Scribes, in Biblical times, were not simply people who wrote things down, but they were also responsible for teaching on what they were writing. In other words, whenever we read about “Teachers of the Law”, such were also known as “Scribes”. So they didn’t just write things down, they also studied, learned, memorized, and taught the Scriptures and Mosaic Law.
Now, I’d like to point out that in Jesus’ previous encounter with the Teacher, there was indeed a power struggle, but no mutual respect in the end. So here in Mark 12:35-44 (Part 2), the Teacher jumped into a debate and asked Jesus a question. I don’t know his intentions, for such isn’t revealed in the Scripture, but he was asking as one testing Jesus’ knowledge of the Law. And when Jesus answered correctly, the Teacher approved of His answer, although attempting to praise himself higher by changing Jesus’ answer (correcting Him) and by congratulating Him on a good answer. So in the end, the teacher still neither humbled himself nor recognized Jesus’ authority.
So then, Jesus goes and teaches in the temple courts and asks a Question about what the Teachers of the Law (Scribes), teach.
“How is it that the Christ is David’s Son?” (Greek also says “Son”)
- Hebrew = “Seed / offspring”
- Greek = (σπέρμα) “Your seed / offspring / descendant”
- Greek = (υἱὸς) “Son”
- English = (Son) “Son”
- (NKJV) = “The fruit of your body”
- (NRSV) = (a son from your body)
So in other words, the Scribes were claiming that the Christ would be a son of David…mistranslated from the original scriptures. But God said it would be a seed of David…a descendant. Theologically-speaking, the Scribes should have realized this, since it’s clear that none of David’s direct children were the Messiah.
David’s Kingdom continued through Solomon:
- Yet, it went bankrupt during Solomon’s reign
- God was neither recognized nor acknowledged as Solomon’s God
- Though Solomon built the Temple, it was also destroyed
- Solomon’s throne was not established forever, but:
- Even split shortly after his death
- Was destroyed by Babylon
Sins of the Scribes:
- Their theology (and logic) was off
But I think the big point was that they paraphrased, even changed the scripture, even teaching it incorrectly to others and holding themselves high. 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 the Teachers of the Law were in their “knowledge” and theology…they just don’t make sense.
- The Scribes also weren’t living out what they were teaching.
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.
- They were cheating people out of their money (:40)
Scribes were not paid a regular wage, so they were dependent on the generosity of patrons for their livelihood. Such a system, however, was open to abuses (like Pastors who preach what people want to hear so they’ll be paid), and widows were especially vulnerable to exploitation, which brings us to the widow’s offering.
The Widow’s Offering:
I must admit, it’s really neat for me to read about how Jesus segued into His next teaching. Mark said that Jesus then basically walked over to the other side of the tithing-room, sat down, and observed–He observed the people giving their treasures/tithes to the Temple. There may have been a line, as many pictures portray, or He may have been there awhile, watching as people came and went. Either way, it says He just sat there and observed.
Jesus saw many rich people put in huge percentages of their great wealth. It’s good to see the rich people even tithed large amounts. The idea given though was that, when compared to the widow, they gave a little bit of what they had, while the widow gave all she had. They may have seen their tithes as an obligation, a religious act, or a means of helping out. Either way, the point is that they had more money at home to live on, whereas the widow gave every last little bit she had…nothing was left at home.
The point isn’t how much money they gave, but how much of themselves in their givings. The rich had a lot and gave some, but the widow had a little and gave all. Again though, this is not saying that we should give all our money to the Church, but that we should give our all to God. It takes a lot of faith and trust in God to give Him everything. But again, that’s what we’re called and required to do, and the Scribes were far from doing so.