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Mar 28 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Seventy-one – Matthew 23:1-12

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you
The scribes and Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. Matthew 23:2-4

Remarkably, Jesus told the crowds and disciples to do as the Pharisees taught when they took the teacher’s chair in the synagogue, yet the point of Jesus’ conflict with the Pharisees was precisely their interpretation of the Law of Moses–for example, Sabbath-keeping, purification rituals, fasting, and so on. On a positive note, however, the scribes and Pharisees did demonstrate a great devotion to the Scriptures.

The first of Jesus’ criticism of the scribes and Pharisees was that they did not live up to what they taught and, furthermore, they placed heavy burdens on people they themselves were unwilling to help carry. Religion will always have its people who say the right words, but do not live the truth, people who play for a human audience and love positions and official titles, people who are more image than substance.

Is living for God a heavy burden? Is a righteous life a heavy burden? Is it not sin and guilt that are the heavy burdens? But there is a way that some people define Christian duties and obligations that make it a burden–a bundle of rules.

We give You thanks, Lord God, for what this teaching tells us about the Teacher. There are times when we are bent over with a great burden that we must carry–and we have enough of them without the added load that religious people would place on us. Jesus, who invites those who are “heavy laden” to come to Him, gets under our burdens with us and carries them as if they belonged to Him. Yoked with Him, Jesus is forever with us, our closest Companion, our Savior.

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