In Mark 12:35-40, we read that Jesus was teaching in the Temple Courts, and asked, “How is it that Teachers of the Law say that ‘The Christ is the Son of David’? David Himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ David himself calls Him ‘Lord’. How then can he be his son?” The crowd listened to Him with delight. “Watch out for the Teachers of the Law, for they like to walk around in flowing robes, be greeted in the marketplace, have the most important seats in the Synagogue and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows houses and pray lengthy prayers for show. Such men will be punished most severely.”
So Jesus goes and teaches in the temple courts and asks a question about what the Teachers of Religious Law (Scribes) teach: “How is it that the Christ is David’s Son?” It’s actually an interesting question when you compare it with the original scripture. Check this out:
The original passage, 2 Samuel 7:12B-16, says, “…I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom…” (NIV)
In the Hebrew, the word for “Offspring” is often translated as “Seed”. “Seed” or “Offspring”, not “Son”. Now, it’s said that often times, they would use the Septuagint, which was the Old Testament in Greek. So in the Greek, it says, τὸ σπέρμα σου “Your seed (offspring, descendant)”.
What that means then is that in Mark 12:35, the Greek confirms that Jesus claimed the Scribes used the word: υἱὸς (son) (the English also says “son”). In other words, the Scribes (Teachers of Religious Law) were claiming that the Messiah would be a SON of David, thus mistranslating the original scriptures. For God said that the Messiah would be a SEED of David…a descendant. Why does this make a difference? Because, theologically-speaking (as the Scribes were claiming to be doing), the Scribes should have realized this, especially since it’s clear that none of David’s direct children were the Messiah, that clearly the Messiah would not be one of David’s direct sons, but of his lineage. For:
- Though David’s Kingdom continued through Solomon, it went bankrupt during Solomon’s reign
- God was neither recognized nor acknowledged as Solomon’s Father
- Though Solomon built the Temple, it was also destroyed
- Solomon’s throne was not established forever, but split shortly after his death and later destroyed by Babylon.
So their theology (and logic) was off.
But I think the big point was that:
- They paraphrased, and even changed the Scripture
- They were teaching it incorrectly to others
- They were holding themselves high as ones who claimed to have known what they were talking about in their teachings. And this was their problem that Jesus had with them. And so when Jesus asked everybody about what they were teaching, He was explaining how messed up they were in their “knowledge” and theology…they just don’t make sense.
I’m sure we can all think of popular Ministers today who sound good, but if you actually look at the passage they read, and research what they said about it, it may not completely add up.
Let me give an example:
When my wife and I were searching for a church, we went to one church for 2 consecutive weeks, for the minister was preaching on a 2-part series about marriage. On the day of the first part, the Minister mentioned a passage from Genesis, but he said it incorrectly. This wouldn’t normally be all that big a deal, for many paraphrase a passage when they want to touch on or refer back to it, but he actually based the message of his series on his misreading of the passage! OK, so I figured, maybe he made the mistake this week, and next week, he’ll catch it. NOPE! The next week, while talking about the other gender’s role, he went back and misquoted the scripture AGAIN, also basing his conclusion on this passage, which he mis-read, mis-translated, and mis-taught on. After that, we never returned, and I refuse to listen to his programs on Christian radio stations. Why? Because even though he should have known better,
- He changed the scripture,
- He taught it incorrectly to others,
- When preaching, he continued to hold himself high as one who claims to know what he’s talking about.
So I understand why Jesus was upset at the Teachers of Religious Law when they were doing it, for I was upset at him when he was, also.
The Scribes also weren’t living out what they were teaching, nor were they paid a regular wage, so they were dependent upon the generosity of patrons for their livelihood. This is a dangerous system, for such always opens up doors for abuses. For instance, in the early days of Christianity in America, instead of serving a single church, Pastors often traveled around preaching at a different church each Sunday. They didn’t have a steady paycheck, and whether they got paid, or how much, depended on how much they pleased the rich folk who often sat in the front row. If they preached what they wanted to hear, or something that didn’t tell them they had to change…often a watered-down gospel that made the people feel good about themselves, they’d get paid a lot. But if they ruffled feathers, there was a chance they’d even be kicked out without any pay and forbidden from returning (or wouldn’t be asked back as often). So if they wanted to get paid, and paid a lot, they’d often appease to the rich people at the church. Today we see scholars, Pastors, Professors, Authors, etc, sometimes taking the high-seats, high paychecks, or expecting to be treated better than others (or like celebrities). But if they participated in what they taught, then they wouldn’t behave in such a manner. And especially since they’re teaching wrong doctrine, they’re in even more trouble.
Then we have those who may think they’re preaching the correct message, may actually believe they’re communicating the Truth, but are still a bit off track. But while this is occurring, they wear expensive clothing (and sometimes bling), enjoy being greeted in public with honor, take the high-seats in the church and at events, and reject correction. Unfortunately, these Pastors also often have big churches (though not always), are well respected and trusted by parishioners (or people who watch their broadcasts regularly), and often attract much attention to themselves for their “success”. For example, I once saw a Pastor of a mega-church on a TV clip. When responding to the host’s question, he responded that he was just telling him what the Bible said, and so it’s what he has to believe. Now, on this program, though he was being sort of attacked by the host on the particular topic which he obviously was not ready to take on, it was still interesting to hear, for in other interviews, he flat out described his beliefs as those in sync with the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. He has a huge mega-church built upon misinterpretation of the Bible, he neither has a seminary education nor theological training, and he rejects correction (for so many other Pastors, including myself, continue to point out where he continues to miss the mark). Yet, he believes his teachings are on track. This type of Minister/teacher is also dangerous, for he’s teaching what he believes is correct, but is in fact not, and many are believing him and his teachings, thus being led astray in their spirituality.
Both of these types, Jesus is saying to watch out for. The thing though is that it’s real easy to believe they’re telling the truth or preaching it correctly. Heck, you may even WANT to believe that what they’re talking about is right. And for somebody who neither reads the Bible, nor double checks what they just learned, as the Jews in Jesus’ day obviously did not, it’s very easy to become confused and/or be deceived.
If the Jews in Jesus’ day had known the scriptures, or at least had a better grasp on what the teachers of religious law were talking about, then they would have been able to recognize the mistake and correct them. Granted, the teachers may not have listened, but at least the people would know better and not fall into the pit (blind lead blind and they both fall into a pit). Similarly, if Christians today read their Bibles like they’re supposed to, and researched it for better understanding, then they too would not be able to be so easily deceived. Yes, those who teach such will be punished most severely, but do you really want to be among those who are led astray?
Do your research, read the Bible, double-check their (our) words, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.