Wednesday, April 23, 2014
“But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Matthew 23:5-7 KJV).
Jesus Christ rebukes apostate Christendom with these same words even today.
Religion (Christendom) teems with people performing ceremonies, rites, and rituals to gain God’s attention and acceptance. However, Christianity focuses not on what we do for Jesus Christ, but what Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary, and what He will do in and through us if we, by faith, allow Him.
In today’s Scripture, Jesus condemned the religion of His day. Judaism was once the pure religion that JEHOVAH gave to Israel through Moses. In the 1,500 years since Moses, Israel’s religious leaders had polluted that God-given religion. Israel’s clergy were generally divided between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, although the Pharisees dominated (according to verse 2, Jesus is speaking mainly of them in today’s Scripture). Law-keeping was not about honoring JEHOVAH God who gave it, but rather rule-keeping for rules’ sakes. In fact, they added to the 600-plus laws God had given!! They largely preferred man-made rules, “the commandments of men” (Mark 7:1-13; cf. Colossians 2:8). Israel was burdened by and buried in laws (Matthew 23:4; Acts 15:10; cf. Galatians 4:9)!!!
The Apostle Paul admonished Christian servants (employees) not to work with “eyeservice” (Colossians 3:22-25). It was not to be showy, put-on, eye-catching work done diligently just for the sake of praise; it was to be honest, genuine labor from the heart, whether someone was watching or not.
In today’s Scripture, Jesus exposed how the watered-down “Jews’ religion” (Galatians 1:14) enabled Israel’s religious leaders to brag about their “broad phylacteries” (large boxes that held many scraps of “paper” with Old Testament verses on them, worn on the forehead or wrist). They loved to wear special clothing (long robes with large fringes; Luke 20:46), to be seen and praised of men because of their “long prayer” (Matthew 23:14), to be commended for their “pious” appearance and dedication.
Beloved, avoid those who make such “a fair shew in the flesh” (Galatians 6:12)!