Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Replublic Day “Justice for All”St. Matthew 23:23-28.
V23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—
mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former”.
Today 26th January is the Indian Republic Day when the country marks and celebrates the date on which the constitution of India came in to effect on 26th January 1950, replacing the Government of India Act as the governing documents of India and thus turning the nation in to a newly formed Republic.
Republic Day Greetings to you all.
The Scribes and Pharisees are very devoted to the Law. They observe it very keenly. But here Jesus called them hypocrites. The reason was they were observing the law in literal sense.
The Moses' Laws were interpreted by scribes and high priests and made a large number of rules and regulations. Here Jesus criticized their rules because the rules lost their inner meaning and spirit.
They were not observing the Law but the rules made by them. "The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught". Isaiah 29:13
Also Jesus said: "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" Mark 7:8-9.
In these verses, human rules and traditions etc are the rules made by them instead of the Law given by God through Moses.
Because of such interpretation the Law had lost its spirit. They pay the tithe but neglected the important things such as justice, mercy and faithfulness. Truly paying tithe is the result of having these important things in the life. So they were thinking that they were very loyal to the Law. But it was only in observing the human interpretations. That’s why Jesus called them hypocrites. Their attention was in obeying their rules only. Such rules were only in external things.
So we have to give importance to the eternally valuable matter. Here Jesus had mentioned three things.
1). Justice- Justice was neglected by the Jews. Prophets were also reminded it. Amos was a prophet of justice. He told the people that God was not pleasing in their sacrifices and observances because they neglected the justice and righteousness. (Refer the verses, Amos 5: 21-25, Isaiah 2:11-17).
Often Jesus used the word Righteousness instead of justice. It is having the experience of making ourselves a sacrifice for the blessing of others. It is not the righteousness of scribes and Pharisees
2), Mercy- It is having compassion on others. Jesus felt mercy on those who were sick, hungry, and people in need. He was merciful even to sinners. He was compassionate on the multitude like sheep without Shepherd. Mat 9:36.
3). Faithfulness- It is the character of Jesus. Hebrews 3:2. Faithfulness is the basis of a successful life. Without being faithful we can't be sons of God. The hypocrisy itself is the absence of faithfulness. We are pretending more than what we are.
So a life neglecting all these virtues and observe some rules is not acceptable to Jesus. These are the important matters in the life. The rest of the verses are explanations of their hypocritical nature. V. 24, the blind guides V. 25, 26, external cleanliness of cups and dishes. V. 27, 28, white washed tomb.
All these verses revealed that their external appearances were very pious and modest but internally they were blind guides, and like externally glittering cups and dishes and the beautiful tomb. Though externally they appear as good, Jesus said inside of them are full of greed and self-indulgence. So we can understand that those cups were representing them. A tomb however they seemed nice, inside of it is having rotten dead bodies producing the rotten smell. So what is essential is internal holiness, not external appearance.
When we think of this passage we have to think of ourselves. Are we also not hypocrites like those Pharisees? Externally we are very nice people. We go to Church regularly, participate in Holy Communion, used to give all money we ought to give, we pray, sometimes fast and all observances are done properly. But do we follow the footprints of Jesus? Are we ready to live for others like Jesus our Lord? As we are observing our Republic Day today let’s think whether the poor and needy people in India are getting justice or not.
Lord we need to have the lifestyle of Jesus and help us to dedicate ourselves to have the mindset of Jesus. Amen.
Thought for the Day
“Justice is for those who deserve it; mercy is for those who don't”. - Woodrow Kroll
Rev. Raju Thomas
Ebenezer MTC, Kavumbhagom, Tiruvalla.