SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In this chapter Jesus confronts the Pharisees. He starts by telling a crowd of people that they should follow the teachings of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, but to not imitate what they do -- in other words, do as they say, not as they do. These religious leaders didn’t practice what they preached. Jesus said that everything these men did was for others to see.
- Jesus mentions "phylacteries." These were little boxes of Bible verses the Pharisees wore on their head and arms to try to make it look like they were extra righteous.
- Jesus gives the crowd a quick lesson about status in the kingdom of God by saying, “the greatest among you will be your servant.”
- Jesus calls the Pharisees some harsh names, explaining (in verse 13) that instead of bringing people to God, as they were supposed to, they were keeping people from him.
- Jesus made it clear that merely “looking the part” doesn’t get us anything with God. Jesus wants people to genuinely follow him. How do we overcome the temptation to appear as though we are perfect? Part of it is playing for an audience of one. We should only be concerned with what God thinks, not trying to impress other people. Another aspect is to practice our good deeds in secret (as Jesus teaches in Matthew, chapter six). We need to try and make sure others don't know about the good we do, so we're not tempted to do it so they'll know it.
- If you've been following the reading plan, you've probably noticed that this theme of hypocrisy has been coming up often in Jesus' teaching. He is really serious about making sure people have a genuine faith from the heart, not a manufactured faith to impress others. Are you serious about having a genuine faith? Where do you see yourself trying to impress others instead of truly living for God? Talk to God about this and ask him for help.