While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, (Luke 20:45)What is Jesus trying to tell his disciples - and indicate to people in general?
He is speaking of the Jewish teachers who controlled the interpretation of scripture and dominated the Jewish society at the time. The phrase, "teachers of the law" comes from the Greek word γραμματεύς (grammateus). This word refers to a scribe or teacher that interprets scripture.
During Jesus' time, a person in this role received great respect. The sentence of anyone who was accused of breaking scriptural law - or criminal law - was usually determined by such a scribe. As a result, they held the seats of honor and wore long robes. And when they traveled through the streets or markets, they were greeted with great respect.
Jesus comments here that they were not only interested in the respect of others. They also took advantage of their followers. They were profiting from their positions. This meant when the man of a household died, the Temple would seize the household wealth - thereby taking the money that should have belonged to the widow.
This is not an isolated situation. Thoughout history we find many will utilize the post of religious teacher to take advantage of their followers. We find this even today, as so many hold positions of professional teachers, making comfortable salaries off the backs of poor people who are intimidated or coerced into making donations.
For this reason, Jesus didn't want his disciples to earn money from preaching. He not only railed against professional preaching as with this verse. But he also specifically instructed his disciples to not carry a bag or purse or belt to hold money as they went out to teach:
“Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals..." (Luke 10:4 NKJV)The Greek word βαλλάντιον (ballantion) means a purse, bag or belt for carrying money.
Why did he instruct them not to bring a purse or money belt? Because he didn't want them collecting money in return for their preaching. He wanted them to require or demand no compensation for their service to God.
This is an important point in terms of whom we choose as a teacher as well. Those who collect money in return for their teaching services are not serving God. They are performing a service in return for a salary. Therefore, they are disqualified as a true teacher and servant of God.
Such a position is evidenced by its fruits. Those who take salaried positions as preachers and priests become thirsty for power and authority. Their positions lead them to a need to be honored by others and they begin to take advantage of their positions - as we have seen with many Catholic priests who have abused their followers.
Why would these people do such a thing? Why did they become abusive? Why did they like to be honored by others, and why would they think they have the right to take advantage of their followers?
Because they think of themselves as superior to others.
This feeling of superiority comes in various forms. Not just by professional preachers and priests - but people throughout the world who take advantage of others or otherwise mistreat others.
Despite their supposed roles in passing along Jesus' teachings and the teachings of the Prophets, they assume roles that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus and the Prophets.
Yes, these teachers were supposedly representing the Prophets and their teachings. Yet by their actions, they were contradicting those very teachings.
Consider for example, this statement about Moses:
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3)David reflected this in one of his hymns - referring to the Supreme Being:
"You save the humble..." (2 Samuel 22:28)In this same hymn, David also writes:
"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior — from violent people You save me." (2 Samuel 22:2-3)Note that the word "LORD" is translated from the word יְהֹוָה (Yĕhovah). David is referring to the Supreme Being.
Isaiah also used this Name of God when he wrote:
Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD (Isaiah 29:19)We find a similar statement written by Zephaniah as declared by the LORD:
"But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the Name of the LORD." (Zephaniah 3:12)We find similar teachings by Jesus:
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matt. 23:12 and Luke 14:11)Thus we find the basic principle of humility common among the Prophets and Jesus. Why is this so important?
We also find in some of the verses above that humility is the key to being able to praise and glorify God. What is the connection? To praise and glorify the Supreme Being requires by default that we admit that we are not the greatest.
This is, in fact, our disease. We think that we are something special. We think that we are, in one way or another, the greatest.
And this material universe allows us this illusion to think that each of us is the greatest. This material world gives us the opportunity to gain some kind of position or role that allows us to believe that we are something special. One might become, for example, a chess champion in some community. Or perhaps a person scores a game-winning touchdown or goal in the big game. Or perhaps a person wins a track race and gets a gold medal. Or perhaps a person becomes the CEO of a business, or the mayor of a town.
Most of us would admit that none of these positions would allow a person to really become the greatest. Yet at the moment this person gains that temporary position of honor, that's exactly what we will do: We'll consider ourselves the greatest - the most important person.
This is the illusion of the material world. And it is set up specifically by the Supreme Being to allow us the opportunity to see ourselves in the role of being the greatest.
