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.
The scriptures are and have always been good! They reveal who God is and teach how to live God’s ways. They are a guide for living as God’s creation, as God’s people in relationship with God and with one another, in this amazing world. Matthew is careful to emphasise this point before criticising the religious leaders of his day, as he wants those who follow him to love the scriptures and understand them.
This message, although aimed at the people of the day, continues to offer us lessons to live by. Let’s do our best not to be like the religious rulers of Jesus Day. They were hypocrites! They taught the scriptures but did not follow the teachings of God. They were full of pride, obsessed with image, and looking for praise. Everything they did was for show (v5). When we consider the social media age in which we live, there is a strong obsession with image. We need to be careful not to get caught up in this! Jesus cares about our character and the way we treat others much more than how we are seen! If our broadcasting could be hurting others, perhaps by giving them a false sense of what they need to do to be loved, then we ought to change what we do in this space. If our pride at work has led us to bring another person down, then we should check ourselves and ask for forgiveness from both God and the person we hurt.
Jesus encourages the people then, and us now, to be loving and humble (v 11), not mean and crush others (v4). We are to follow God’s ways, acknowledging God as Father. To do as Jesus did and taught. To really care for others, as we lead them, in whichever place we have influence. Be that online, at home, our workplace, sports club, or church. And in doing so, point them back to Jesus – the Master of living out God’s upside-down Kingdom. “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (v12).
Dear Jesus, please show us today where we have let pride take over. Forgive us and help us to make amends with those we may have hurt. Jesus you are our great example! Help us to become more like you and live with humility, grace, and love towards others, putting them first. Amen
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart