SIMON THE LEPER
33 AD – The Day of the Lord – Mount of Olives, Judea
For Simon, the past three days of the Passover was a blur of intense tug-of-war between the Jewish leadership and Jesus. Everyday he came into the Temple court and taught the people on the steps of Solomon’s Columns. He taught much and soon even the elites of the city came to hear him teach. Of course, as expected, his lessons were always interrupted by those who sought to discredit him, mostly the priesthood lackies trying to catch him in either blasphemy or reasons to betray him to the Romans. To the relief of his followers and the delight of the crowd, he brilliantly thwarted their attempts to no avail. Simon felt though that they will come at Jesus with such greater endeavor before the Passover day tomorrow.
Jesus was finishing the latest parable he was imparting to the crowd, when Simon saw an exceptional group of scribes and Pharisees, many of whom were of the Sanhedrin, were approaching for another bout. Jesus saw them too. Then he stood up like he was about to orate. He turned first to Peter and the others. He smiled and Simon knew that Jesus is going to say something controversial.
Then he turned to the crowd and said, “The scribes and the 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. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.
“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” [Matthew 23:1-12]
Angry murmurs were coming from the Pharisees and scribes, while confusion was coming from his own group. They were caught off guard. They didn’t expect and understand why he was attacking them. Jesus criticized them for taking the place of honor at banquets, for wearing such ostentatious clothing, for encouraging people to call them Rabbi. For this he reminded the people that it was not them who are their true leader but only Christ. He was telling people that the true servants of God are not them who exalt themselves but those that humbles himself.
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