A Warning Against Hypocrisy; Reflecting on Matthew 23: 1-12

by Kate Esslinger
Source: Public Domain


Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the lawand the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 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. 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.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;  they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.


Jesus is making a “call-out” to the pharisees and scribes in this passage. However, unlike today’s call-outs from humans possessing incomplete truth (like myself), Jesus is God and God is truth, so I would certainly listen to any call-out Jesus did. Jesus is reprimanding the pharisees’ hypocrisy and unfair treatment of the people. He explains the need for humility and the limitedness of human knowledge and love, saying only God can be the Father and teacher we need. The humble will be honored.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how essential serving others is to witnessing to them. He calls me to go above and beyond to serve by doing dishes, writing encouraging notes, and being willing to sacrifice my “agenda” to serve others. Being obedient to the pharisee’s words and God’s commands and serving others will bear fruit because God will be in it. God calls me to trust Him in with my time, and know He’ll provide time for me to accomplish everything He calls me to–school, rest, etc. He’s calling me to diligence in practicing what I preach, especially as a Christian leader. We need God’s grace in everything, but He will enable us in our willingness.