45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely."
(Boy Jesus in the temple- William Holman Hunt 1854-60)
Thoughts: Barclay says that rabbis expected to be greeted properly and had a proper order for being honored. They expected, as teachers, to be honored above best friends and even one's own father. "If a man's father and teacher are carrying a burden he must first help his teacher and afterwards his father." Today too many people are all about getting the honor of others rather than the honor of God. This is fake sincerity, plastic religiosity. Those who parade their honors, their titles, their resumes, the size and budget of their church- do so not for God but for self- and pride. Pride leaves little room for God. But religious pride means a kind of sick godless religion. This is a perpetual human danger- and should be resisted strongly.
Prayer: Humble me, this day, Lord, that I might have more room for you and less room for selfish-pride. Especially may my devotion to you be focused on you.
John Calvin abridged: The Essenes and Sadducees preferred the literal reading of scripture while the Pharisees a mystical reading. Because they were the specialized interpreters they were held in high esteem. It is not enough to possess a title and occupy a station. The scribes and Pharisees sought idle display and to distinguish themselves from the rest of the people. How ingenious people are at concocting vain deception and pretext in order to conceal their vices.