2 “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. 4 For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5 Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others. They make extra-wide prayer bands for their arms and long tassels for their clothes. 6 They love to sit in places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues. 7 They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’
8 “But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. 9 Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly. 10 Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher. 11 But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.
In Jesus’ day (and still today), many leaders (even religious ones) wanted exalted, lofty titles. Scholar William Barclay wrote, “The Pharisees liked to be addressed as Rabbi and to be treated with the greatest respect. They even claimed…greater respect than that given to parents, for, they said, a man’s parents give him ordinary, physical life, but a man’s teacher gives him eternal life.” * Jesus said his Kingdom was not about high-status in position or title. Greatness lay in serving others selflessly.
Lord Jesus, keep purifying my motivations as I serve. May my meaning and sense of worth come more from you each day—until my service is about you, not me. Amen.
* William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew—Volume 2 Chapters 11–28 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 287.
** Wright, N. T., Matthew for Everyone, Part 2 (The New Testament for Everyone) (pp. 98-99). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.