Devotion for December 13, 2023

“As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces.'” (Mark 12:38)

Jesus wants his disciples to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). That is, he wants to free us from naivety concerning those who would deceive us and give us a life marked by his own truthfulness and honesty. The good news is that, as we receive Jesus’ word, he grows us in maturity and discernment.

In today’s reading, we hear Jesus while teaching in the temple. As he teaches, the large crowd is listening to him with delight. As part of his teaching, Jesus gives a warning concerning the scribes — the educated class of men who were socially honored and liked to enhance their status through the clothes they wore, the greetings they received, and the places of honor they took at banquets.

Now, as it happens, Jesus was evidently not opposed in principle to people having honored roles or even wearing special clothes as part of the worship of God. Jesus did not criticize the priests for the robes and other vestments they wore as part of their role in the temple — after all, the priests had a calling from God, who had given commands concerning what they were to wear as they served (see, for example, Exodus 28:1–5).

But Jesus did warn us to beware of those who seek for themselves the benefits of status and put on their own shows of piety to make the vulnerable trust them — especially with their money. Jesus wants us to understand that not all people who act in apparently godly ways have God’s approval. On the contrary, Jesus assures us that those who use God’s name to exploit the vulnerable will receive the greater condemnation from God.

Unlike those who deceive for gain, Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Listen to your Servant King, and he will give you his Spirit of wisdom.

Prayer

Lord, fill me with Your Spirit so that I can serve others, and let my actions bring glory to Your name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay encouraged!

Pastor Mike

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Pastor Bailey
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