Represent or mispresent? Following the example of Jesus
Shortly after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion, He spent time teaching during this last week of his earthly ministry. Jesus taught on eight different topics related to questions asked by the Pharisees, scribes, and teachers of the law, followed by His teaching on the Great Commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind; the second is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In Matthew 23, Jesus focused on how the core of His teaching was being represented by the religious leaders of his day. He pointed out how these religious leaders misrepresented what He came to teach and preach.
Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So, you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” Jesus pointed out how these religious teachers did what they did for an outward appearance alone.
Jesus announced seven “woe” statements about these leaders. A “woe” statement is a painful statement of displeasure with implied judgement. It is the opposite of a beatitude. Jesus said their teaching was false, misleading, a blatant misrepresentation. The third “woe” statement points out how these religious leaders were careful to comply with the tithe of spices: mint, dill, and cumin, beyond the normal requirement, yet missed the more critical issues of the Mosaic Law. Echoing the Old Testament prophets, Micah in particular, Jesus said the more important matters of the law are justice, mercy, and faithfulness. The prophet Micah frames this trio as “do justice, love mercy, walk humbly before your God.” These religious teachers misrepresented the heart of God for vulnerable people and the core of Jesus’ teaching about treating others with justice, mercy, and faith.
Our mission at Buckner International is to “Follow the example of Jesus by serving vulnerable children, families, and seniors.” Our highest aspiration at Buckner is to practice what we preach, to do what we say, and accurately represent Jesus, our leader. The only kind of religion acceptable to God was articulated by James, the half-brother of Jesus, who said “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
If Buckner has a secret sauce, this is it. Our mission is what sets us apart. It leads us to imagine a vision of setting the standard of excellence by serving vulnerable children, families, and seniors.
On Sunday, May 30, 2021, at 10:45 am I will serve as the guest preacher for a Joint Service of Royal Haven Baptist Church, The Promise Church, The Empowerment Church, and Oikos Fellowship to celebrate their 2021 graduates. I will speak on this topic. Thank you, Pastors Rick Dorman, Sergio Ramos, Javier Rios, and Tony Wainaina for hosting me.