Today’s reading is drawn from Mark 12:13-40.
IN MARK 12, we run across several types of Jewish religious leaders, all taking their turns at trying to trap Jesus into saying something that they can use against Him: Pharisees in Mark 12:13-17, Sadducees in Mark 12:18-27, and one of the teachers of religious law in Mark 12:28-34. Of course, they all fail. Each of these types of religious leaders had its own specific types of rules, regulations, and ways of living. The problem is, these religious types didn’t vanish. Many of these people are sitting in the pews of churches today.
Are you a modern-day Pharisee—religious, legalistic, judgmental, opinionated, and harsh with those who don’t keep your rules? I have a good friend who is an elder in his church. He says, “My problem is that I’m a recovering Pharisee.” There’s an honest man. But maybe you’re not even “recovering.” Maybe you don’t even realize your pharisaic tendencies at all. The fact is that you may still be lost. You’ve got all these things you’re keeping, all this stuff you’re proud of, all these people you’re judging. You don’t miss a meeting, and you don’t miss a chance to refer to your righteousness (or at least hint about it), talk about how often you pray, explain why you pray, and on and on and on. You can be full of religion but still lost. When we come to Jesus, we drop all that garbage, and we realize that there’s nothing in our hands we can bring—there’s only a cross we can cling to.
Maybe you’re a modern-day Sadducee. See if this description fits: You look like you’re interested in religion, but you’re really interested in politics. You’re impressed with the teachings of Jesus, but you’re humanistic. You’re somewhat religious, but you’re more sophisticated. You may be wealthy. Maybe you’ve grown up in a church, but you’re not really all that sure about the devil and the demons and all that life-after-death stuff. You’re far more concerned about your position, your wealth, your possessions. If you’re a Sadducee, you’re also lost.
Of all these types, the people I’m most concerned about are the modern-day “teachers of religious law,” the modern-day scribes. You may have studied theology. You may have heard about grace or even taught about grace. Folks might think you’re a faithful follower. You’re sensible. You’re intelligent. You’re not far from the Kingdom, but you’re not there yet either. Make sure that you don’t let your study of the details of theology replace your need to submit to the Lord Jesus by faith. Those who fall into this category, like modern-day Pharisees and Sadducees, are lost.
I fear for you if you are anywhere on this list, because none of us know what a day will bring forth (see Prov. 27:1). Today is the day, my friends, to find Jesus. Quit fighting Him. Quit thinking you’ve got plenty of time. Quit thinking you’re bulletproof.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). Find your peace in your relationship with Him. He’s the only One who can forgive you—and He will. He’s the only One who can provide goodness and mercy all the rest of the days of your life—and He will. But you must come to Him. Come.
[call out text: These religious types didn’t vanish. Many of these people are sitting in the pews of churches today.]