Message: In Mark 12 I found myself frustrated with the questions being asked of Jesus. Not because they were bad questions but because the intent behind their questions was not genuine. They were testing Jesus in the hopes of finding error and fault in him. It also occurred to me that those who were trying so hard to test Jesus had their own motives to justify things in their own belief systems. They had built a structure of beliefs of their own by using the commands of God to appear religious or obedient, but then manipulating them to serve their own interests. In verse 38 Jesus told them to “beware of the scribes who want to go around in long robes and who want greetings in the marketplace and the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows and say long prayers for show. These will receive harsher punishment.”
Command: Obey God out of a genuine heart, and don’t try to manipulate things to justify selfish desires and motives.
Promise: God sees the intent of the heart. Just like he knows when our motives are impure, he also sees when we are following him and obeying him out of a pure and honest heart.
Warning: You can’t fool God! Just like Jesus saw throughthe scribes in their long robes and religion, he sees through our attempts to create our own loopholes of justification. A false appearance of obedience might fool people but it does not fool God.
Application: Before we lie to anyone else, we first have to lie to ourselves. When we are tempted to be disobedient we run a narrative in our minds in order to justify it. If we lie to ourselves long enough we actually believe it. We not only believe the lie, but we reject any kind of truth that serves to expose the lie we are fighting so hard to protect. Lord please expose the lies in my own heart that I have used as a justification for disobedience. Bring the truth to light so that I won’t live in a state of deception.