”While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples,46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Luke 20.45-47
Jesus was not complimentary of the Jewish teachers of the law. He insults them often and with great skill! He shared these words with his disciples as he spoke about the religious leaders. And he holds nothing back. He talks about their flowing robes, their best seats in the synagogues, how they devour widows houses and for show make lengthy prayers. Then he adds that “these men will be punished most severely.”
There is no doubt about it, Jesus throws shade on the religious elite and he doesn’t apologize for it. He calls them out for exactly what they are doing with no regret or no remorse. For what he says about them is truth. They were so caught up in their fame, fortune and religiosity that they forgot how to minister to the people and before the Lord.
Now each generation has folks like this. Those who are the religious elite always think it’s someone else, I guess that’s how it works! But aren’t we all guilty to some extent? Are we caught up in titles, salaries, power and prestige? Our nation offers the lure of money, lust and influence which if not taken seriously, can destroy even the best ministry intentions.
There is no doubt that the truth Jesus spoke then applies to us today. If we have avoided the fame and fortune as Christians and ministers, and how do we know if we have completely, there are others who have not. Others who use the church for their influence and Christ for their gain. Should we speak out against them as well? Do we need to take the plank out of our own eye before removing the speck in others?
Self-examination is key. Humility, repentance and offering supplications to our Lord is a good start. Making sure that our heart is one with Christ, that we do not desire the wealth or accumulation of knowledge or the influence that comes with importance. Let us take on the same attitude as Jesus in Philippians 2, “who even though was God, did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped.”
It’s never easy to look inward. I’d rather point an accusatory finger toward the “real” sinners. Today is a good day to make sure our heart is for Christ. To deny self, reject the pleasures of this world, and present the Gospel to all those in need.
”O Lord God, you are so faithful. Even when I get caught up in influence, power and desires, you remind me whose I am. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your love this day. Help me know the truth of your word and the power of your Law. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen