Tuesday 02 March 2010

Bible Book:

"All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." (v.12)

Matthew 23:1-12 Tuesday 2 March 2010


"Do as I say, not as I do." Many of us will know people whoselives seem to be lived on this principle, expressing plenty ofopinions on how others should act but without applying any of themto themselves. In this passage we have Jesus describing thePharisees (the Jewish scholars who advocated a strict adherence toMoses' Law) in these kind of terms. Everything is about being seendoing the right things in the right places.

In Deuteronomy 6:8 the Israelites are told tobind God's words on their hands and foreheads, and the Phariseesdid this literally by wearing phylacteries, small leather boxescontaining scripture on their foreheads and left arms. Theimplication however, is that by making their phylacteries biggerthan other people's, they are more interested in drawing otherpeople's attention to their piety than they are in absorbing thewords they are wearing. Likewise, inNumbers 15:38-39 the Israelites arecommanded to wear four tassels on their clothes to remind them ofthe commandments, but different schools of Pharisees wore them atdifferent lengths, drawing attention to things other than thecommandments they were supposed to remember.

So can the Pharisees be ignored as hypocrites? Jesus says no. Theyare still the people trusted to teach God's law, and as such theyshould be listened to and followed, despite their seeming inabilityto take their own advice. What is important is not the outwardappearance but the truth that is being proclaimed.

Many times in the Gospels it seems that Jesus is turning upsidedown the way the world looks at things, and here is no exception,with the great being servants and the humble exalted. Here perhapsis a suggestion that the Pharisees will not stay in theirsought-after places forever: as those who love to exalt themselvesa humbling is surely awaiting them. Will the same be true forus?

To Ponder

Do you expect Church leaders to live out whatthey preach? To what extent would you still listen to them if theirlives contradicted their words?

How does the way you live match the words yousay?

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