Wednesday, 25th January, 2017
Theme: False Religious Practice
Text: Matthew 23:1-15
EMHB 159 – One who is all unfit to count
Memory Verse: Matthew 23:14 “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you devour widows’ houses and for pretence make long prayers. Therefore, you will receive greater damnation.”
DAY: John 21; NIGHT: Job 1-3
The Lord exposes the spiritual bankruptcy of religion (verse 1-12), denounces it with seven fearful woes (verse 23ff), and finally issues a damning prophecy against the whole nation (Matthew 23: 27-28). The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sat in Moses’ seat (Matt. 23:2). As the successors to Moses, the Lawgiver, they were supposed to expound the law so that their hearers would walk in the ways of the Lord (Deut. 10:12-13). They were supposed to lead the people into the way of light, teaching the Ten Commandments, reading the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) and the Prophets (16 of them). But they had turned religion into an unbearable burden that offered neither relief nor salvation (Matthew 23:4).
The test of effective Christian leadership and teaching is that people learn to live in vital relationship with God. Jesus’ words to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees are pertinent to all Christian leaders. Their Phylacteries (leather boxes containing scriptures) and tassels on their clothing as a reminder that they were God’s people, have today become more like fetish and charms many African people carry. They no longer serve their original purpose.
The followers of Jesus Christ, by contrast, must put God first and use all their intellectual and spiritual resources in the service of others. The principle is: “God first, others second and self last”. Jesus is the one true Teacher, the rightful successor to Moses. All His followers are brothers and sisters of equal standing before Him. (Matt. 23:8-10). The watchword must be servanthood and humility (Matthew 23:11-12; 18:4; 20:26-27).
PRAYER: Lord, kindly remove all forms of hypocrisy from my heart. Amen.