Summary: The scribes were guilty of pride and hypocrisy. And there is a 'scribe' within us. We must avoid the sins of pride and hypocrisy and pursue humility and integrity. I would be delighted if you could rate this sermon and give brief feedback.


PRAY before starting the sermon.

ILLUSTRATION: {Few of you might recognize this man on the screen.

This is Jim Jones, a self-proclaimed prophet who led a cultic church known as the Peoples Temple.

He faced several allegations, including the allegation that he illegally diverted the money of his followers for his own use.

In the midst of these allegations, Jim Jones and hundreds of his followers emigrated to Guyana in South America and lived in a closed community known as Jonestown.

Eventually, Jones confiscated his followers’ passports and money.

He even manipulated his followers in various ways.

To cut the long story short, on November 14, 1978, few government officials went to Guyana to investigate the alleged abuses by Jim Jones.

When Jim Jones came to know this, he ordered his followers to kill them and eventually 4 of them were killed and the rest of them escaped.

Fearing that the authorities will arrest him, on November 18, Jim Jones ordered his followers to drink cyanide-laced punch or drink.

Children were the first to die.

Even those who refused to drink were forced to drink by the armed guards.

Jim Jones himself died of a gunshot wound in the head.

Probably he shot himself dead.

Altogether, 913 people died in this mass suicide, including 276 children.}

It’s heartbreaking to hear and see how some religious charlatans manipulate people and destroy their lives.

In today’s passage, Jesus condemns such religious leaders who commit terrible atrocities against people who are under their care.

Would you take God’s Word and turn your Bibles with me to MARK 12:38-40 (READ)?

I have entitled today’s sermon as: “BEWARE OF PRIDE AND HYPOCRISY.”

In the passage that we read today, we see that:

CENTRAL PROPOSITION OF THE TEXT: Jesus tells people to be wary of the scribes because of their love for recognition and respect, and because of their religious hypocrisy.

FALLEN CONDITION FOCUS: {Today, false teachers exploit people like the scribes did.

We keep hearing about false teachers and watch reports about them on television.

As I studied today’s passage, I understood that the scribes were guilty of the sins of pride and hypocrisy.

Just like these scribes, even we struggle with the sins of pride and hypocrisy.

There is a scribe within us.

So, don’t think that this message is only for the false prophets.

All of must heed to Jesus’ warning.}

THE PURPOSE BRIDGE: To exhort the students of CGLD to avoid love for recognition and respect, and to avoid religious hypocrisy.

CENTRAL PROPOSITION OF THE SERMON: I have used inductive proposition for this sermon.

Why did Jesus tell the people to be wary of the scribes?

Three reasons:


Read verse 38.

After asking a pointed question to the scribes in verse 37 (refer), Jesus began teaching to the crowd in the temple.

And while teaching, he tells the people to be wary of the scribes.

Now, these scribes were given the solemn responsibility of teaching God’s Word to the people.

They were spiritual leaders.

They were responsible to feed the people with God’s Word and lead them in the right path.

In light of this, it’s sad that Jesus had to tell the people to be wary of the scribes.

The scribes were to shepherd God’s people.

Instead, these scribes led them astray.

Their desire for recognition is seen in two things:

A. The scribes liked to walk around in long robes.

During Jesus’ days, people of prominence wore long white robes.

While the common people wore colored robes, the scribes wore white robes.

Also, according to Numbers 15:38 (refer), the Lord commands the Israelites to make tassels on the corners of their garments in order to identify themselves as Jews and to remind themselves the commandments of the Lord.

Now there’s nothing wrong in wearing long robes and wearing tassels on the robes.

Probably even Jesus had tassels on his robe (refer Mt. 9:20-21).

But these scribes made their fringes or tassels long in order to gain attention (refer Mt. 23:5).

They desperately sought attention!

It’s good to dress up well.

But listen, never dress up in a way that will draw the undue attention of people.

B. The scribes liked greetings in the marketplace.

These scribes didn’t like to be greeted privately.

They liked to be greeted in the marketplace where plenty of people could see them and they can receive plenty of greetings!

Luke says that they ‘love (not just like) greetings in the marketplaces’ (refer Luke 20:46).

They expected to be addressed with titles of respect and dignity.

Just as it is not wrong to wear tassels on a robe, it’s not wrong to respect authorities.

In fact, the Bible commands us to respect and submit to authorities.

But these scribes expected others to address them with certain titles.

Matthew 23:7 (refer) tells us that they expected others to address them as ‘rabbi,’ which means ‘my master.’

Read Mt. 23:8-12: 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Jesus says that these religious leaders must not be addressed as a ‘teacher’ or ‘instructor’ too.

