"They are mean to widows and steal their homes. Then they try to make themselves look good by saying long prayers. God will punish them very much."
— Mark 12:40
In the previous verses, Jesus had described the teachers of the law as wanting places of honor and loving to be recognized as important. Here he emphasizes that these "teachers" cheat widows and then act very pious by saying long prayers in public to cover up their thievery. Does this sound familiar? TV preachers who constantly make pleas for money, some of whom have been caught cheating those who have contributed to them, have given Christianity and Christian ministry a bad name. Jesus makes it clear that not only will such charlatans and cheats be held accountable, but they also will be punished more severely. Why? Isn't all sin the same in the sight of God? No! People in position of trust are held to higher standards. When they abuse the people of God for their own gain, they face additional wrath and judgement from God!
Father, bless those who sacrifice to lead your people. Protect them from harm. Don't let Satan's attacks discourage and defeat them. On the other hand, dear Father, please defeat and remove any who pretend to lead your people, but who are using their position to make themselves rich or cheat those they claim to serve. Please bring them to repentance, I pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
Jesus was teaching in the temple area. Jesus asked, "Why do the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David ? With the help of the Holy Spirit, David himself says: 'The Lord (God) said to my Lord (Christ): Sit by me at my right side, and I will put your enemies under your control. ' David himself calls the Christ 'Lord.' So how can the Christ be David's son?" Many people listened to Jesus and were very pleased. Jesus continued teaching. Jesus said, "Be careful of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around wearing clothes that look important. And they love for people to show respect to them in the market places. They love to get the most important seats in the synagogues. And they love to get the most important seats at the feasts. They are mean to widows and steal their homes. Then they try to make themselves look good by saying long prayers. God will punish them very much." Jesus sat near the temple money box where people put their gifts. He watched the people put money in the box. Many rich people gave much money. Then a poor widow came and gave two very small copper coins. These coins were not even worth a penny. Jesus called his followers to him. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth. This poor widow gave only two small coins. But she really gave more than all the rich people. Those people have plenty; they gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor. But she gave all she had. And she needed that money to help her live."
Related Scripture Readings
Now I have something to say to the elders in your group. I am also an elder. I myself have seen Christ's sufferings. And I will share in the glory that will be shown to us. I beg you to take care of the group of people that you are responsible for. They are God's flock. Watch over that flock because you want to, not because you are forced to do it. That is how God wants it. Do it because you are happy to serve, not because you want money. Don't be like a ruler over those people you are responsible for. But be good examples to those people. Then when the Ruling Shepherd (Christ) comes, you will get a crown. That crown will be very glorious, and it will never lose its beauty.
1 Peter 5:1-4
My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers. Why? Because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly than other people.
The Lord said, "Who is the wise and trusted servant? The master trusts one servant to give the other servants their food at the right time. Who is the servant that the master trusts to do that work? When the master comes and finds that servant doing the work he gave him, that servant will be very happy. I tell you the truth. The master will choose that servant to take care of everything the master owns. But what will happen if that servant is evil and thinks that his master will not come back soon? That servant will begin to beat the other servants, men and women. He will eat and drink and get drunk. Then the master of that servant will come when that servant is not ready. It will be a time when that servant is not expecting the master. Then the master will punish that servant. The master will send him away to be with the other people that don't obey. "That servant knew what his master wanted him to do. But that servant did not make himself ready or try to do what his master wanted. So that servant will be punished very much! But what about the servant that does not know what his master wants? The servant does things that deserve punishment. But he will get less punishment than the servant that knew what he should do. Any person that has been given much will be responsible for much. Much more will be expected from the person that has been given more."