Playing The Part
Mark 12:38-40 (ESV) — And in His teaching he said: “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and like greetings in the marketplaces and have 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.”
Actors have the difficult job of pretending to be other people. They have to act out experiences of joy, pain, sorrow, and anger in front of audiences or cameras that aren’t real. The job of an actor is to portray real life emotions and experiences in the performance they are giving in order to give believability and authenticity to the show or movie.
Nobody watching a movie or show is under the impression that any of these actors are playing out their real selves. We know because of the context of what we are doing that we are experiencing something imitating real life, instead of actually being real. This was the problem Jesus addressed with the religious leaders of His day. We see Jesus deliver some devastating remarks in Mark 12:38-40. He says, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and like greetings in the marketplaces and have 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.”
The religious leaders "played the part." This means they walked through the motions and words of a true practitioner of the faith, but, in reality, they only wanted people’s applause and approval. They prayed for attention. They sat in the seats of honor for attention. Widows were taken advantage of. Even their prayers were for show. They were actors. It is easy to criticize them for their pretentious behavior and showmanship. We can discuss their hypocrisy because it isn’t pointing at us. But we need to examine our own hearts to understand the temptation facing each of us to do the same. Playing the part is easier than truly following Jesus. Going through the religious motions is easier than seeking God’s face with a sincere heart. Examine yourself today and seek the Lord with sincerity of heart.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why is it easy for people to go through the religious motions instead of truly seeking God?
- What are some examples of “faking it” that people can do today?
- How can we guard our own heart from hypocrisy and avoid the temptation of faking it?
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