2007-11-18_One Is Your Leader_Matthew23.1-12_SL
One Is Your Leader
Matthew 23:1-12 | Shaun LePage | November 18, 2007
A. There was a leader in the not-so-distant past who often used Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government he was leading. He gave the outward appearance of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to church related publications. He showed his tattered Bible as often as he could and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it. Millions of people welcomed him as a man sent from God. His name? Adolf Hitler—a master at outward appearances, while the inward reality was quite different!
B. Sadly, Hitler was not rare. Gained more power, did more damage than most, but there have been many like him. Many who were not what they seemed to be. Many who seemed to be leading people to heaven, but in reality were leading them into concentration camps.
C. CPS: It matters who you follow and it matters how you lead.
D. The Bible calls the Church of Jesus Christ the “pillar and support of the truth.” In a world filled with gurus, professors, teachers, shamans, sages, prophets, priests, pastors all claiming to offer the truth, the One who claims to be “the Truth” has commissioned His followers to faithfully and persistently share the real thing—“the truth”—to the world around us.
E. There is no greater example than Jesus Himself. In Matthew 22, Jesus did exactly this. He spoke up, defending the truth for at least five reasons: 1) For His own sake establish authority, identity, innocence; 2) For the hypocrites’ sake still time to turn; 3) For His disciples’ sake truth is a battle; 4) For the crowds’ sake (v.33) expose false teachers; 5) For our sake Who Jesus is! primary issue: Jesus! Be bold—Don’t overestimate
F. Ch. 23—Last public sermon; vs. 13ff scolding of leaders; today—vs. 1-12 warnings about leaders (where teaching ministry started back in Sermon on the Mount—“do not be like the hypocrites” (5:5)—Exhibit A!
II. Body—Matthew 23:1-12
A. Don’t follow hypocrites (1-7)—timeless guide to identify false spiritual leaders (can’t tell by robes ties); invite you to evaluate elders this morning, but also self-evaluation!!
1. (1) “then”—“No one able to answer” (22:46) so “Jesus spoke to crowds and disciples”;
2. (2-3a) “Scribes and Pharisees” (still there? v.13ff) Scribes copied/taught Scriptures—important role; “scribes” included Pharisees and Sadducees; Pharisees dominant/most influence w/people; “seated themselves” (NIV “sit in Moses’ seat”) probably just means (like Moses) their position is one of authority “therefore…do and observe” their teaching—as long as it agreed with Moses (God’s Word)
3. (3b) “but, do not do…” don’t follow! see 15:1-14, obviously Jesus would not condone following a “blind guide…into a pit”; teach truth? “do /observe” but don’t do the “deeds” they do because there’s a disconnect between faith and practice. Write: 1. False leaders don’t practice what they preach (3). All fall short, but they lacked the basic character required of spiritual leaders; 1 Tim 3, Titus 1—requirements overseers (God’s expectations for spiritual leaders) includes “above reproach and not self-willed…good reputation”; warned against putting men in leadership who “profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him…” Write: Follow and be doers of the word—trying hard to practice what preach; nobody’s perfect—but look for consistency
4. (4) “Tie up…” Picture of slave-drivers; taskmasters who had no love for the people under their charge; write: 2. False leaders don’t have compassion (4). legalism always weighs people down; what did Jesus say? Mt 11:28-30; Apostles? 1 Thes 2:5-12; 1 Pt 5:1-3; Overseers: “gentle, peaceable, hospitable, loving what is good, just” Write: Follow and be loving shepherds—not a burden, but gentle, loving father, nursing mother
5. (5) “to be noticed by men” (remember 6:1ff?); “broaden their phylacteries” Dt 6:1-12 (3 other times) probably figurative language (“on your heart?” v.6); “phylacteries” from “frontals” (v.8) over time black leather box, ceremonial clean animals, 4 Scripture scrolls; 1 tied to head, 1 to hand (still practiced today)—became a show: who has the broadest phylacteries? Most spiritual! “Lengthen the tassels” Num 15:38-40 (Jesus—Mt 9:20); Point: Intended to remind them to obey the Scriptures! Worthless apart from obedience! Like a post-it note for others to see, bumper sticker on obscene blur, WWJD t-shirt on a teenage hellion! “to be noticed by men” so they’ll think you’re spiritual, not because you want evangelize; write 3. False leaders don’t have authentic spirituality (5). 1 Cor “carnal” spiritually foolish, selfishly motivated but “spiritual…have the mind of Christ” know love is most important; deal with sin, don’t ignore it; truly say “imitate me as I imitate Christ”; selfless, slave of all, give up rights; “overseers” truly “respectable…(not an) empty talker and deceiver”; Write: Follow and be spiritual examples—the real deal, inner reality more important than outward display
6. (6-7) “place of honor…chief seats”—pretty obvious; fame/power/prestige; favorite subject is themselves (You’re so vain!); Write: 4. False leaders don’t have humility (6-7). “Respectful greetings” Attention-driven leadership! All about the title! “Rabbi” (like “doctor” or “reverend”); Phil 2:5-8; “Overseer” (true leader) “not conceited…self-controlled” (as opposed to self-absorbed); Write: Follow and be selfless servants—(opposite of those who have place of honor) follow those who are full of the Spirit, not full of themselves; be Christ-centered
B. Don’t copy hypocrites (8-12)
1. (8-10) “do not be called…” change from description/criticism of “scribes and Pharisees” to specific commands (basically turned to disciples (future spiritual leaders) and said: don’t be like them); “Rabbi, Father, Leader”—don’t take legalistically, these used elsewhere without admonishment (e.g., 1 Cor 4:15; Eph 4:11; Heb 13:17); point: 1. Avoid self-exalting titles—focus on God’s name (disappointed: planning to go by “Most Excellent SL” or “High Commander); problem when task (teacher, father, leader) becomes all about the title; “Rabbi” (basically “teacher”) had grown to (almost) supreme source of divine truth! Real issue: looking to someone other than Christ to be your real Rabbi—supreme source of truth (“One is your teacher”); “you are all brothers” anyone else besides Jesus (pastors, elders, deacons) are just “brothers”—not spiritual superior/higher rank; “Father” obviously sense of “spiritual father” (OK to call Dad “father”); high Jewish council preferred this term—priests (RCC & others), “pope” means father; idea: giver of spiritual life; “One is your Father (giver of spiritual life) who is in heaven”; “Leader…One is your Leader, that is Christ” He is the “Head”; follow “leaders” (small l) as they follow Christ
2. (11-12) “greatest”=“servant”; greatness is a good goal; scribes & Pharisees chose human standards, rejected God’s standards (“My servant Moses”) requires path of servanthood (John 13, Jesus washed feet); true, Biblical leadership is servant-leadership; Important principle: self-exalted? You’ll be humbled; Humble self? God will exalt you (probably means exalt to leadership; also eternal reward); Write: 2. Avoid self-exalting service—focus on God’s standards. 1 Pet 5 again, vs. 1-7; Let Him do the exalting
A. All this to say: It matters who you follow and it matters how you lead
B. Consider this my annual evaluation! (Elders); Pray for us; high standards—grace of God!