Summary: The way to turn your back from the world and still save them at the same time.
Who are you trying to impress
Introduction: We learn here that this Matthew (Levi), he was writing to the Jews for the purpose to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal King.
Jesus said, (Read Matthew 6:5). This was a case of prayer gone wrong because: (1) their prayer had become a shallow exercise rather than a deep relationship- building one; (2) their prayers were rituals, rather than authentic expressing a loving heart: (3) their prayers were long and wordy, designed to impress others; (4) their prayers were filled with meaningless things; (5) their prayers became a cause for pride rather than an opportunity to express humble reliance on God.
Praying, like giving, is to be done to the Lord, not to man. Jesus said that people love to pray standing in the synagogues. Both a time and place for prayer were customary on our ancient Jewish synagogues. Therefore, Jesus is not condemning the practice of public prayer, but rather the misuse of it. Because of the statement enter into thy closet, some have suggested that all public prayer is wrong. This would be contrary to the rest of New Testament statement about prayer, commandments and restrictions regarding prayer, and examples of prayer meetings.
The principle here is that the believer should not make a show of his prayer nor of the answers he receives to prayer in such a way as to call unnecessary attention to himself. Some people especially the religious leaders, wanted to be seen as “holy,” and public prayer was one way to get attention. Jesus saw through their self-righteous acts, however, and taught that the essence of prayer is not public style but private communication with God. There is a place for public prayer, but to pray only where others will notice you indicates that your real audience is not God.
1. Jesus differentiated between two kinds of people
a. First, there were those who loved to show off, as describes in Mark 12:38-40.
b. Secondly, there were those who loved to serve no matter how little they possessed (Mark12:42).
2. When and why was teaching given by the Lord?
b. Jesus first warned His disciples, “Beware of the Scribes…” (Mark 12:38). The Greek expression for “beware” means, to see or perceive. His admonition was contrary to modern teaching about accepting people as they are. Jesus told his disciples to stay away from people who are not genuine, in order not to participate in their hypocrisy.
3. Who were the show-offs?
a. They were the scribes, which mean the learned ones. To know is not evil in itself, but to be proud of it is then being ignorant.
b. In particular, they studied the Law of God. After the return from the Exile, the duty of interpreting the Mosaic Law had fallen first toe the priest, and later to a group called Scribes, who became professional students and teachers of the Law. Due to this important task, it was tempting for them to assume the authority of God Himself. Even today pride lurks at every Bible student’s desk and behind every pulpit. We, too, must be careful lest we become proud peddlers of God’s Word.
4. What were the characteristics of the scribes?
a. Jesus first mentioned their dress. “Which love to go in long clothing” (Mark 12:38). The Greek word translated “in long clothing” is stolai. Stole was a long, flowing robe reaching to the feet, which was worn by kings and priest, or other persons of rank and distinction (Mark 16:5; Luke 15:22; 20:46).
b. The scribes wished to be set apart in order to receive homage. Some salutations were abject prostration, and a slave might also kiss the sleeve or skirt of his lord’s clothing to show respect. The lord Jesus prohibited the seventy he sent out from engaging in such activity “Salute no man by the way” (Luke 10:4). He said this to stress the urgency of proclaiming the Gospel.
c. The scribes, on the other hand, made a show of themselves by seeking “the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feast” (Mark 12:39). They were most intent on drawing attention to their glory than God’s. But “God is not a respecter of persons,” and in Christ we are all one rank (Acts 10:34; Gal. 3:28).
d. The scribes were totally unworthy of the honor they demanded for themselves. They even took advantage of the poor by taking away the little food that widows had in their houses (Mark 12:40).
e. Lastly, they completed their shame by saying long prayers for show. By their actions they demonstrated their lack of love for God or man. Because of their hypocrisy, Jesus said they would receive “greater damnation” (Mark 122:40).