Years ago we had “game night” with another couple when the husband called his wife out regarding her attitude about the game. Let’s just say she was not a gracious loser and he addressed it. Awkward!!
Now, maybe he should have done that in private, but nevertheless I imagine that some of the people and disciples of Jesus felt pretty uncomfortable when Jesus called out the Scribes and other religious leaders.
And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes” (Lk 20:45,46a)
Let me say first that it was totally appropriate for Jesus to take these Pharisees to task in public because they were figures of authority whose sins were public and in some cases against the public.
Jesus is on a roll, he confronts their cold hearts, their wrongful interpretation of the scriptures and now their hypocritical lives. And he does this straight to their face. Can you feel the tension crackling in the air?
But it isn’t enough to feel awkward about the situation. And we certainly shouldn’t feel self-righteous. When we read Jesus’ words against the religious we should listen carefully. Perhaps some of these sins are ours as well.
Here are some things that Jesus pointed out regarding the character and behavior of the scribes and pharisees. And maybe even you and me.
“who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues andthe places of honor at feasts” Lk 20:46b
These leaders thought they were untouchable. In their eyes everything they did was awesome and right. They thought everyone should look up to them while they looked down on everyone else.
The Bible has a lot to say about pride. Mainly because it is the root of almost every other sin and is dangerous. Pride causes us to take credit when credit should be given to God. Pride makes us bigger and God smaller. Thomas Watson says that we rob God of his glory and place it on ourselves. He says that “it is a spiritual drunkenness; it flies up like wine into the brain and intoxicates it”, making us behave in ungodly ways.
Chrysostom called pride the “mother of hell.” This may seem harsh but God has some harsh things to say as well.
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
So do we have our pride under control? Some are proud of their talents, their wealth, their beauty, their fitness, their stuff and their beliefs just to name a few. How about your parenting, your own righteousness?
While pride lives within the heart of everyone we must work hard at beating it down, killing it, and learning humility.
“who devour widows’ houses” Lk 40:47a
These men were suppose to make sure that the widows were protected and provided for. But they were the very guys who were taking advantage of them. They did this by:
“Taking payment from widows for legal aid even though such payments were prohibited, cheating inexperienced widows of their inheritance, living off the hospitality of lonely women, mismanaging widows’ property who had dedicated themselves to service in the temple, and accepting money from the naive elderly in exchange for special prayer.” (Kent Hughes)
This was wicked in the sight of God and Jesus would not be silent.
Greed may be an acceptable “value” in our culture today, but it grieves God and harms others. How far are we willing to go to satisfy our greed? It isn’t always a desire for something bad. If we are greedy for time alone we will push our kids aside. If we are greedy for money and possessions we will go to great lengths to get it even if it means stepping on others or simply being unkind in order to get it. If we are greedy with our time we will often not be very involved at our church or in the lives of others.
“and for a pretense make long prayers.” Lk 20:47
They desired to look good and for the people to think that they were holy, but prayers like these do not come from a godly heart. They wanted people to think that they had it all together when in reality they were a mess on the inside. Hmmm …. sounds familiar.
Jesus says that “They will receive the greater condemnation.” (vs 47) because they should have known better. They spent their life studying and reading the Torah and teaching the people in the temple.
Luke 12:48 says, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
We have been blessed with the whole word of God, and much will be required of us. BUT there is good news because if we stopped here I would feel depressed. We have not been left alone. We have Christ who has died for our pride, for our greed and for our hypocrisy. He has given us power to overcome and we have the Holy Spirit to help, guide, convict and comfort us.
Yes, God requires much, but he has done all the work for us.
Looking to Jesus,