All Sermons
Service leader?
Bible Passage Matthew 23: 1- 12
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2023 & books Deuteronomy, Mark, Matthew, Numbers.

Service leader?

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached September 20, 2023

1 Then Jesus told the crowds and his disciples,

2 “The scribes and the Pharisees administer the authority of Moses,

3 So do whatever they tell you and follow it, but stop doing what they do, because they don’t do what they say.

4 They tie up burdens that are heavy and unbearable and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they refuse to lift a finger to remove them.

5 “They do everything to be seen by people. They increase the size of their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.

6 They love to have the places of honor at festivals, the best seats in the synagogues,

7 to be greeted in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have only one teacher, and all of you are brothers.

9 And don’t call anyone on earth ‘Father,’ because you have only one Father, the one in heaven.

10 Nor are you to be called ‘Teachers,’ because you have only one teacher, the Messiah!

11 The person who is greatest among you must be your servant.

12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.


God had given the law to Moses long ago and the Jews had to obey God’s laws. The scribes and the Pharisees were responsible for teaching the law to the people. But the Pharisees had added hundreds of their own rules to explain God’s law. They said that people should obey all these rules. But they often avoided their own rules. Jesus did not want people to copy this bad behaviour. These teachers tried to appear good, but they wanted honour for themselves rather than for God.

Instead of teaching only the law of Moses, the scribes and Pharisees added countless laws of their own. Instead of making the people’s load lighter, they made it heavier. People could profit from listening to the scribes’ teaching of Moses’ law, but they were not to copy the scribes’ behaviour.

Jesus gave two specific reasons for His condemnation of the scribes. First, they wanted to make a display of their religious devotion so that they might win praise from others. Second, they paid strict attention to small details of law-keeping but they ignored the law’s real meaning. Jesus gave a list of examples.

Phylacteries were small leather boxes containing finely written portions of the law that people strapped on their foreheads and arms. The phylacteries contained tiny paper rolls on which the laws were written. They wrote four passages from God’s Word on each little roll. Jews wore one or more on their arms and one on their foreheads. But the Pharisees wore very large phylacteries so people could notice them.

Tassels were decorations sewn on the fringes of their clothes to remind them to keep God’s law. The scribes made their phylacteries and tassels extra large to impress people with their devotion to the law (verse 5; compare Num 15:38-39; Deut 11:18 ).

The Pharisees liked people to think that they were important. So they wanted the seats that were next to their hosts at parties. They liked to sit on the seats in front of everybody in the building where they met to worship God. Then they could look at everyone who was there. And everyone would notice who was sitting in the front seat.
In public meetings, the scribes tried to get the most important seats, and they loved the feeling of status when their students greeted them respectfully in public.

They liked people to give them the greatest respect. They liked titles that gave them honour. They liked to be called names like ‘Rabbi’ which means ‘My teacher’. They even liked people to call them ‘father’. Jesus said that Christians have only one teacher, who is Christ. Christians have only one father who made them, who is God. And with God as their father, Christians are all brothers and sisters.

Jesus rebuked them with the reminder that the only true teacher, father, and master was God, and He would humble those who tried to make themselves great (verse 6-12; Mark 12:38-39).

Jesus emphasized that a Christian should serve other people. God gives honour to people who deserve it. Proud people do not really praise God. Instead, they just praise themselves. But God will destroy their pride. He will also know which people are really humble. He will reward them and give them honour.

🔷 Tittles and human honour should not be the intention of human beings but opportunities to serve God diligently

🔷 God knows our intentions for all our actions and rewards them appropriately

🔷 God will humble the proud and exalt the humble

🔷 Leaders must not only write on their profiles that they are humble leaders but must exhibit servant leadership in all their actions and decisions

💥 Pray that every leadership position you occupy shall honour God
💥 Ask God to forgive you any act of wickedness and personal aggrandizement

Christians must be grateful to God for any opportunity to serve and do so with much humility and love for their fellows. They should not want to honour themselves but wait when God Himself exalts them.

In series Bright Morning Reflections