NIV Study Bible notes points out that, “The warning is against seeking titles of honor to foster pride. We should avoid unreasonable literalism in applying such commands.”

ILLUSTRATION: One pastor got very upset when he was not addressed as “Reverend” by one of the staff members at Trinity Christian College, who called him to invite for our graduation.

Today, many ministers in our city and country are purchasing doctorates and bishops’ certificates just to gain recognition from people.

This is the kind of attitude that Jesus condemned.

Secondly, Jesus tells the people to be wary of the scribes:


Read verse 39.

A. The scribes have the best seats in the synagogues.

A synagogue was an important place of assembly for the Jewish community.

In the synagogues, there would be a platform and some of these scribes would sit on the platform.

When a person sits on a stage like that, there’s no way that he could be missed.

Everyone will get to see him.

The scribes wanted the entire congregation to see them and admire them for their position of authority!

B. The scribes have places of honor at feasts.

At feasts, the most important place was at the right side of the host and the second most prominent place was at the left side of the host.

The scribes wanted to be seated near the host.

They wanted to be the center of attention.

But listen to what the Lord says:

Read Luke 14:7-11.

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

So, the issue is pride.

The scribes sought to have places of honor because of their pride.

Even today, some pastors take offense if they are not given important seats in a meeting.

The scribes loved themselves rather than loving God.

The scribes sought honor from people rather than from God (refer Jn 5:44; 12:43).

“for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” John 12:43

Jesus demanded a different attitude from his disciples (refer Mk 9:35; 10:42-45).

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45

Christ himself is our perfect model.

And I would add that several men and women of God on this campus are wonderful examples who are worthy of imitation.

We must not give place to pride in our hearts.

Thirdly, Jesus tells the people to be wary of the scribes:


Read verse 40.

The scribes were hypocritical.

They appeared to be spiritual, but they didn’t really care for the people.

Jesus says that they devoured widows’ houses.

Many of the scribes knew that the greatest command is to love God and to love people, but they fail to love the oppressed and poor.

They were supposed to shepherd people, but they were devouring helpless people.

Now the scribes were not to be paid for their teaching.

However, they could receive gifts.

As we know, poor widows are powerless and vulnerable.

Probably, these scribes sought huge offerings from these widows.

Or it could be that these scribes who had legal authority didn’t give justice to the poor widows.

Craig Keener suggests that “the charge of ‘devouring widows’ houses’ portrays them as worse than tax gatherers.”

That’s why Jesus condemns the religious authorities for making his Father’s temple a robber’s den.

Woe to those who use religion as a means for making money.

ILLUSTRATION: Recently, a faith preacher, Jessy Duplantis asked people to believe with him for a private jet which is worth 54 million dollars (more than 37 crores).

QUOTE: Warren Wiersbe: “For nineteen centuries the church has been telling the world to admit its sins, repent, and believe the gospel. In the twilight of the twentieth century, the world is telling the church to face up to her sins, repent, and start being the true church of that gospel.”

Read James 1:27.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

That’s why SABC students have a course called Christian Response to Human Needs (CRHN).

God is extremely concerned about the fatherless and the widows and so should we (refer Ex. 22:22; Isa. 1:17; Jer. 22:3).

“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.” Isaiah 1:17

If we are truly spiritual, we will be concerned about the oppressed and the poor.

Further, Jesus says that the scribes say long prayers for a pretense.

Yes, the temple is supposed to be a place of prayer (refer Mk 11:17), but their prayers were not acceptable to God.

Now, it’s okay and even good to say long prayers.

But if you pretend to be spiritual by saying long prayers, that’s wrong.

And I believe Jesus is referring to public prayers here, not private prayers.

Read Mt. 6:6-7.

6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

The hypocritical religious leaders and believers will receive greater condemnation.

Read James 3:1.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1

It seems that there are degrees of punishment on the judgment day.

Friends, why do we want to serve God?

Do we serve God because we love him or do we serve him because we want to be noticed by others?

We should be able to say like Paul:

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Remember, ministry is a responsibility, not a privilege.

Let’s be transparent and not give any place for hypocrisy in our lives.

Let us serve God with integrity.


CENTRAL PROPOSITION OF THE SERMON: Avoid the sins of pride and hypocrisy and pursue humility and integrity.

Let’s not allow pride to destroy our lives.

Let us humble ourselves before God.

Read 1 Peter 5:6—Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.

Let’s seek the approval of God rather than the approval of people.

Also, let’s stop living a hypocritical life.

Let’s not use religion as a means of gain.

The Lord wants us to live a life of integrity.

Read Proverbs 11:5—The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight, but the wicked falls by his own wickedness.

Let’s strive to live a life of integrity in all aspects.