Jesus is constantly challenging the religious elites and leaders (scribes) of His time here on earth. He still does today. We have to be careful. This time he took on the Scribes specifically.
Are we acting like religious elites some days? We need to be careful. The charade is dangerous.
Jesus offers us a way out. That is some very good news. The way out is to be His disciple and to follow His commands. Jesus wants us to focus on love, not the law. Our job today is to love God and everyone else we come in contact with. Love sets us free.
And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes [religious elites], who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” | The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Luke 20:45–47). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Scribes in ancient Israel were learned men whose business was to study the Law, transcribe it, and write commentaries on it. They were also hired on occasions when the need for a written document arose or when an interpretation of a legal point was needed. Ezra, “a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses,” was a scribe (Ezra 7:6).
The scribes went beyond interpretation of Scripture, however, and added many man-made traditions to what God had said. They became professionals at spelling out the letter of the Law while ignoring the spirit behind it. Things became so bad that the regulations and traditions the scribes added to the Law were considered more important than the Law itself. This led to many confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes.
At the beginning of the Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5-7), Jesus shocked His audience by declaring that the righteousness of the scribes was not enough to get anyone to heaven. A large portion of Jesus’ sermon then dealt with what the people had been taught (by the scribes) and what God actually wanted (Matthew 5:21–48). Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry, He thoroughly condemned the scribes for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23). They knew the Law, and they taught it to others, but they did not obey it.
Faith at Work: Are we being an elitist with our colleagues at work, looking down on their spirituality. Jesus is clear on this. We can’t be putting on a show with our religiosity.
- Are we making a show by praying at our desk?
- Are we always quoting scripture to others at inappropriate times?
- Is our religious jewelry gaudy?
- Are we sad and gloomy all the time?