Complaints That Closed The Synagogue

One of the blessings of study is learning more and more about Jewish customs and culture. Personally, it keeps me interested in the Bible as I learn new details every year as I study
for sermons and Sunday school lessons. It is interesting to think that the same issues we
experience today were felt in Bible times. How do you keep people faithful? How do you stop
them from following every new exciting charismatic leader? As Jesus’ ministry took off, we read
He was followed by multitudes and great multitudes of people. The religious leaders of the day were jealous and envious of His following. I am sure they thought, “Why will people show up for Jesus, but will not show up for Sabbath?” This is because Jesus was offering them truth, and the leaders of the day had developed some unbiblical attitudes that were driving people away from God and synagogue. As we read the Bible and follow Christ’s ministry, we see these complaints made by those in charge that discouraged faithfulness.

1. Look at Me Mentality
Matthew 6:1-2, 5-8, 17-21 “…that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”
The sermon on the mount is still the best basic doctrine course in the Bible. Jesus covers a multitude of principles, practices, and gives something for everyone. Half of chapter 6 is wrapped up in teaching personal religion. The leaders of the day were worried about being seen. v1, being noticed v2, being heard v7, appearance v16, and wealth v19. God rewarded them accordingly: they were seen of men. The problem with this approach to Christianity though is paradoxical. If you strive for men’s attention, you will get it, but you will not build a ministry or a church. If you seek to have a personal relationship with God, then you will be blessed openly. Do not neglect the outward things. Dress nice, dress appropriately. Obviously your left hand and right hand have no knowledge, but the principle is clear: a personal, private
relationship with God should be priority in the lives of preachers. It is where you will get the attention of God in your life and ministry. It is where you will receive what you ask for even
when you do not know what you need as perfectly as God does.

2. Selective Respect
Matthew 23:1-11 “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
The Pharisees get a scorching rebuke here from Jesus. The book of Matthew details the judgment called upon their heads starting in verse 12 to the end of the chapter. So much is there to cover, but not enough space to cover it for now. What begins this entire chapter call-down by Jesus is a notice of what the Pharisees expect. They expect others to do but do not themselves v3, they give others burdens they cannot bear v4, they do their works to be seen of men v5, they love to have preferred places v6, and they love their titles of respect v7. They wanted respect, but would never treat others as they wanted to be treated. I grew up in a house that was respectful, but never was taught to say “yes ma’am” or “yes sir”. As I attended church, I began to pick up the habit. The day that changed my life to emphasize it was when a deacon of my church addressed me with a “yes sir” response. It was a simple conversation where out of habit this older man responded to me (a teenager) with “yes sir”. I was blown away at the amount of respect he and many others in the church gave to me that I did not deserve. I decided that day that I would be respectful to everyone. A child, a teen, someone I like, someone I do not like, or any person in the world would receive from me kind words and respectful responses. Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.

There are many practical things church leaders do to try to make a bigger impact. I wonder sometimes as I read the scriptures what it was like overseeing a synagogue. Did they worry back then (they surely do now) about attendance? Did they struggled to maintain what they have, or did they strive to grow it? There are many other lessons in the New Testament along these lines. The leader that will emphasize personally a private relationship with God, and treat all they come into contact with respect is the leader who will grow their ministry. Teens are naturally gifted at weeding out people who are fake. Have a real walk, and a real religion, and teens will notice. Treat every person no matter how they look, no matter how they talk, and no matter how they act with respect. You will find that just like David gathered undesirable people to make his mighty men that your ministry will grow as you practice these principles.
Pastor Jesse McCammon
Calvary Baptist Church | Flora, IL
Calvary Baptist
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