October 3, 2016
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.
There’s a difference between false teaching and a false teacher. Whereas false teaching must never be received as the truth, a false teacher can be capable of teaching the truth. In other words, there’s often a difference between the authority of the teaching and the authenticity of the teacher. Isn’t that something of what Jesus is getting at here? He says the Pharisees teaching can be heeded, but not their example. He is about to launch into an all out attack of the Scribes and the Pharisees, excoriating their hypocrisy.
Jesus seems to be saying that the teaching of these teachers cannot be dismissed just because they are hypocrites. They are sitting in the seat of Moses, after all. The authority of Moses must be respected—these teachers, not so much. They have the authority of Moses and while their authority is real, it is empty. Remember those occasions where the people remarked of Jesus that he taught as one who had an authority not like the Scribes and the Pharisees?
I wonder if that is true of us these days. Hypocrisy is ever crouching at the door. It is so easy to assert the truth of our faith with our words while denying its transformative power with our lives. It’s why the truth about God apart from the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is an unbearable burden. Jesus had something to say along these lines back in Matthew 11.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus disciples us in the ways that the Holy Spirit works in human persons to bring our words and our witness together into the holy union of the love of God and neighbor. If discipleship feels like a heavy or onerous burden to us, we aren’t being discipled by Jesus. Hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees still abound. Beware of them. Just because they may be teaching the truth doesn’t mean they are leading you into the way and the truth and the life.
So many people reject the truth because of the untruthfulness of those who teach it. I think this is why Jesus hates hypocrisy so much.
We need to also beware of this inconvenient truth. How is it that 100% of the time the hypocrites also happen to be someone other than us?
Father, save us from the hypocrisy of judging hypocrites while granting immunity to ourselves. Grant us the grace to turn the mirror onto our own lives and asking the question, “Am I a hypocrite?” Do I practice what I preach? Lead me into the way of the easy yoke and the light burden. Lead me into the same Holy Spirit filled life I see in Jesus. It is in his name I pray, Amen.
1. Have you ever had a leader who taught the truth but did not live it out? Did it cause you to reject their teaching?
2. Why do you think hypocrisy is so hated by Jesus?
3. How do we steer clear of hypocrisy? Is your walk with God a burdensome thing? If so, you may be in the danger zone.
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.