#DailyDevotion Do What They Say & Not What They Do
Matthew 23 Then Jesus said to the crowd and to His disciples: 2“The Bible scholars and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3Do everything they tell you, and observe it; but don’t do what they do, because they don’t do what they say. They tie together heavy loads that are hard to carry and lay them on the shoulders of others, but they won’t lift a finger to move them.
Jesus tells the crowd and his disciples to listen and do what the Bible Scholars (Scribes) and Pharisees tell them to do because they sit on Moses’ seat. Before Moses went to the LORD and quit speaking to Israel through Moses, he set up a system of priests, elders and the like. There were prophetical schools much like seminaries. These people were to speak in the LORD’s name. They were to do what Moses did. As long as they were teaching what Moses taught they were to be listened to and obeyed. They had Moses’ authority. In similar fashion, our LORD Jesus Christ did not leave the Church without leadership. He appointed the 12, the 72, and the Holy Spirit worked through the Church to have them continue their ministry in the Holy of the Holy Ministry.
Now Jesus tells them not to do though what they do. I don’t think Jesus is necessarily saying the Pharisees and Scribes are not doing what they teach. They do however miss the greater understanding of the Law and don’t do that. What is this greater understanding of the Law? Based on what Jesus points out in these verses that is mercy.
Twice in Jesus’ ministry (in Matthew) he demonstrated this point. When Jesus was dining with Matthew’s friends who were sinners and the Pharisees complained Matt 912Jesus heard them and said, “Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means: ‘I want mercy and not mere sacrifice.’ I didn’t come to call righteous people but sinners.” Another time when the Pharisees complained about the Jesus’ disciples eating wheat in the field, Matt. 127“If you knew what this means: ‘I want mercy and not mere sacrifice’, you would not have condemned the innocent. 8The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
We can see here that while the LORD wants the Law to be held to strictly part of that Law, the Torah, the Instruction of the LORD is to be merciful because he is merciful. To be merciful is to show love to the neighbor and God is Love. The commandments, rules, precepts, regulations and the like from the LORD were to demonstrate the holiness of the LORD and his people to the world. But, they were also to show how to love God and to love our neighbor. If there seems to be some conflict between one thing God has told us to do and showing mercy to someone and love, then by all means show mercy and love. The Pharisees wouldn’t lift a finger to help the people they teach to move the loads they placed on the people. If we place strict obedience to the Law of God at the forefront, then we should be willing to help people carry the burden of that Law.
Jesus ultimately showed mercy to us by becoming our sin sacrifice. He carried the burden and curse of the Law by becoming curse for us on the tree. He calls us to be merciful to others and sacrifice our rights to help others.
Heavenly Father, through the mercies of Jesus Christ, grant us greater faithfulness to you by making us merciful, as you are merciful, to the people around us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.