And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:45-47 NASB)
I forgot. Week to week, I forgot the sequential naming thing I was doing. It’s sad really, no excuse for that. This is the week where Jesus marches inexorably toward the cross. How can I forget that context? Fortunately for me, someone else receives greater condemnation…
These are like the “woes” in Matthew 23, which make up the whole chapter actually. Matthew spends a lot more ink on these condemnations than does Luke or Mark. Mark is essentially word-for-word what we have in Luke. In Matthew, we have a much longer passage with one small parenthetical note on how disciples (or the church) is to view titles within (vs.8-11). The point is made in all three even so. There should be no concern that others respect or look up to us.
I once told the church I was leading that I was more a “bell-sheep” than a shepherd. One “sheep” in particular didn’t like that. He wanted a shepherd. Ironically, he didn’t obey or follow. So, what did his “preference” mean? On the other hand, what do mine mean? I’ve already confessed in several of these entries that I care what others think of me. I’ve stated that this fear keeps me from obedience at times. It’s not just the guy who didn’t follow or obey me, it’s me too. I read this statement by Jesus and I’m uncomfortable.
I believe the disciples were too. They’ve already been caught in a couple of discussions of who is the greatest. Jesus has repeatedly described the greatest as the servant of all, but they still argue about it. Me too. Not audibly so I’m embarrassed by my spiritual immaturity, but me too. I hide my foible under a facade of respectability, but me too. But there is a darker side waiting just past the line differentiating pride from humility. There is a personality quirk I have that truly doesn’t care what others think, because they’re all wrong.
Yep, I’m a fallen person with clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. In the midst of all this my Master sanctifies me for His purpose and design. I’m in danger of caring too much about what others think of me, and caring too much for what I think of anything. The answer is to die to self, solving both problems. The point of connection in both is me. Both are a focus on me. Either way I’m selfish. So, if I focus on Jesus my King, then I fade, calming the clamoring of both parts of my selfishness.
So, shun the robes of office, the greetings of others, nice seats at church and dinner parties, and long prayers. And quit bullying the defenseless. Just relax in the tranquility of my Master’s grace and love. This is the path Jesus laid out. I’m to follow it wherever it leads.
What’s your view through the fence today?