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Monday, February 22, 2021

Rulers

By Kevin V. Rutherford

    The lust for power and authority will ruin a person. A desire for self-glorification will destroy a soul. Individuals like this will forever be blinded by their arrogance, and they will not be able to see themselves as they are. They cannot understand what is happening around them. They only see what they want to see. They only see what justifies their sense of self-importance.
    In our study of the Gospel of Matthew on Wednesday nights we have seen individuals who fit the description just given. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were rulers among the Jews who, though powerful and wealthy, did not seem to be intoxicated with their power and wealth (John 3:1-2; 19:38-42; Mark 15:42-47). However, most of the rulers of the Jews in Jesus’ day loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. They hated Jesus because He exposed their sin (John 7:7). They were envious of Jesus because the multitudes praised Him instead of them (Matthew 2:18).
    Their arrogance led them to the point they chose to kill Jesus. Their lust and love of power, influence, wealth, authority, position, and the praise of men caused them to come to a point of extreme malice. Extreme enough to seek the most painful and shameful method of execution for the one who seemed to have more influence among the multitudes than they.
    The target of their bitter hatred was the Divine Son of God. It was Jesus who had come in the flesh. Jesus lived a life of love, compassion, service, humility, and patience. He was good. Good in the sense that God is perfectly holy in every way. Those who wanted Him dead were evil. They were obsessed with the kind of evil that poisons a person’s heart when he gives himself over to arrogance.
    Matthew chapter twenty-three records Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus said, “all their works they do to be seen by men” (Matthew 23:5). He called them “hypocrites,” “fools,” and “blind”. Jesus said they were “serpents, a brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33), and He rhetorically questioned whether or not they could escape the condemnation of hell. In contrast, consider the time the Lord washed the feet of the disciples (John 13). Jesus acted in such a way as to demonstrate timeless lessons of humility and service. God, on His knees to serve man was showing us the way to view ourselves in relation to others.
    Consider also the fact that though the Creator has unlimited wisdom, knowledge, and power, He emptied Himself and became a man, then suffered and died on the cross (Philippians 2:5-11). Men scramble for glory, power, and praise, and when they receive “chief seats,” they hold on to them at all costs. God gave up heaven, emptied Himself, became flesh, dwelt among man, served man, and died for man. The Creator allowed the creation to brutally torture Him and kill Him. The creation gladly did so out of a lust for power, from a heart of envy, and from the bitterness of hearts soaked in sin and enveloped in evil. Their lust for power, led them to lust for blood. Their arrogance brought them to dark places. But the Creator humbly died for His creation.
    The Bible says, “nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). Those who do good deeds to receive the praise of men, have their reward in that praise (Matthew 6:2). Those who pray for show so as to look good before men, have their reward in the praise of men (Matthew 6:5). The hypocrites who wanted to disfigure their faces and look sad while fasting so as to receive praise from men, have their reward in the praise they receive from men (Matthew 6:16). What a shame it would be if all the reward one ever received was the praise of men, for the praise of men will mean nothing when the Lord returns in judgment upon all nations.
- Kevin V. Rutherford preaches for the Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/


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