FALSE TEACHERS MUST BE EXPOSED AS RELIGIOUS FRAUDS
In today’s Christian culture there seems to be a reluctance to speak against specific false teachers and to expose and condemn them as religious frauds. It is part of our acquiescence to the political correctness of the ultimate virtue of Tolerance. Jesus certainly had no qualms about calling out the scribes and other religious leaders of his day for their hypocrisy and pride and selfish ambition. He labeled them as blind leaders of the blind – they not only are headed for eternal damnation themselves but they are trying to get everyone to accompany them to that ultimate lake of fire.
We have seen Jesus patiently responding in Wisdom and Authority to the attacks leveled against him by the various groups that came to him with tricky questions to try to trip him up and discredit him. He turned around all of their arguments and made them all look silly in front of the general public – who were reveling in such exchanges. Now having finally silenced them, Jesus turns on the offensive and levels some scathing critiques of these religious frauds.
Matt. 7:15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Still the third day of Passion Week.
3 FATAL FLAWS OF THE SCRIBES (OR ANY FALSE RELIGIOUS TEACHERS)
I. (:35-37) WRONG CHRISTOLOGY = THEIR VIEW OF THE MESSIAH –
CORRECTIVE TEACHING: CHRIST AS THE SON OF GOD
A. (:35) Hypocritical Façade — Attempt to Look Good and Gain Favor
“And Jesus answering began to say, as He taught in the temple,
‘How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?’”
Scribes imagine that they are being complimentary in their assigning of the title “Son of David” to the Messiah; very respectful and positive
Christ is essentially asking:
“How can the scribes say that God’s Anointed King who is to come is merely the human Son of David?”
MacArthur: And this opens up for us the fundamentally wrong conception of the Messiah with which they were dealing, that He was a man, a gifted man, a great leader, a military man, a man of might, influence, power, etc., etc. And that was all to be true but that wasn’t the complete answer.
B. (:36-37a) Exposure by Christ – Failure to Recognize the Messiah as the Son of God
1. (:36) Quotation from King David
a. Personal Quotation
“David himself said”
Sproul: David, of course, was Israel’s most illustrious king. He was a shepherd, a poet, a warrior, and a brilliant administrator. He extended the boundaries of the nation, was the greatest military genius of Israel’s history, and had the finest public-works program of any king who ruled over the Jewish people. Thus, the Jews regarded the reign of David as the golden age of Israel.
b. Inspired Quotation
“in the Holy Spirit,”
c. Divine Quotation – Dialogue among the Triune Godhead
“The Lord said to my LORD,”
Quote from Ps. 110:1 — is the most often quoted Psalm by the New Testament writers.
Alan Carr: The first “Lord”, in Psalm 110:1, is the Hebrew word “Yahweh”. The second “Lord” in that verse is the Hebrew word “Adonai”. The idea in that verse is this, “the Lord (Yahweh) said to my (David’s) Lord (Adonai)…”
Yahweh = the name God used to reveal Himself to Moses in the burning bush incident
Ex. 3:14 “ I am who I am”
Adonai = the one who is absolutely sovereign
Often in the Psalms used together to refer to the one God = Ps. 8:1 “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth”
Here obviously speaking of 2 persons
MacArthur: He took the titles of God…Rock, Stone, Savior, Redeemer, Holy One, Lord of Hosts, King, First and Last, Light, Law-giver, all Old Testament titles for God that Jesus attributed to Himself. Absolutely, unequivocally the testimony of the four gospels is that He is Lord. That then becomes the confession which saves. Romans 10:9, “If you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,” that’s the faith element in His work which assumes the cross. But more importantly, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord. He is Lord.”
d. Significant Quotation
“Sit at My right hand, until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet.”
Not dealing with trivial matters
Hendriksen: Jehovah is promising the Mediator such preeminence, power, authority, and majesty as would be proper only for One who, as to his person, from all eternity was, is now, and forever will be God. See Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 2:9; Rev. 5:1-10; 12:5.
2. (:37a) Question Raised by Jesus
“David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; and so in what sense is He his son?”
William Barclay: At all times the Jews looked forward to a God-sent deliverer who would be of David’s line. (Isaiah 9:2-7,Isaiah 11:1-9, Jeremiah 23:5 ff, Jeremiah 33:14-18, Ezekiel 34:23 ff, Ezekiel 37:24, Psalms 89:20 ff.) It was by that title that Jesus himself was often addressed, especially by the crowds (Mark 10:47 ff,Matthew 9:27, Matthew 12:23, Matthew 15:22, Matthew 21:9; Matthew 21:15). All through the New Testament the conviction that Jesus was in fact the son of David in his physical descent occurs (Romans 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:8, Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38). The genealogies of Jesus given in the passages from Matthew and Luke which we have cited are to show that Jesus was in fact of the lineage of David. What Jesus is doing is this–he is not denying that the Messiah is the Son of David, nor is he saying that he himself is not the Son of David. What he is saying is that he is the Son of David–and far more, not only David’s son but David’s Lord.
