Words on a page give a static message, one that can be construed, even distorted, however a person desires.
23 When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. 3 Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.
I’m going to give you the punchline first: We have the living Word of God in us. Listen to Him.
Jesus was really hard on the scribes and Pharisees. Let’s take a look at why.
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. 5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries 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.
Literal- Scribes were teachers of the law. They interpreted the Scriptures and taught them. The seat of Moses was a seat at the front of every synagogue and was from where the Scriptures were taught. In Luke 4, Jesus stood up to read Isaiah 61, read it, rolled up the scroll and then sat down to teach (Luke 4:16-21).
Moral- It was not the law and prophets with which Jesus had a problem; it was the teachers’ interpretation and application of the law that He denounced. To them, it was all for show. They were not interested in helping people, but in controlling them.
Spiritual- It seems that Jesus is at first condoning what the leaders were teaching, but looking closer, Jesus then denounced what the leaders were doing. I think that Jesus was telling them to hang tight; He would deal with them!
The next verses are where Jesus begins to teach,
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. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant.
Jesus put everyone on the same plane with the declaration that we are all brothers (and sisters–it’s implied). There is no hierarchy in Jesus’ family: He is the head and we are the body. Ephesians 1:22-23 says that we are the church, His body, and He is the head. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 gives a great explanation of how the spiritual body works. Jesus also gave a similar teaching about the greatest being a servant to the rest in Luke 22:24-27.
Then, the hammer struck, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus tells us that we must act contrary to our human nature; our base desires of self-preservation and self-gratification must be mastered. There are a couple of things working against us. Because of the curse of sin, we live with the knowledge of good and evil, but we don’t have the wherewithal to control the desire that can come with that knowledge. This desire rises up and we are tempted. Therefore, we can fall to temptation because of the lack of power to resist. Jesus came to give us that power: HIMSELF!
We’ll pick it up at verse 13 tomorrow.
Abba, thank You for coming to bring us back on track spiritually. May we share this wonderful news with everyone. I will be looking for those in whom You are working and will join You in Your work. Increase Your kingdom, Lord! Amen.