Read MARK 12:35– 40
35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’
37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”
The large crowd listened to him with delight.
Warning Against the Teachers of the Law
38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). We need to be thankful for the untainted life of Jesus, lived for us.
Jesus issues two stark warnings in this section: one about false or incorrect teaching and another about hypocritical behavior. These apply to every Christian but they have particular application to leaders, especially teachers. It is “teachers of the law” (35,38) who are the focus for Jesus: the expectation of such leaders is that they should be dependable sources of sound teaching and models of godly behavior.
Leaders who are teachers need to work hard at understanding and communicating the truth (2 Tim. 4:2). Partial understanding is not adequate. At first sight these teachers seem to have gotten it right. They recognize the Messiah as a descendent of David, his “son” (35). Where they fall short, though, is in failing to grant the Messiah his place as greater than David. In fact, as Psalm 110 clearly shows, the Messiah is David’s Lord; the Son of God rather than the son of a mere man, however great. Anything that detracts from Jesus, the one exalted to the right hand of God and divine ruler, is to be rejected.
Leaders rightly have their behavior held under greater scrutiny—and that against the background that leaders often face greater temptation. People in power can all too easily begin to enjoy and even abuse the benefits of
their power. The teachers of the law are not alone in creating a striking image that draws attention to themselves (38), wallowing in subservient behavior around them (38), indulging in an expectation of VIP status (39) or preying on the weak (40); all the while praying as if they could teach the Lord a thing or two (40). Beware the entrapments of status in leadership. Like false teaching, it diminishes Jesus and brings judgment on us.
Using this passage, give some thought to your leaders and for your own leadership. Is your leadership marked by “Godly ambition”? If not, what changes should you make?