- Sermon Notes
We just finished reading about how the Jewish leaders of that day had come to challenge Jesus with questions designed to trap and accuse Him, and to draw the multitudes away from Him. But instead of trapping Jesus, each of their challenges instead confounded and rebuked them.
Here in chapter 20, Jesus asks them a question which actually begins in Matthew, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” Jesus goes straight for the heart. He turns to the multitude and to His disciples to warn them about the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders. The word hypocrite is used many times in the scriptures so it's good to understand what it means. This is one of those words that come directly out of Greek into English; it literally means, "To be an actor."
One of the best examples of that is seen in this very chapter. In verse 20 the Jewish leaders sent spies who “pretended to be righteous” so they could fit in with the crowd, but at the same time challenge Him.
Hypocrisy is pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, or standards that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy is not simply failing to fully practice those virtues that one preaches or believes in, if that were the case, everyone could be accused of hypocrisy.
The British philosopher Samuel Johnson once said, "Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for virtues that he has yet to fully obtain." We can strongly believe in the principles and virtues that God gives us in His Word and yet fall short of them because we are an imperfect and flawed people.
For example, do you truly believe that, "Every word that proceeds from your mouth should be such a word that's good for edification?" Do you do this consistently? You strongly believe in that principle, and would truly love to master it, but have yet to fully obtain it, that's not hypocrisy. There is some inconsistency in everyone's life, mine included.
Illus - I taught a parenting class this summer and said that we should use no negative emotion when disciplining our children. I absolutely believe in the principle, have I always done that? No, not always.
Illus - I also taught a marriage class this summer and said that we should always seek for solutions and speak words of life and edification, I truly believe those words, have I always done that? No, not always.
The problem of hypocrisy is deliberately putting on a mask. Saying one thing, but not at all believing it, so there most certainly wouldn't be any doing of it in reality either.
Illus - if hypocrisy is the wearing of a mask, then the opposite of hypocrisy is being genuine and real. Hypocrisy pretends that it doesn't have any flaws at all, sincerity takes responsibility for its flaws by bringing them to God. Sincere literally means, "No wax."
In the gospel of Mark we know that when one of the scribes saw that Jesus answered well then asked, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered that the greatest and foremost commandment in all the Word of God is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. If they would do that, if we would do that, we would fulfill all that God desires.
The church has never claimed to be an association of perfect people, no; the church is filled with sinners who walk in the forgiveness of their Savior. There is an old saying, “We’re not perfect; we’re forgiven. The greatest commandment is not “be holy,” the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart; and from loving God comes righteousness.
I. Live under Jesus as Lord
- Every challenging question Jesus answers with a call to revival, and when Jesus challenges them with a question, again, it’s a call to revival.
- It begins in Matthew, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
- They correctly answer, “The son of David.”
- “Why If David calls Him Lord, how is He also his son?”
- If David called the Messiah, Lord, they should, and we should as well.
A. Love God’s approval
- Since the Jewish leaders lacked a heart after God, their heart was after themselves and so they were motivated by seeking the honor of men. How?
Illus – They broadened their phylacteries; these were small boxes containing scripture verses. Jesus said they would wear larger and larger phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments as sort of a religious competition.
- God’s Word makes clear the importance of seeking the approval of God, and what pleases Him most of all?Faith.
2 Corinthians 5:9, Therefore we also have as our ambition to be pleasing to Him.
John 12:42-43, Many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
Hebrews 11:6, Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- Verse 46; they like to walk around in long robes and they love the chief seats in the synagogue and respectful greetings in the marketplace and the place of honor at banquets.
- But what Jesus taught was that honor is something God gives to the humble.
Luke 14:11 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
B. Love the title "servant" most of all
- Jesus pointed out that the Jewish leaders loved respectful greetings in the marketplace and being called by men, Rabbi.
- The problem, of course, is that titles are no indication of spiritual reality. You can be called Dr. Rev. Bishop Smith, but all that means is that you spent a lot of time in school.
- "Don't seek for titles," Jesus said. Many pastors like the title "Rev." but that means, "One who is revered, or high and lifted up. But Jesus was trying to point out that we are all brothers.
- In fact, He went on to say that "the greatest among you shall be your servant." In other words, we should desire to be known as a servant.
Illus - In Africa, at our pastors’ conferences, this is a difficult point to get across because in Africa, a pastor is highly revered and many of them use it to take advantage of others. Many of them want to call me, "Father," but I cannot accept it and will put a stop to it.
II. Live to Bless Others
- Not only were the Jewish leaders seeking places of honor and respectful titles, they were at the same time devouring widows’ houses.
- If you know the heart of God at all, you will most certainly know that you don’t mess with orphans and widows, because God cares for them.
- The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; the second is like it, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Their relationship to God was completely out of order, and so was their relationship to others.
- This was not a new revelation; this comes right out of the Word of God in the Old Testament.
- Immaturity always favors itself, exactly the problem you see in their lives. What was lacking was genuine, sincere faith, the very thing God calls us all to have.
A. Seek first the kingdom of God
- What people need is the Lord in their lives.
- The Jewish leaders shut off the kingdom of heaven from men. How? People were hungry and seeking for spiritual food, but instead of building their faith and strengthening their soul, they were trying to look religious and taking advantage of people.
- They were an obstacle to faith. They rejected Jesus and argued against Him even though God had clearly given them signs of the times for them to see that Jesus was sent by God.
John 9:22, They were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out the synagogue.
- The answer for our lives is that we should seek the kingdom of heaven as a priority in our lives and encourage others to do the same because it's the best possible thing for our lives and theirs.
- Your faith might ignite someone else’s faith; your love for God might ignite someone else’s love for God.
Matthew 6:33, "but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."
B. Look out for the interests of others
- Another problem was that they were taking advantage of widows even while giving long prayers as a pretense of holiness.
- If someone's husband had died, they were especially vulnerable and a man of honor and integrity would watch out for her interests.
- But they made a science out of taking advantage of others, even their own parents.
Mark 7:11, "But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition."
- Paul gave a great answer so we can note the heart of God toward others.
Philippians 2:3-5, Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus…
C. Be an example to follow
- Jesus said that the Jewish leaders were traveling about on sea and land to make one convert, and then made him twice as much a son of hell as they were.
- Those are strong words, but there is a strong point that goes along with it. If we want something sincere and authentic happening in our families and in our church, then we need to have something sincere and genuine in our own lives as well.
- May we truly love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, for then true revival can happen in the church. There's an old saying in Calvary Chapel circles, “Healthy sheep reproduce.”
- In the next verses of chapter 21, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, but he also saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins, saying, “This poor widow put in more than all of them.”
- They went to great trouble to tithe the slightest amount of dill and cumin, but neglected justice, mercy and faithfulness.
- He used the example of straining out a gnat, the smallest of flies that might accidentally fall into a cup, but then they swallow a camel!
- There was something genuine and sincere in the faith of this poor widow who simply wanted to honor God with her life.
- Jesus said that they would clean the outside of the cup, but the inside was full of robbery and self-indulgence. "Clean the inside of the cup first," Jesus said.
Ephesians 3:16-19 Be strengthened with power.
Luke 20:40-21:4 NASB