“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.”
Jesus uses strong words to express his feelings and warnings about the hypocritical leaders of his day, specifically some of the leaders in Jerusalem. He tells people to beware of these so called, religious leaders since they are more worried about pomp and circumstance than actually leading the people of God. Jesus warns the people of his time that there are way too many people who want to give the appearance of faith and their interest in leading people to God, but rather than actually being the leaders God asks them to be, they are something far less. Even more, they tend to do the opposite. With their words and haughty assumptions they lead people away from God and damage their faith.
2000 years later, we seem to be no better. How many leaders in our world claim to be religious leaders but are no better than the religious leaders Jesus is warning us about. Oh, sure they offer the impression of concern, leadership and faith, and may even do a couple high profile things to keep people admiring them and honoring them, but everything else is about them and how they are seen.
There are some religious leaders today, that do exactly what Jesus is critical of in the Gospel. Long tassels ( distinctive dress) and places of honor (love the accolades and the adoring that they are given in public events). It is a wonder that we can’t seem to learn what Jesus tried to teach us centuries ago.
If there is one thing that infuriates Jesus is being phony and hypocritical. Jesus saves his sharpest venom for those who claim to be leaders, but their actions demonstrate selfishness, greed and pomposity. Jesus wants us to be aware of the same kind of hypocrisy in our leaders today. Beware of those who talk the talk but refuse to walk the walk. Beware of those who do one or two things to placate the people but overall are more damaging and misleading to those who follow them.
There are plenty of these types of leaders out there and they are very very good at giving the appearance of faith filled leaders. It takes a keen eye to see behind the masks and the hypocrisy that lays within.