Beware of these teachers of religion! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. They love to sit in the best seats in the synagogues and at the places of honor at banquets—but they shamelessly cheat widows out of their homes and then, to cover up the kind of men they really are, they pretend to be pious by praying long prayers in public.
A couple of weeks ago we thought about Jesus’ warning against the sinful influences of politics and religion (read here).
Now we see what He thinks of people who use God as a manipulative means to political, social, or economic ends (Luke 20:46).
Many of the religious teachers around Jesus were quite enamored with special clothes, special greetings, special seats in church, and special places at parties.
Rich and powerful scribes—their protracted and pretentious public prayers notwithstanding—don’t impress Jesus. He fully understands the kind of people they truly are.
And He doesn’t want us to be anything like them.
Accordingly, He teaches us that we cannot follow Him and pursue prestige, power, and popularity. If we decide to follow Him it will be in the Way of the Cross. He says,
If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).
This isn’t to say that a follower of Jesus can never experience fame or fortune; but to insist that such things—if they come—will not be the focus or goal of the Christ-follower’s life. The wealthy and/or admired Christian will seek to use these things to further the kingdom of God as humbly as she can. Enjoying God now and forever will be her highest end or good.
So why trade a full life with Jesus for an empty one without Him?
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world,
and yet lose or forfeit their very self?