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As crowds gathered around Jesus, He told them, “Those experts in the rules are your leaders, so you should do what they say. But DON’T do what they do. Because they don’t do the things they say you should do!
“They make heavy backpacks of rules for people to carry, but they won’t even lift a finger to help carry those loads.
“They just do stuff for show to get noticed, like their fancy religious clothes with all their decorations. And they looooove to have the best seats at parties and in the religious buildings.
“They like it when people give them special attention and special greetings like, ‘Hello, Teacher’ or ‘Good day, Father.’ They really like how it feels to be called, ‘Rabbi’ or ‘Teacher’ or ‘Pastor’ or ‘Father.’ It makes them feel important or good about themselves.”
Jesus’ followers probably looked around and saw many people starting to squirm. They were probably thinking, “What do You mean, Jesus? EVERYBODY does that.”
But Jesus told them, “But I don’t want you doing that. None of you. Do not call anyone or let anyone call you by special religious titles, like ‘Rabbi’ or ‘Teacher’ or ‘Father.’ You only have ONE Teacher, Me. And you only have ONE Father, and He’s in Heaven. And don’t be called ‘Head Teacher’ or ‘Master’ because you only have ONE master and teacher — the Messiah. You’re all just brothers!”
As this big story continues, you’ll see that some of these men He’s talking to will go on to become strong men of God who will lead Jesus’ Family in powerful ways. But Jesus is telling them, from the very beginning: don’t let anyone call you by special names and titles. Ever. You’re all just brothers.
Now God clearly gives special assignments to His children (like He did with these men He was talking to), and some of those assignments involve helping and leading other people. But special titles and names and clothes and positions — like “Teacher Bob” or “Father Brown” or “Master Pastor Billy” — NO WAY! And people who are the automatic bosses or talkers or singers — uh-uh! How could that be fun? God’s ways are way better and more fun that that!
Does this sound like something we talked about before? Yes! Like the difference between how Samuel was a leader versus Saul. Samuel was a leader because he walked with God. God had touched his life in a special way, and people wanted to be close to him and needed him because of his relationship with God. But he was not the official anything. He didn’t have a title, and he didn’t have an office.
But Saul was a leader because he was the official, titled guy in charge. He was the picked guy, and he was still always “the king” regardless of the fruit of his life or the closeness of his relationship with God. As you remember, when men are picked to “be king” and have a position, and title and be the boss of God’s Family — God says that’s when trouble comes. He said, “Samuel, they’re not rejecting you by wanting this picked, boss guy; they’re rejecting Me as their king.”
So let’s let God be the only King and let Him lead His Family by using gifted men who are snuggled up close to Him in relationship, like Samuel. You’ll find this is a beautiful and fun and wonderful Way.
Jesus continued, “The greatest among you, God’s Real leaders and experts, will be a servant, not the ones with special titles and special, ‘made up’ clothes. The one who pridefully lifts himself up, will be brought low and humbled. But the one who humbles himself, will be lifted up.“