Who are the real villains who oppose Jesus?
23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
If Jesus is the hero in the story of the gospel, who do you think is the villain? Who’s the big bad guy who needs to be brought down? Is it Herod, for trying to kill Jesus as a baby? Is it the Devil, who shows up to try and tempt Jesus away from God? Is it Judas, who betrays Jesus? Or is it Pilate and the Romans, who condemn Jesus to death and put him on the cross with their own hands? Jesus himself spends a lot of his ministry warning about a threat that’s much closer.
What makes the Pharisees so dangerous is that they were supposed to be trustworthy. The teachers of the law were the link between God, the Scriptures, and God’s people. Their words and actions were supposed to be leading God’s people down the right path. But instead, they were being a stumbling block and a burden, all while under the guise of help. The most dangerous villain is the one who is supposed to be helping you.
Head: Can you think of people like the Pharisees, who don’t practice what they preach?
Heart: What is it that you preach, and do you really practice it?
Hands: Are there people in your life who you have authority over? How can you lighten their load?
Prayer: Lord, you are the one and only authority over us. You are true to your Word in your actions, and you give us a good example in your son Jesus. Protect us from the villains in our lives, from people who abuse their power, and who put unnecessary burdens on people without power. And for those of us who do have power, guide our actions so that we use our power correctly, and don’t become like the Pharisees that Jesus was rebuking. In your name, Amen.
A song to listen to: No other name
Zoe Harland- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina