23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,
23:2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat;
23:3 therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.
23:4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.
23:5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.
23:6 They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues,
23:7 and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi.
23:8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students.
23:9 And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father–the one in heaven.
23:10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah.
23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant.
23:12 All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Jesus had harsh words for the pharisees who were more interested in vanity than actually honoring God. They displayed pious behavior in public and exaggerated their religious devotion to make people think they were leaders sent by God. Jesus wanted different behavior all-together. He wanted humility and authenticity. He wanted Christians who were interested in being servants not leaders.
As Christians our job is not to look or appear religious, it’s to do the work of Jesus. Anyone who thinks they are better than anyone else is only fooling themselves. The first will be last in the kingdom of God. The meek shall inherit the earth and God will lift up the humble. Do not let the vanity of this world block you or trick you into missing out on what Jesus is calling you to.
Humility is not something that comes naturally in the Christian life. Jesus wanted to emphasize the point that despite your position in life, it does not give you the right to brag and put yourself above others. There were religious leaders during this time that thought themselves to be incredibly knowledgeable and at a higher ranking then the rest of society. They deemed themselves to be worthy of being able to teach things about God and wanted recognition from others around them.
This is precisely what Jesus was teaching against. Jesus is the ultimate source of wisdom and He is the one teacher that we can learn from in how to live our lives. As Christians we are not go around bragging about how much we think we know about the Bible, doctrine or theology. Each time we speak about Christ and His word we are to point the Glory back to Him and allow for others to see that it is Christ, not our own words, who is at the heart of the Gospel.
[Featured image from carolinasnalc.org]