Jesus warns his followers against those who abuse the authority they have been given as leaders. He pointed out the ways they made a big deal out of themselves by the way they dressed, how they required their followers to address them formally, and how they assumed places of honor and privilege at banquets. Beyond these things, these leaders also abused their power and authority by taking advantage of those who followed them, especially the most vulnerable groups of people at the time—such as widows.
Scott Boren reminded us that just as religious leaders of Jesus’ time sometimes abused power, so also today there are those in the church who abuse their power. Scott suggested that we could use the same identifiers that Jesus used two thousand years ago to help us be alert to where abuses may lie in our own time.
True leadership, power and authority are made evident in Jesus. Rather than creating relationships that can feel like bondage or entrapment, Jesus makes us free! Free from sin, free from guilt, free from oppressive powers, and more importantly, free TO live as we were intended to live. Free to use our gifts and be who God created us to be.
While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”