Friday, March 18, 2022
Religious Fashion Shows
23 1-3 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.
4-7 “Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day, and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’
-Matthew 23:1-7 The Message
23 Verse 1: Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,
Verse 2: says: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses.
Verse 3: Therefore, whatever they tell you, do and comply with it all, but do not do as they do; for they say things and do not do them.
Verses 2-3 studies: The man-made laws weren’t bad, they had benefits. The Pharisees’ traditions and interpretations and applications of the laws became as important to them as God’s law itself. The problems started when religious leaders:
- Took man-made rules seriously as God’s laws
- Being hypocritical by telling people to follow the rules in which they didn’t follow themselves
- Obeyed rules to make themselves look good, not honor God
Jesus normally doesn’t condemn what the Pharisees taught, but they were hypocrites.
Verse 4: And they tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as their finger.
Verse 5: And they do all their deeds to be noticed by other people; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
Verse 5 study: Phylacteries were little leather boxes containing Scripture verses. Religious people were these boxes on their forehead and arms in order to obey Deuteronomy 6:8 and Exodus 13:9, 16.
Deuteronomy 6:8: You shall also tie them as a sign to your hand, and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead.
Exodus 13:9: And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt.
Exodus 13:16: So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”
The phylacteries had become more important for the status they gave than the truth they contained.
Verse 6: And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the seats of honor in the synagogues,
Verse 7: and personal greetings in the marketplaces, and being called Rabbi by the people.
Verses 5-7 studies: People want positions of leadership, not only in the church but also in the church. It’s dangerous to love a position that grows stronger than loyalty to God. This happened to the Pharisees and the Scribes. Jesus is not against leadership as we do need Christian leaders. he is against leadership that serves itself than others.
Jesus exposed the hypocritical attitudes of religious leaders. They knew the Scriptures but failed to live by them. They did not care about being holy. They looked holy to receive the people’s admiration and praise. Today, like the Pharisees, many people know the Bible, but do not live by it by not letting the Bible change them. They say they follow Jesus but don’t live to Jesus’ standards of love. These are hypocrites. We have to be sure that our actions match our beliefs.