The Eternal Pathway of Love
Yeshua ends chapter 12 with two examples. The first one is about those who were expected to follow and teach the pathway of love but completely missed it. The second is about one person who completely fulfills it, a poor widow, perhaps one who paid attention to the truth in the Scriptures.
The first example is found in vs.38-40, In His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the marketplaces, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”
This saying brought many to say that Yeshua’s words were anti-Jewish, but on the contrary, they were full of love for the Jewish people as it points out that they were responsible for their own fall.
The problem is that many today define Jewishness by their religious leaders, but the sad irony in the history of the Jews is that, while many religious leaders were used of God to lead His people, many others were nevertheless in the forefront of the cause of the fall of the nation of God. Instead of reflecting God’s love to the people, these were lovers of a few things: their own long and imposing robes. They loved the greetings and to be always lifted up in the eyes of the people. They loved the choice of seats in synagogues.
Stealing from the Vulnerable
And in pretending holiness, they will pray publicly with long prayers; the longer it is the more holy they appear. Yet read Matthew 6:7 and discover how important few words can also be. Furthermore, they stole from the widows; why the widows? Surely because they were easy prey. It says that they devour their houses. Because they were scribes, this may have reference to passing a false judgment on the widow’s inheritance from her husband; but little did they know that throughout the Mosaic Law, these widows had a very special place in the heart of God and here He calls on them.
The last we heard of this word devour was when the birds, symbolizing Satan, devoured the Word from the people. Jesus says, these will receive grater condemnation, that is in the eternal state. Notice that the word for robe is one that was worn by the priests. This is the Greek word the Septuagint uses for the Old Testament priest. That is one indication which tells us that many of these scribes were Levites and not necessarily Sadducees.
And what Yeshua is saying here has been echoed by others in the first century, especially in the Dead Sea Scrolls where the Essenes were criticizing the corrupted priests. Josephus also tells us that when some priest would not get their donation, they would send some bullies to beat up the guy. He wrote that these took away the tithes that belonged to the priests by violence and did not refrain from beating such as would not give these tithes to them. Ant. 20:206.
And here we have a widow who the wicked priests might have well taken advantage of. This was the second woman, both widows who we meet at the Temple; the first one was Anna, we are told that she never left the temple, serving night and day with fasting and prayers and here is a second widow, who gave the best she had (Luke 2:38).
And if Yeshua ends this chapter with the mention of this widow, it is because He identified with her, for He also gave all that He has for our salvation. As we are told in 2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
That is the story of the Eternal Pathway of Love.