Sunday, November 17, 2013

How would Jesus describe you?

Jesus with scribes and Pharisees by James Tissot
Jesus with scribes and Pharisees by James Tissot

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 20:41-21:6

TO CHEW ON: "Them, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, 'Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts. …'" Luke 20:45,46

I wonder how the scribes felt about Jesus' public "Beware the scribes..." So who were these people that Jesus spoke of so negatively?

The Victor Handbook of Bible Knowledge says of scribes:
"Reading and writing were skills learned by only a select few in Bible times. Scribes were the writers of the ancient world, and an Israelite man was usually trained for 15-20 years to become one."

And of New Testament scribes it says:
"All three (chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people) were religious leaders of the Jews. … The scribes were scholars who knew the Jewish law. They could be either Pharisees or sadducees. Some of them later became rabbis" - V. Gilbert Beers, Victor Handbook of Bible Knowledge pp. 281 & 479.

It wasn't for their work as Scripture scholars Jesus criticized them though. Rather it was for their attitudes, which they showed in various ways.
  • They were showy - "they desire to go around in long robes …" Luke 20:46.
  • They loved attention and deference - "…love greetings in the marketplaces."
  • They loved prominence - "…the best seats in the synagogues and the best places at feasts."
  • They were greedy, stooping to prey on the poorest and most vulnerable - "…who devour widows' houses" - Luke 20:47.
  • They were sanctimonious, praying long showy prayers meant to impress onlookers with their piety - "…and for  pretense make long prayers."

Jesus declared them false—a sham. In his lengthy denunciation of them in Matthew 23, He describes their fate: "'Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?'" - Matthew 23:33.

Chilling words. They make us pause and examine our own lives. Do we have some of their ambitions—the desire to be seen and noticed, the love of attention and prominence? What's our attitude toward the poor and vulnerable? Do we ever pray with the secret desire to be thought pious and spiritually mature?

How would Jesus view us? Let's ask for His perspective and then repent of and clear out the rubble of sinful attitude and action. For we would never want to hear the words "Beware ___" with our names in the blank!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, it's easy to feel superior as I read about these religious hypocrites. But help me to view my own attitudes and life through Your eyes and deal with the sin You show me. Amen. 


New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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