
Are you sure about Jesus? He knows you and isn’t impressed by your big buildings–your marvelous works, your great endeavors–but rather, he calls you and me to look fully not at what we have done for him but what he has done for us and marvel. This Jesus did destroy the temple. He destroys the temple in our hearts that boasts in our works and in its place puts his Spirit so we can live truly, freely, rightly.
This is a dangerous text.
Are you sure about Jesus?
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 12:38-13:2
Who are some figures in history that you would find their lives by losing them? Or, who in your mind has served the cause of the poor, widow, orphan, foreigner well in your life?
Why is the text for this weekend a dangerous text?
Name three ways that you’ve tried to impress God with your works.
How do you make sure that you are not growing cold to the work of God in your life?
Describe how you marvel at the work of God through Jesus.