Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Matthew 23:1-12


1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2 saying: ``The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4 ``They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling, to move them with so much as a finger. 5 ``But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 ``They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8 ``But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 ``Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 ``Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 ``But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 ``Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Remember that Jesus grew up in the Pharisaical culture of Judaism. He knew it well and is here beginning to point out the distortions.

The Pharisees did three things that were a constant distortion of following the Christ:

FIRST--They made religion a burden upon everyone! Their whole outlook on religion had one fundamental effect. It made it a thing of thousands upon thousands of rules and regulations; and therefore it made it an intolerable burden.

SECOND--They made religion into a show! The religion of the Pharisees became almost inevitably a religion of ostentation. If religion consists in obeying countless rules and regulations, it becomes easy for a man to see to it that everyone is aware how well he fulfills the regulations and how perfect is his piety. Jesus selects certain actions and customs in which the Pharisees showed their ostentation.

THIRD--They elevated one above another! They lifted up the "holy" ones who performed this externalism best. They graded totally on the curve.

Do you see any of these things going on today?

Jesus' classic statement, "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." Is forever true. Humble yourself and be exalted by God Himself or exalt yourself and be humbled by God Himself!