Jesus was still on the Mount teaching, and in our two passages, we see two contrasting events through Jesus’ eyes, which should give us pause to consider how Jesus would assess us—our services, our worship, and our lives. In the pretentious scribes, Jesus saw some things to condemn, but in the poor widow, He found someone to commend.
When I was in my early 20s, I read the book Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis. As the title indicates, in this work Lewis tried to get to the core of Christianity, and I think he did a pretty good job. He laid a good foundation by outlining the key elements of the Christian faith. To do this, he wrote a small book of 190 pages; however, Jesus distilled all of the Law and the Prophets into only two sentences.
Mark is warning believers to remember that God’s Word is God’s Word, and nothing that deviates from or violates the Word of God is from God. To put the commandments of men, the teaching of infidels, or policies of political parties ahead of God’s Word exposes people for what they really are. They can claim to be devout Christians, but Jesus said they are hypocrites.
If I walk into the ring and knock out the champ, what does that make me? Well Jesus was pounding Satan into the mat with every miracle, every deliverance, every healing, and every word. If Satan was the strong man, then Jesus is Messiah, Son of God, God incarnate. Why weren’t the Pharisees, the priests, or the scribes defeating Satan? They couldn’t because they were more committed to their religion than they were to the truth.
Once people realized how special Jesus was, everywhere Jesus went the people crowded around Him. Eventually some of the religious elites began to worry that Jesus might challenge their positions or their authority, so they also began to show up in order to critique and criticize Jesus. They were constantly watching with a critical eye and listening for something with which to accuse Jesus of, such as, fraud or blasphemy. Sadly, in process of their criticism, they likely deprived themselves of the ministry that could have been for them. People who come to church only to pick apart the sermon and criticize the preacher are rarely blessed.