January 17: Unmasking Inauthentic Religion (Matthew 23:1-12)
This Sunday Daniel Harman will continue the series Living as a Church at 9:00am in the youth room. Ray Rutledge will be in the Adult 1 classroom continuing through The Gospel Project (currently going through the Old Testament book of Exodus).
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (ESV)
There is a major shift as we come to our passage in Matthew 23. While Jesus has been questioned over the prior days as recorded in chapter 21 forward, Jesus now goes on the offensive. In this chapter, he gives his last extended discourse to the crowds and his disciples about the nature of false religion as evidenced in the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. While Jesus is not criticizing every scribe and Pharisee, he is warning his disciples and any who would follow him that they must not adopt the superficial and hypocritical approach of religion which was characteristic of many of the Pharisees. The threat of hypocrisy looms large as a challenge to all who would follow Jesus.
Review and Apply
1. How does Jesus define hypocrisy in verse 3? Where do you see traces of this in your life?
2. How are you seeking the spiritual good of others, or 'lifting a finger' to help them make progress in faith?
3. In what ways are you tempted to draw attention to yourself in your relationships?
4. How does this passage clarify right and wrong kinds of ambition?
5. In what ways do you humble yourself in sacrifice?
6. Would humility be a word that others might use to describe you? Why or why not?
7. What does it mean for us that humility will lead to exaltation?