Our sin nature wants to fight Jesus for control of our lives. His Spirit will help us relinquish control to Him–if we are willing.
10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.
20b “If they persecuted me [Jesus], they will persecute you also.”
If we think that the fighting was dirty before, consider this verse from Matthew 26:3, “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.” What had Jesus said or done that could be that bad? This week, we are going to look at the escalation of Jesus’ attacks on the Jewish leadership. The reason for these attacks was two-pronged. First, Jesus wanted the people to know that the leadership was NOT doing things the way God wanted them to, but were unwilling to change. Second, Jesus was prodding them into killing Him (even while holding out redemption to them; see John 10:38)–it was the Plan all along. Here is the first antagonizing teaching.
A Warning Against Hypocrisy
23 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.
On the surface, this statement seems innocuous enough, but what the teachers of the law were really doing was putting themselves on an equal plane with Moses. They were interpreting the Law according to their own designs. They had rules to control people while they answered to a different set of rules that they made up for themselves. Jesus called them on one of these rules in Mark 7:9-12, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” Jesus then turned the people’s attention to the motives of the teachers of the law:
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries [boxes containing Scripture verses, worn on forehead and arm] 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.
To them, it was all a big ego trip. To Jesus, they were either hired hands who didn’t care for the sheep (John 10:12-13) or actual wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Now, He gives the correct position to have:
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.
The terms, “Rabbi (Teacher),” “Father,” and “Instructor,” are all terms that the religious leaders adored. Lest we get the impression that we are not to use these terms at all, we must understand that a disciple of the Rabbis were to receive and accept whatever the Rabbi taught without question. The other terms carried the same weight. Jesus was saying that they all have one Teacher, Father, and Instructor–Him. Very soon, He would come to live in His believers so that He would abide in them and direct their every step. When? At Pentecost and the Coming of the Holy Spirit. We, too, have that same Spirit in us. Jesus teaches us, and His Father is our Father; the Spirit instructs us and leads each of us as our Partner, our Guide, as one who walks with us every step of the way. We are all His children and on equal footing with Him.
There is nothing too trivial about which He is concerned for us. Why do we fight Him so? The next two verses hold the key to our stubbornness and also the secret to success:
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.
In Jesus’ kingdom, humility trumps pride. In fact, pride undermines all of Christ’s attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s not so much that the Father reprimands those who exalt themselves; He doesn’t have to. They will destroy themselves. Likewise, the “reward” for humility is to be loved and adored by those around them. It’s built in!
May we learn to “humble ourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift us up (James 4:10).”
Abba, may this week be special to us as we read Your Word and articles, listen to teachings and sermons, and watch videos and shows to gain a greater perspective about this special week. If I were to choose something to allow to consume me, it would be learning about this holy week. It is the greatest week in history! Show me more, Lord Jesus. This inquiring mind wants to know. Amen.