Mar 12:38-44 NKJV 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.” (41) Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. (42) Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. (43) So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; (44) for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

Jesus was a radical, he preached that the Kingdom of Heaven was near, he also preached against the evil of the religious leaders of his day. He we find him talking about the scribes, they were the ones who were responsible for writing documents, for copying the scrolls and they were also the ones who were teachers. Notice that the preaching here has to do with how they comported themselves in everyday life. How they appeared to be highly religious and yet would steal from those who were less fortunate than themselves, he spoke of how they wanted to be seen in the best seats at synagogue but would foreclose on widows and steal their property supposedly to give the money to God but really wanted it for their own use. I think we have to remember that power tends to corrupt those who wield it.

It seems to me that the right thing to do with those who hold offices is to move them back to having to live among those they had passed law, or taxes on. That might just make them realize just how unfair their laws and taxes really are. When I look at the history of the Church, and the history of our nation, I see that the longer one holds an office, the more the temptation is to garner as much as you can for yourself at the expense of others. I disagree with the idea that the leaders of the Church have lifetime appointments to their positions. If you are a pastor, then if you attain a higher rank, it should be term limited and you should return to that duty that God had called you to again.

Jesus came to serve, not to be served, he washed the disciples feet, he served them as he also served the people that they met each day. Healing and teaching the common folks, from farmers, to prostitutes, to tax collectors. He was called a wine bibber because he went to parties and because he was willing to eat and drink with anyone who invited him. From Pharisees, to Tax Collectors, each of them needed to know the good news of the scriptures. He was a radical and today, I wonder how many churches would welcome this preacher, and how many common folk would love to have him around. How would you feel about a preacher who came to your pulpit and told you that you were a whitewashed tomb?

That is the reason that so many of the ruling class hated Jesus, he told it like it is, no pulled punches, no little white lies, he told the truth as God saw it, not as man wanted it to be. That’s why he said to beware of the Scribes. Hear what Jesus says just before the passage we are in today.

Mark 12:35-37 “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, TILL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES YOUR FOOTSTOOL.” ‘ Therefore David himself calls Him ‘LORD’;’ how is He then his Son?” And the common people heard Him gladly.

The regular folks heard what Jesus said and were glad to hear it. The scribes were not as happy to hear him speak, because he called them out in front of the people. His very next line is: Beware of the Scribes. What an indictment of their way of living.

The reality of scripture is that God has always spoken of the right way to live in the world, he has always chastised the way of life of so many of His people. We opened our worship this morning with this verse in Psalm 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” We humans tend to go at things without thinking about what it might be when we don’t go to the Lord our God first. Remember that King David wanted to built the temple for God, and he was stopped, it was not what God had for him to do. By the same token we also know that our God came in the person of Jesus, the human face of God, and died so that we might be reconciled to God. I know that y’all know John 3:16 but do you know the verses that follow it?

Joh 3:17-18 NKJV “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (18) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

When we do come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, there comes a change in each of those who truly believe, it is exemplified by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Church at Colossae. Hear these words: Col 3:12-13 NKJV “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; (13) bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

At the end of todays reading in Mark we read of the widow who put two coins into the coffers of the Temple for the use of God. Jesus commends her for her excessive generosity, because she gave all that she had to God. That is what Jesus, Paul, David and all the writers of the scriptures are talking about. When we say that the greatest commandment is:

HEAR, O ISRAEL, THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE. AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.” The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. That is what Jesus said to the lawyer who came to him to ask what is the greatest commandment. So David says, if the Lord is not a part of whatever you want to do, then it will not last. Jesus talks of love and of the hypocrisy of those who only pretend to love God and neighbor, and Paul speaks to the Churches of the 1st Century of how they are to live together in community, as a family unit, and as an extended family. If you go to another city you should be able to find a member of the family there who will invite you to church, to lunch and to fellowship. One who will pray with you and work with you to care for your needs and to help you to do whatever it is you are called by God to do in that place.

Jesus wanted the scribes to change their ways, as well as the Pharisees and the Levitical priesthood. They wanted him dead and gone so they could again be the power they thought themselves to be. In a short while, it would happen as they wanted it to, not because they wanted it, but because it was the last thing on God’s to do list. God, in the person of Jesus, had to die to set us free, what a radical thought that is, and to seal the deal, he would also rise again 3 days later.

If you want to follow this Radical preacher named Jesus, then you too will find yourself in hot water as well. He expects us to live in Love of God and Love of Neighbor. Agape Love, not the love that the world recognizes, but rather the love that comes from God. A love that sent early Christians out of Rome to the hills surrounding the city to rescue any children that had been left there to be eaten by wild animals. That was the abortion of that day, the Christians rescued those children. Christians also fed the poor, clothed the naked, and prayed for the sick, and some even performed healing. Some wonder why the Church seems to be so powerless today, it is because we are afraid to be the radical people that the early Christians were, people who gave their lives in the arena and in the torture chambers of Rome.

In later times came the Christians who were and are today, suffering in prisons around the world, tortured to give up their faith, killed when they won’t. They still work to bring their neighbors to a knowledge of Jesus Christ, hoping that they might be saved from hell. What do we do in this country? Are we the radical believers, or do we hide, Christians in hiding, so many of us are just that. It pains me to acknowledge this truth, it pains me to acknowledge that so many of us are like those Scribes that Jesus warned against.

Christians divorce rate goes along with society, our work ethic is just the same as our neighbor, just enough to get by. Our witness is in many cases non-existent because we don’t want to be ridiculed or laughed at, or worse accused of being radical. Too bad, our nation was founded on Radical Biblical principles, yet today, we cower in the corner afraid that someone will call us radical. What is so radical about the good news? Is it that when we become Christ followers we are expected to live differently than our neighbors? Is it that we are afraid that someone might think we actually believe that Jesus walked on water, healed people of sickness, and died for us?

We should be telling folks what it means to walk with Jesus through this life, to have our hearts broken by that which breaks the heart of God. To reach out to the disenfranchised, the sick, the hungry to try to bring Christ into their lives that they too might know the glory of God.