Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him. Most recently he has, for the third time, specifically predicted his death and resurrection, though most did not understand this was the redemptive fulfillment of His life. What is coming is a sham trial, public beating and mocking, and the death of a condemned criminal among criminals. We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. Now he exposes the true character of the religious phonies – the hypocrites who pretended to speak for God. By contrast, Jesus reaffirms greatness in the kingdom and true spirituality.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:8-12
1. Spotting the Phony in the Crowd. There are no hold backs now. Jesus has separated out the hypocrite, the religious phony, and is warning his disciples that they are the opposite of what is great and valued in the kingdom.
2. By Contrast, the Family of God Reflects True Spiritual Values. Rather than seeking praise and attention and power and influence on earth, with twisted and selfish values reserved for the hypocrite, a disciples understands that our Master and Father is in heaven. Spiritual titles are reserved for God, not for man. We have only one Master…have on Father, and He is in heaven.
3. And Further Contrast, Service is the Measure of Greatness for the Family of God. Have you noticed how the outcast, the slave, the child, the least and the despised, the prostitute, the sick and weak, all get the greatest attention from Jesus? The reason is this: from the imagery of the weak and least, the principle is reaffirmed: the greatest among you will be your servant. This immutable spiritual principle is to pervade the churches and communities and homes of the true believers. It is immutable. It does not change.
So the family of God and greatness in the Kingdom is the antidote to the hypocrisy in the church:
48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother Matthew 12:48-50.
And ambition – getting ahead by maneuvering ahead of others, has no place in the Christian’s life:
When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45.
In the end, understanding what to do and who to follow and not follow is pretty clear. Just measure it by Him who is our Savior and who gave us life a ransom for us. It comes back to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Stay well.