When Jesus says “Beware!” … BEWARE!

Whenever the Bible urges us to “beware” – we should BEWARE!

This is the “beware” I read this morning in my Bible during my time of “Coffee with the Lord”…

“And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’”  (Luke 20:45–47 ESV)

First of all, let me remind you this is warning from the mouth of Jesus, so it packs some significant authority and expresses His deep concern for people.  And notice who hears His warning – who is the focus of His concern… He said this “in the hearing of ALL the people” and spoke it directly “to his disciples.”  His concern was the spiritual welfare of ordinary people (the crowd), as well as those who were his devoted followers.

His warning?  “Beware of the ‘scribes!’”  Now according to Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, the “scribes” were “a class of scholars who taught, copied, and interpreted the Jewish Law for the Jewish people.  In the Gospels they appear primarily as opponents of Jesus.”  In other words, they were Bible scholars – religious leaders that the general Jewish population looked up to – they knew the Old Testament inside out and scrupulously copied every word of it.

Now, I know many wonderful, godly Bible scholars (I even happen to have served as a professor of Biblical studies at a Christian university for many years).  But not all of them are “true-blue” to what the Bible teaches… Not all of them are reliable spiritual guides who evidence spiritual integrity… Not all of them practice what they preach (and teach)… Some of them (and I hate to use the word, but I must) are “dirty hypocrites” (there I said it).  And some of the “scribes” of Jesus’ day were just like that as well…

And the Message, the Bible paraphrased by Eugene Peterson, does a really good job of capturing the force of Jesus’ warning for us today… Here it is…

“With everybody listening, Jesus spoke to his disciples.  ‘Watch out for the religion scholars! They love to walk around in their academic gowns, preening in the radiance of public flattery, basking in prominent positions, sitting at the head table at every church function.  And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end!’”

Hey, nothing has changed!  So my advice is, do exactly  what Jesus said… “BEWARE!”  Now don’t throw all of us “profs” and “church leaders” into the same bucket – but “beware!”  Some are “hypocrites” – don’t follow them or embrace their teaching.  There’s something else in the Bible about this as I recall – something that Jesus said…

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit!  Each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil.”  (Luke 6:43–45 ESV)

Hey, just say’n… “Beware!”  Better yet, not me say’n it – Jesus say’n it… “BEWARE!”

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