Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do as they teach, but not as they do

Matthew 23:1-12 (ESV)
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, [2] "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, [3] so practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. [4] They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. [5] They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, [6] and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues [7] and greetings in the marketplaces and being 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 call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. [10] Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. [11] The greatest among you shall be your servant. [12] Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

There is a lot to chew on in this passage. Practice and observe what they tell you-but do not what they do. Parents use that line… Were all sinners, and often it is just easier to teach rather than do. Jesus doesn’t have anything against the law the Pharisees teach, but the teachers teach more with their actions, and those are not good. So knock yourself out. Practice and observe, but the burden of the law is hard to bear, at that time it is best to let Christ take it.
Too often this is the problem in the church today. People read passages like the one above as if it was all Christ had to say. They then think the problem was that the Pharisees weren’t practicing what they preached. They then practice what they preach…. No they don’t, but they make great pretense of it. And they lay heavy burden’s on the souls of others, and never do anything to lift them. That is the problem of the Pharisees. They aren’t willing to move the burdens with their fingers. Christ moved the burden, he carried it for us, He took it to the grave and buried it so that it would not need to be carried anymore. He forgave our sins.
I do caution, that people read the second part of this passage a bit to simply at times, all these things about Rabbi, Instructor, or Father. If pastor was in common usage at this time, he would have thrown that term in too. Of course no one objects that we call our dad’s father. But when the guy has a black shirt with a white tab on its collar somehow it is forbidden. Paul tells the Corinthians that he is their spiritual Father, I do not think Paul was thereby sinning. Jesus was called Rabbi many times. But this is all about the arrogance that can often go along with such titles, he is cautioning them against this, we are all brothers. But arrogance takes many forms, and attaches itself to many a proper title. Yes, Proper titles. It is proper to be known by the title, it is a show of respect to address someone by their title, as much as it is at times, humbling to accept the title. But all of this comes under the don’t lord it over others. It can be just as arrogant to refuse to be known by the title, and not just a bit na├»ve.