Uniform Adult Sunday School Lesson for July 8, 2018
To respond to Christ’s call to us to repent of hypocrisy in our lives
Background: Matthew 23
Matthew 23:1-8, 23-26 (CEB)
1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and his disciples, 2 “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. 4 For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5 Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others. They make extra-wide prayer bands for their arms and long tassels for their clothes. 6 They love to sit in places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues. 7 They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’ 8 “But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. . . .
23“How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You give to God a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, but you forget about the more important matters of the Law: justice, peace, and faith. You ought to give a tenth but without forgetting about those more important matters. 24 You blind guides! You filter out an ant but swallow a camel.
25 “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are full of violence and pleasure seeking. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup so that the outside of the cup will be clean too.
“The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do.” (Matthew 23:2-3)
This our second lesson on Jesus Calls for Justice and Mercy. Last week we studied the unjust servant, when a servant is forgiven much by his lord, but treats his servants harshly.
This week we will look at what Jesus has to say about hypocrites. First and foremost, hypocrites can only exist within the church. Jesus addresses this problem directly with the leaders of the Jewish community.
The leaders, or as Jesus says, “those setting in Moses seat,” had a set of rules for the congregation and another set of rules for themselves. The office they held carried with it the responsibility of teaching the law. However, those in charge kept adding to the original law as delivered by Moses.
In addition they were so impressed with their own position they delighted in seeming to appear far more holy and devout than they really were. They constantly called attention to themselves and their devoutness, by making the leather pouches where they carried their scripture and the fringe on their robes longer than others just to attract attention. In addition they would stand on the corner and pray louder than others for all to see and hear how devout they were.
Jesus warning to the community was “don’t do as they do, but listen to the words that they teach,” because that is the law of Moses. The important basics that the religious authorities seemed to ignore are the essential things. These elements—justice, peace, and faith—are what make our relationship to God and others so exceptional.
Jesus went on to make another point by saying, “You filter out an ant but swallow a camel.” And you are so concerned about the outside of the cup, when you should be concerned about the inside.
In summing it all up, what comes from the inside is more important than the way you look or your station in life. All of us have a leaning toward hypocrisy. It is human nature to think we are better or more deserving than others, but our selfishness is visible to those around us. By faith we can overcome and be more like Jesus.
My hymn for this week is “More Like the Master.”