Matthew 23: 1-12 (1)

Let God do God’s own work in us
Reading: Matthew 23: 1-12
Blanks: practice, preach, Notice, equal, one, Messiah, humbles
Prop: dried noodles

(3) In the time of Jesus, the Bible was very expensive.
So, many people didn’t have the Bible at home.
So how could they learn about God?

Well, there was a group of people who studied the Bible together at their religious schools.
Other people thought that they understood the Bible.
So people respected them, and asked them to teach.
So, this group of people started to teach.
But they didn’t really know what they were talking about.
They didn’t know how to practice what God said.
They misunderstood the Bible.

But then people asked them to give them some spiritual rules to follow.
So, they made spiritual rules, a lot of spiritual rules for them to follow.
But since they really didn’t know who God is, they made some wrong rules.
Some of those rules had nothing to do with God.
Besides, many of those rules were too difficult to follow.
Even God could not keep those rules.
The fact is God does not like many of those rules.
But then they were proud of being the religious law and rules makers.

But because it was difficult and impossible to follow those rules, many people didn’t practice what they taught.
Then when they didn’t follow their rules, these proud religious lawmakers said to them:
“You sinners!”
This wasn’t nice.
This wasn’t fare.

But then they made more rules.
Then they asked people to practice these rules.
They made their life difficult, more difficult than what it should be.
And they took secret pleasure in watching them struggling to keep those rules.

(3) (Example) It is like this:
When they prepare a meal, they could have cooked their food.
They could have cooked their noodles or pasta.
But instead, they gave food that was not cooked.
Their food was difficult to eat.
But then they asked people to eat it.
If people didn't eat them, they said: “you are sinners.”

They really didn’t understand God.
They didn’t know how to obey God, either.
But since people treated them important, they wanted to be called, Teacher, or Leader.
They liked to receive honors.
(3) And they started to make religious garments like this.
Then they liked to show up.
They wanted people to watch them and talk about them.

Thinking that people admired them, they wanted to have more authority over people.
They wanted more attention and power.
Without knowing, they wanted people to obey them instead of God.
So, one day, they would be humbled.

(3) So, Jesus came to stop this nonsense.
Then Jesus said something like this:
“Just be content and simply be yourself.
Don’t try to puff yourself up.
Don’t try to stand out.
Just be yourself.
Or if you want to be greater, then try to step down and be a servant.
Humble yourself so that God can lift you up.”

“Also know that God is looking inside of your hearts.
And know that God cares more about what is going on in your heart.
God is not interested in your rules but your heart.
God cares more about who you are.
So God wants to change your hearts.
Let me help you to love God and love people.
Otherwise, you have no chance to get to know who God is.
Then Jesus said something like this to all the people:
“Well, because you don’t have the Bible at home, I guess you may listen to these law makers.
But know that you don’t have to do what they ask you to do.
Because sometimes, they don’t understand the Bible.
I think that people cannot become your teachers anymore about spiritual matters.
From now on God has to be your only teacher.
And everyone else is your classmates.
God is your teacher.
So, don’t have another teacher.
Don’t be another teacher.
Simply give God the chance to teach you.
Allow God to lead you.
Allow God to work in you and among you.
Allow God to help you believe in God.
Then you will see clearly.

Then since Jesus is God, Jesus is saying:
“I am your only teacher.
And everyone else is your classmates.”

So, let Jesus be the Teacher.
Let Jesus show you the way.
Let’s learn from him.
Think about what he said.
And try to understand his words.
Then you will learn more of God.
Then you will learn how to live your life.
You will know what is like to put God first in your lives.

In fact, only when Jesus helps us, we get to know God personally.
Then you will know how to be faithful to God.
You will be able to love God.
You will be able to love like God.
Only God can help you continually believe in God.
Only Jesus can help you grow in God and be a follower of God.

Let's pray:
Jesus, you know what's in our hearts.
Come and change our hearts.
Continually do your work within us and among us.
Thank you for your works within us and among us.
Thank you for taking care of our future.
We pray this in Jesus name.

Bring our Heart to God to change us.