The Book of Mark
BEWARE OF THE SCRIBES
Text: MARK 12:35-40
1. We have noticed in our study of the Gospel of Mark that our Lord was strongly opposed by the religious leaders of His day. They eventually turned Him over to the Roman authorities and had Him crucified.
2. As we continue in our study of the Gospel of Mark, we are now only a few days away from the cross (cf. Mark 14:1, 2).
3. Our last message dealt with the scribe who had a question about which was “the first (greatest) commandment of all” (12:28).
4. Tonight we will look at our Lord’s warnings regarding the scribes (cf. 12:38).
I. THEIR ILLUSTRIOUS HERITAGE
II. THEIR STUBBORN IGNORANCE
III. THEIR DAMNABLE HYPOCRISY
5. In the NT, the scribes are often lumped together with the Pharisees. In Matthew 23, Jesus said seven times, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Cf. Matt. 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29).
6. Our Lord said, “Beware of the scribes” (12:38). That’s because they were false teachers – hypocrites who were leading people astray.
7. Last week Bro. Earls said to beware of TD Jakes and beware of Benny Hinn. TD Jakes does not believe in the Trinity.
8. By his own admission, Benny Hinn communicates with the dead. The Bible calls that necromancy and it is expressly forbidden. God killed King Saul for trying to communicate with Samuel the prophet.
9. There are many false teachers around today. They are all over radio and television.
I. THEIR ILLUSTRIOUS HERITAGE
1. A scribe was a public writer. In the OT, some scribes did secretarial work for the king, including writing his letters, drawing up his decrees, and managing his finances (cf. II Kings 12:10).
2. At a later period the scribes were involved with numbering the troops (Jer. 52:25). This responsibility might actually go back to an earlier time (cf. Judges 5:14).
3. King Hezekiah employed a group of men, whose work it was to put into writing what had been handed down orally (Proverbs 25:1).
4. In the time of Ezra, the responsibility of studying the law belonged to the priests. Ezra himself was a priest as well as a scribe (Ezra 7:1-10).
5. Eventually the title “scribe” no longer referred to an officer of the king’s court, but to a group of scholars who taught and interpreted the law.
6. In the NT, the scribes are seen as a powerful class, holding undisputed authority and supremacy over the people of Israel.
7. They were addressed as “Master,” and from this the title “rabbi” gradually developed (cf. Matt. 23:1-12).
II. THEIR STUBBORN IGNORANCE
1. Our Lord answered all of their questions and now it was His turn to ask a question (Mark 12:35).
2. D Edmond Hiebert said, “With His question concerning Messiah’s sonship, He exposed the inadequacy of the scribes as teachers (vss. 35-37) and then uttered His solemn condemnation of their conduct (vss. 38-40).”
3. Our Lord referred to Psalm 110:1, a Messianic psalm which is quoted several times in the NT (Mark 12:36; cf. Matthew 22:44; Luke 20:42, 43; Acts 2:34, 35; Heb. 1:13; 10:13).
4. Mark 12:36 says, “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost…” This reminds us that all Scripture is inspired by God.
5. The scribes and Pharisees did not believe that Psalm 110 referred to Jesus. Perhaps they thought our Lord’s question was an easy one – they all knew that the Christ (Messiah) would be the son of David (Mark 12:35).
6. “David therefore himself calleth Him Lord; and whence is he then His son?” (12:37). In other words, how could David call his son “Lord”?
7. How could David speak of the expected Messiah as both human (the Messiah would be the son of David) and divine (Lord)?
8. The only logical answer to this question is the virgin birth. But the Pharisees would not accept that. They had already called our Lord illegitimate, and they did not believe He was the Messiah (cf. John 8:41, 48).
9. Our Lord’s question reminds us that the Old Testament teaches the deity of Christ (cf. Isa. 9:6).
10. So this ended the verbal clash between our Lord and the religious leaders. W. Graham Scroggie said: “Nothing is so contemptible as proud ignorance.”
11. The religious hypocrites were proud, and they were ignorant, and therefore they were contemptible. They did not respond to our Lord’s question, and they made no more verbal attacks after this point.
12. They were already determined to have Him killed. They could not answer Him so they quietly went forward with their plans to have Him killed (cf. Mark 14:1, 2, 10, 11)
III. THEIR DAMNABLE HYPOCRISY (MARK 12:38; cf. 12:15)
1. The word “damnable” means “detestable” or “deserving damnation.”
2. Second Peter 2:1 refers to “false teachers” who privily “bring in damnable heresies.”
3. We should note that our Lord’s advice to beware was not a private warning for the benefit of the disciples. Luke 20:45 says, “Then in the audience of all the people…”
4. To appreciate this warning it would be wise to study Matthew 23. Mark and Luke’s accounts are very brief compared to Matthew 23.
5. In Matthew 23, and here in Mark 12:38-40, we read our Lord’s scathing denunciation of these religious hypocrites who had been hounding Him for three years.
6. In these passages, we see that our Lord rejected rabbinic Judaism. Pharisaism is particularly prevalent among the Orthodox Jews, but all rabbinic Judaism is based upon a rejection of Christ and is therefore under the curse of God.
7. We should not limit our Lord’s rebuke to Judaism. HA Ironside said, “Who can fail to see in all this, the pretentiousness of clericalism?”
8. As we consider their hypocrisy, we should note our Lord is condemning all false religion.
9. Open up the Yellow Pages and turn to “churches.” You will find hundreds of religions, cults, and strange off-the-wall “churches.” New ones open up every day. This warning – “Beware” – applies to them as well.
10. One of the marks of Pharisaism is externalism (Mark 12:38, 39). Baptist churches have to be on guard against Pharisaism. Let’s make sure we are right on the inside as well as the outside.
11. Let us make up our minds that we will stick with the Bible and only the Bible. Because one of the marks of Pharisaism is adding to the Bible (cf. Mark 7:1-13).
12. Religious hypocrisy has sent more people to hell than anything else (Mark 12:40; cf. Matt. 23:14, 15, 33).
13. False teachers hide their covetousness under a pretense of piety (Mark 12:40).
14. Mark 12:40 teaches different degrees of punishment in hell (cf. Matt. 11:23, 24; Luke 12:46-48).
15. The devil is very religious. Second Corinthians 11:14 says Satan transforms himself into “an angel of light.”
16. Hell is full of religious people. Just think of these Muslim “suicide-bombers.” They actually believe they are going to heaven and they refer to themselves as “martyrs.”
17. Think of the billions of religious people (Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, JW’s, and others) who are blinded by Satan.
18. Unregenerate religionists tend to be very hypocritical. Over and over our Lord denounces the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees (Mark 12:38-40). It was their crowning sin (cf. Matt. 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29).
19. The scribes and Pharisees’ pride was also seen in the way they loved to be greeted in the markets (Mark 12:40). They loved “the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts” (Mark 12:39).
1. I read this interesting story in J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on Matthew 23: “Here we see the gentle Jesus using the harshest language that is in the entire Word of God. No prophet of the Old Testament denounced sin as the Lord Jesus denounces it. Here in southern California this section was called to the attention of a liberal preacher. He didn’t even know it was in the Bible – he had never read the Bible!”
2. This reminds me of the television interview Barbara Walters had with the disgraced TV preacher Jim Bakker. He admitted to her that he read the Bible for the first time while he was in jail.
3. And yet, even after reading the Bible for the first time, he still made no profession of being saved by the grace of God.
4. What a shock it must be for these unsaved preachers when they are cast off into hell!