Nov. 30, 2004
“1 Then spoke Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” (Matthew 23:1-7)
And during the two thousand plus years since Jesus spoke those words, men haven’t changed one bit.
Civilized people understand the direction of law and the morality behind religious faith. It is comical how many times the adage: “Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!” is proven true when ordinary people are given extra-ordinary authority.
In the days of Jesus, the spiritual voice of the people was that of the Pharisees. The voice of law was in the authority of the Sadducees. These groups of men derived their authority from the writings of the Prophets and from the Law of Moses.
The last true Prophet of God, Malachi, had been buried some 400 years prior to Jesus taking up his ministry. During those 400 years between Malachi and Jesus, one group of religionists after another took it upon themselves to rewrite the Law of Moses into a massive tome of man made ordinances and dogma that was indistinguishable from the original intent of the Commandments given to Moses at Sinai.
Jesus told the people early in his ministry that he had not come to destroy, but to fulfill the law and the words of the Prophets (Mt. 5:17). He spent the three years of his ministry first, dispelling the inaccuracies of 400 years of Rabbinical invention, so that he was able to show the people the true essence of the law.
In the scripture above, Jesus is telling the people that he understood their dilemma. Those in power had the rule of law. They would read it, interpret it and then demand obedience to it. Did the people in authority follow the law themselves? No. Therefore Jesus’ warning against “doing” what those in authority were doing.
All the major religions of the world are guilty of the same hypocrisy. They tie heavy loads on the backs of their adherents while the hierarchy skates on the proceeds.
I believe the one time Jesus asked for a coin, it was found in the mouth of a fish. After Jesus taught his lesson concerning money, the coin was given to the Caesar to whom it belonged.
Well, here in Matthew Chapter 23, we find a Jesus who is anything but complimentary toward those who would choose to mislead the people and set themselves on their own pedestals.
“8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8-12)
There are many men on the earth who demand they be looked at. They will tell us that they hold the power of life and death. The will tell us that we must do what they tell us to do, not because it is especially right; but because it is they who are telling us what to do.
But there are also groups of men on earth who know what a hypocrite is. Men who belong to these groups have been warned to watch the hypocrites and to do what they say. The assumption is that the hypocrites, having the power, also have the authority of law to support their demands. Yet, these groups of men who watch the hypocrites are never to “do” what the hypocrites do.
Jesus pronounces some pretty specific “woes” against the religionists and lawmakers of his day. We shall look at each of these in turn.
NEXT: Heaven’s Gate Keeping Hypocrites
About the Author: Michael John McCrae is just a guy with an opinion and a desire to express it.
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