C. (:37b) Reaction of the Crowd
“And the great crowd enjoyed listening to Him.”
Enjoyment is not the same as spiritual receptivity and commitment
Hendriksen: Mark has used these identical words in another context, namely, in connection with the eagerness with which Herod Antipas listened to John the Baptist, the very man whom he, the “king,” was about to murder!
II. (:38-40) WRONG MINISTRY MOTIVATION = THEIR PURSUIT OF SELFISH AMBITION IN THEIR ROLE AS RESPECTED LEADERS –
CORRECTIVE TEACHING: SERVANT LEADERSHIP
[cf. 7 Woes proclaimed against the scribes in Matt. 23 – this is an abbreviated summary]
A. (:38-39) Hypocritical Façade — Attempt to Look Good and Be Treated with Respect
“And in His teaching He was saying: ‘Beware of the scribes’”
Usage by Mark of Blepo, Beware:
Mark 4:24 “And He was saying to them, ‘Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it shall be measured to you; and more shall be given you besides.’”
Mark 8:15 “And He was giving orders to them, saying, ‘Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’”
Mark 13:5 “And Jesus began to say to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you.’”
Mark 13:9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.”
Mark 13:23 “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.”
Mark 13:33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is.”
Insatiable appetite in their Selfish Ambition for:
1. Prominence – They love to be #1 — Pride
a. Pompous Parading About
“who like to walk around in long robes,”
characterized by an ostentatious display of dignity or self-importance; arrogant; conceited
Long white linen robes (everyone else wore bright colors) w/fringes that almost touched the ground.
Associated with honor – dressed like kings or priests who are about to officiate at some ceremony
b. Popularity and Respect
“and like respectful greetings in the market places,”
Barclay: The very title Rabbi means “My great one.” To be so addressed was agreeable to their vanity.
Hendriksen: 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.
2. Privilege – They love their perks — Selfish
a. Best seats in the synagogue – associated with honor and respect
“and chief seats in the synagogues,”
b. Best seats at banquets – associated with honor and respect
“and places of honor at banquets,”
B. (:40a) Exposure by Christ – Failure to Exhibit Servant Leadership
1. Frauds – Greedy Exploitation
“who devour widows’ houses,”
God plays a special role in caring for widows and orphans;
James defines true religion as taking care of widows;
Certainly the exploitation of widows by religious leaders would be an especially grievous violation of God’s law
Barclay: An expert in the law could take no pay for his teaching. He was supposed to have a trade by which he earned his daily bread. But these legal experts had managed to convey to people that there was no higher duty and privilege than to support a rabbi in comfort, that, in fact such support would undoubtedly entitle him or her who gave it to a high place in the heavenly academy. It is a sad fact that women have always been imposed upon by religious charlatans, and it would seem that these scribes and Pharisees imposed on simple people who could ill afford to support them.
2. Fakes – Grandiose Hypocrisy
“and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers;”
Matt. 6:1 ff
Alan Carr: Everything they did was geared toward satisfying their pride and making them look good in the eyes of others. They were literally in love with themselves and had no room in their hearts for God.
Hiebert: They hid their covetousness under a guise of great personal piety.
C. (:40b) Future Condemnation
“these will receive greater condemnation.”
Constable: Their typically “long prayers” presented an impression of piety that masked greed. They pretended to love God greatly, but their aim was to get people to love them greatly. The result would be “greater condemnation” when they stood before God’s judgment bar. Here is another indication that there are degrees of punishment (cf. Matt. 11:20- 24; James 3:1; et al.).
III. (:41-44) WRONG RELIGIOUS SYSTEM — JESUS EXPOSES THE EXPLOITATION OF POOR WIDOWS
A. (:41) Rich People Gave a Lot
“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.”
Long day; time to sit down
Go and see; use powers of observation
Shift in location – from the Court of the Gentiles (large, open area where thousands could hear his teaching) to the smaller Court of the Women where the treasury was located
B. (:42) Poor Widow Gave a Little
“And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.”.
1/64 of denarius small copper coins
After some computations . . . about $1.50 in today’s culture
C. (:43-44) Poor Widow Exploited to Give All She Had to False Religious System
“And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.’”
[See commentary by John MacArthur on this section; caused be to move away from the traditional view that this text was teaching sacrificial giving]
Beware of religious frauds – false teachers – they are out there – trying to gain recognition; serving themselves; pretending to be super spiritual; feathering their own nest; perverting the word of God; very showy and ostentatious in their ministry
– Check out their Christology
– Exercise discernment regarding their Motives – what drives them?
– Make sure they are not exploiting the vulnerable