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Breakthrough To God

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted
Matthew 23:1-12

Sermon Topic Humility

Sermon Week Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 23:12


Sunday school teacher: "Johnny, can you tell me who will wear the biggest crown in heaven?" Johnny: "Sure. The one who has the biggest head."

"Not so," Jesus tells us in today's Gospel Lesson as He once again castigates the Pharisees. He calls them "frauds." He says "They do all their deeds to be seen by men" (Mt. 23:5). He says "They love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called 'Rabbi' by men" (Mt. 23:6-7). He says, in other words, "They have big heads." Jesus calls them "blind fools" because they are so puffed up that they have shut themselves off from the possibility of wisdom and truth penetrating from without. They are so full of themselves they are unable to hear the truth about themselves. Not even God can get through. Jesus continues: "He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Mt. 23:12).

Although rain had been predicted, a Shakespearean company was giving a performance of "Romeo and Juliet" in an outdoor summer theater. In the middle of the first act it began to rain. But that didn't discourage the audience of veteran theatergoers. They had brought with them plastic garbage bags with two peep-holes cut into them. They pulled the bags over their heads and continued to watch the play. Following the performance, one of the actors said, "It was like playing to five hundred wet zucchini."

Hearing Jesus' choice of words about the Pharisees, we can safely assume that trying to get His message through to them was like playing to wet zucchini.

The unknown author of the Old Testament Book of Malachi lived about five hundred years before Jesus. It is believed that He remained anonymous because he feared reprisals from the holier-than-thou, puffed up, self-righteous, big-headed authorities whom he criticized as severely as Jesus criticized the Pharisees. Like the Pharisees, their minds and hearts were closed to the Word of God. They were the wet [...]

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