Beware. We expect to see this warning in certain places: on yellow signs above wet floors, on electrical boxes, on fences outside of certain homes. We don’t expect to see it on the doors of religious institutions. But this is what Jesus says to the scribes: Beware.
The teachers of the law wanted to be recognized. They coveted the honor and the respect that they received when they were out in the marketplace, or in the synagogue, or at banquets. These were the ones who oversaw the religious institution. They were the men responsible for carrying out the law and helping others to do the same. They were also, however, the men responsible for ensuring the care of the widows, orphans, and immigrants.
Later, Jesus will warn that their religious institution will be completely destroyed, with not one stone left on another. And he will call it a den of robbers because it no longer cares for the marginalized of society, as Yahweh commands that it do.
Why does he say this? Because when we glance ahead we see that there in the temple treasury is a widow, giving all that she has to an institution that has nothing to offer her, an institution that is supposed to care for her, and one that exists to do so. She will give all that she has, though it does not deserve her gift. It is already condemned. It will be abolished.
Jesus comes to save, not to destroy, and the church, the body of Christ, exists to share this love of God with the world. We can still heed the warning Jesus offers. Through God’s Spirit we can still care for the marginalized as we are called to do.
God asks us to love and care for God’s children. What are some ways that you could better receive those whom God places in your life?
God, as your body—your hands and feet—may we come together and lose our lives to that which the world deems unworthy. Amen.