Mark 12:38-44

Talks for Growing Christians

Contrasting the Hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees and the Humility of the Poor, but Generous Widow

Mark 12:38-44

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Lesson Number 53

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. There are degrees of punishment in hell.
  2. God is more interested in the how than in the how much.

Practical Application

  1. Let's not be like the scribes and Pharisees.
  2. God looks at how much we have left.


  1. What does the Lord tell those to whom He is speaking? Why does He tell them this?
  2. Why were the Jews told to wear fringe and tassels on their garments? How did they abuse this order of God?
  3. How were the scribes paid for their work? How did they abuse this privilege?
  4. Are there degrees of punishment in hell?
  5. God is more interested in the "how" than in the "how much." Explain.
  6. God looks at how much we have left. What does this mean?


  1. He tells them to beware of the scribes and Pharisees, because they are self-righteous hypocrites. They loved to look and sound pious, but it was for show.
  2. See Numbers 15:38-40. They made the fringe and tassels obvious to draw attention to themselves. They loved the greetings in the market place, and their prominent place in the temple.
  3. They were not paid, per se, for their work in interpreting the Scriptures. But, as the lawyers of their day, they would depend on the generosity of the devout Jews for support. With clever legal maneuvering and manipulation they took advantage of the common people and exploited the poor. In some cases, they forced widows out of their houses for their own financial gain.
  4. Yes. Read Mark 12:40 and Matthew 11:20-24.
  5. As the Lord watched people putting money into the treasury, He saw a lot of money going in. He didn't condemn big givers, but He took special note of the poor widow. How a person gives is more important than what he gives. The widow gave sacrificially, in faith, trusting the Lord to meet her needs, for she put in all her living expenses.
  6. The widow gave all that she had, whereas the rich had a lot left. The Lord looks at what we have left, or what we keep for ourselves.


  1. Do you believe in a literal heaven and a literal hell? Do you believe that there will be degrees of rewards in heaven and degrees of punishment in hell? On what do you base your answers?
  2. Have you ever been caught up in loving the attention of people?


  1. How do you determine what to give to the Lord? Do you believe that your giving honors Him? Have you ever been convicted about giving more? Do you give sacrificially, depriving yourself? When you give more of your income and yourself to the Lord's work, what is the outcome?

Key Verses

  • "The Lord said to His disciples, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood." (Mark 12:43-44)

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