Matthew 23:1-12 (NRSV)
Chapter 23Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, Verse 2"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; Verse 3therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. Verse 4They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. Verse 5They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. Verse 6They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, Verse 7and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. Verse 8But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. Verse 9And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father-the one in heaven. Verse 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. Verse 11The greatest among you will be your servant. Verse 12All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Our five-year-old granddaughter was preparing to show us a gymnastics move prior to her class. Standing a few feet from us, she abruptly stopped, and said aloud to herself, “Focus!” paused, and then proceeded to demonstrate her gymnastic moves!
The moves and actions that Jesus was preparing the crowds and the disciples to do was his invitation for them to “focus” so they might reach out to serve people. They were called to recognize that they needed to fix their attention on the “One” true teacher who leads them through life. Jesus calls his followers to lives that are focused on one teacher, the one Father, the one instructor who is the example for them to follow. That focus will allow his disciples not to be misled by the example and words of false teachers. Perhaps in these words Jesus is also calling us to pause and “focus” our moves on him throughout our daily lives. Then we will have lots of room for faithful actions in our serving! Thanks be to God!
God of All Creation, may we pause during the minutes of our day to realize where our full attention is leading us. Help us to “focus” on the abundant gifts you have given to us for service to others. We pray covered by the love of Jesus, our Redeemer. Amen.