Matthew 23:1-12 (NIV)
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. 8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23 leaves no mystery why the religious leaders wanted to crucify Jesus. Speaking to the crowds, Jesus warns us not to live a life of hypocrisy. It’s Jesus’ final message to the Jews in the temple area during Passion week. His teaching is pointed straight at the teachers of the law and Pharisees, and boy are they not happy with that! Fortunately, we can learn so much from this passage.
Jesus boldly teaches about being authentic and having integrity by practising what you preach. Whether it was praying, fasting, or washing feet, Jesus was always the prime example to others. It’s no wonder he has such cutting words to the teachers of the law and Pharisees!
Jesus guides us in acting with humility by not making a big show of our faith or wanting things that the world deems significant: places of honour, important seats, or fancy titles. We know our work for the Lord, and He sees all we do. We are only acting in our self-interests when we act in a way for people to see.
We need to ensure we live by God’s authority and not human authority. It is how we can avoid a life of hypocrisy and strive for authenticity, integrity, and humility.
Dear Lord, we thank you that we are all brothers and sisters in you. Thank you, Jesus, for your teachings and sacrifice. Please help us live a life full of authenticity, integrity, and humility. Lord, fill our hearts with love for you and our neighbours. May we avoid the selfish desires of our hearts and seek your way, Jesus. In your precious name, Jesus.
Written by Sven Bessesen