Read: Mark 12:38-40
Once again, Jesus warns the people about the hypocrisy of the teachers of the law. Matthew devotes and entire chapter to the subject, while John Mark and Luke provide a very brief summary.
As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. Mark 12:38-39
I feel like we know these guys well by this point. We see the likes of Pharisees in many different forms these days as celebrities are given undue attention for using their gifts for entertaining many or politicians for wooing people with their charisma. Then you mix the two to create a celebrity pastor — whatever that is! Sadly, you probably think of names of pastors when you read this.
Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. He is not fooled by these guys, nor is He pleased:
They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:40
The euphoria of public fame and fortune comes with a price. People will follow those in positions of leadership and they will follow informal leaders as well. It’s natural. We see it all the time. Jesus here leaves us with an understanding that He sees their deception. In a way, He lets us know that their behavior is obvious to Him and will not be tolerated — we don’t have to do anything — These men will be punished most severely.
As for the punishment, I have no clue what that means. The indication is there are levels of punishment, but I’m not the one who effects the discipline here. Best to leave that to God.
Given time, deceivers will be exposed. The sad reality is they leave a wake of destruction in their path. The warning is clear. The remedy is to surround ourselves with people who love us enough to tell us we are out of line, true friends that call out our weaknesses in love.
Lord, help me to be careful about seeking to be seen. Make my intentions worthy of your glory. And if I see a brother or sister in Christ leaning toward the way of the teachers in this passage, show me how to lovingly communicate with them.