Fancy Suits And Widows
Fancy suits, respectful warm greetings on the street, high-backed, upholstered chairs on the platform in front of the congregation, and then the best seat at high-priced restaurants after the church extravaganzas—some pastors get to revel in this kind of adulation, and younger pastors can hunger to reach these pinnacles of power and success. How does Jesus evaluate these symbols of power, recognition, and prestige?
Luke introduced us to Jesus’ conflict with the religious leaders of his day by presenting Jesus accusing them of being hypocrites (Lk. 12:1). Then, He intensified the conflict by purposely healing on the Sabbath challenging the rigidity of the Jerusalem leadership’s rules. The conflict begins to boil early in Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem as His enemies plot to seize and murder Him.
We’ve seen them question Jesus, trying to get the crowd to turn against Him to get Him, to misstep politically so that the Romans would do their dirty work, and to make His belief in the resurrection look ridiculous. So far all their attempts have failed. It’s obvious as Luke tells us the Story that these are not the “good guys” we need to emulate. On the contrary we need to beware.
“While all the people were listening, Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Be on the alert against the religious legal experts, those who desire to walk about in their robes, love to be respectfully greeted in the marketplaces, to be given the seats of honor in the synagogue and the seat at the head of the table at dinner parties. In fact they are eating up the homes of widows while they put on a show praying long prayers. They will be severely punished.” Luke 20:45-47
What did Jesus mean when He talked about “eating up the homes of widows?” Down through the centuries, false religionists prey on the most vulnerable. Jesus warns against being enticed by these false teachers who are in it for themselves and who use fear tactics, and so-called ‘insider’ information to get us to join their circle (of course, for a small fee). Jesus is still telling us to be alert!
LORD, uproot any passion for the nice clothes, the positions of recognition, and the cunning to attack my rivals that characterize false religious leaders. Make me generous in giving to the needs of others and use today’s devo to protect someone, especially the weak, from false teachers asking for money.
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