You see, this is because only the Supreme Being is actually the greatest. Yet because He endowed each of His children with a spark of Himself, each of us has the choice to want to be the greatest: Each of us has the choice to either love and serve ourselves as the greatest - or love and serve God as the Greatest. This means, in essence, the choice between love of God and envy of God.
This puts each of us in the precise situation where God wants us to be in: Where we have the complete freedom to love Him or not.
Just think about it. What if you were God and you had all the control. You could do anything you wanted. But you also wanted to exchange a loving relationship with others. Would you create robots that did whatever you wanted them to do? That would get a little boring, wouldn't it?
No. You would create people that had the choice to love you or not, right? They could choose to love you or choose to be jealous of you. This is the only way that your creations could actually make a free choice to love you, right? And if you exerted your control over this freedom to love you or not, then it really would not be love, would it?
This is the position of the Supreme Being. He gave us this ultimate choice - to love Him and humble ourselves before Him - or become envious of Him and strive to be the greatest.
And those who decide to strive to be the greatest have the extra benefit of not having the Real Greatest Person (God) in the way. This is why we can't see God with the physical eyes in this world.
This scenario gives the Supreme Being the enjoyment of exchanging true loving relationships with those who freely choose to submit themselves before Him.
We are talking about the Supreme Person here, not some monolith floating in space. We are speaking about the Source of everyone and everything. The Person who everyone is a small spark of. He has every capacity we have, except that He is the source of all our capacities. Whatever capacity any of us have, He has that capacity at its maximum. He has every capacity to its perfection.
This means that whatever beauty exists - He is the perfection of beauty. Whatever kindness exists, He is the perfection of kindness. Whatever love exists, He is the perfection of love. The Supreme Being is everything we have ever wanted or wanted to be. He is everything we have ever wanted to see in others.
God is the Perfect Person.
So if we decide to give up our fruitless chase for greatness, and we want a true loving relationship - one that never ends; one that has no limits; one where we can truly be ourselves - then we need the Supreme Being. We need to make the choice to return to our innate loving service relationship with God.
This requires humbling ourselves before Him - and accepting that He is the greatest and we are not. It requires understanding that He is our only real shelter. He is our only real protector. He is our only real Friend. He is the One Person we can trust at the end of the day.
Such a position achieves the ultimate in humility - because it states that we cannot provide our own shelter. We cannot protect ourselves.
Forget trying to act humble. Trying to appear to others as humble. This is not real humility. This is pretend humility. It is show humility - for the purpose of impressing others.
Needing God's protection is the only real humble position. Jesus clarified this position of protection by the Supreme Being:
"Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your Name, the Name you gave me..." (John 17:11)We find this connection above among the teachings of the Prophets as well - this connection between humility and taking shelter in God - and praising and glorifying the Supreme Being and His Holy Name.
Jesus himself, in his prayer to God above, as well as Isaiah and Zephaniah above, testifies to the potency of the Holy Name of God.
Jesus says, "protect them by the power of Your Name." And we find similar statements above - "trust in the Name of the LORD". Why? What is so special about the Name of God? It's just a name isn't it?
No. It is the Name of the Perfect Person. The Name of the Greatest Person. The Name of the Person who is the Master of everything and everyone.
As such, this Name is not just another name. It is endowed with the potency of the Supreme Being Himself.
You see, in the physical realm there is duality. The entities of this material world can be given one name now, and another name later. One can get their name changed, or get a new name after marriage. So here our name is different that we are. We are separate from our name.
The Supreme Being maintains no such duality. The Name of the Supreme Being is not separate from God. His Holy Name thus contains His potency. His power. Himself.
This is why God gave this instruction:
"Wherever I cause My Name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you." (Exodus 20:24)Why? Because when we call upon the Holy Name of God with humility, respect and love, He will be there for us.
This makes approaching the Supreme Being pretty simple. Not easy, because losing our sense of superiority and our feeling that we are the greatest isn't easy. But simple in that we don't have to join any church or religious institution to connect with God. To connect with God, we don't need to follow some professional preacher or institution that seeks to take advantage of their followers.
We simply need to, with humility, reverence and love, call out His Holy Names and praise Him. This alone will save us.
Find more scriptural evidence for the power of praising God's Holy Names.