Summary: Jesus hated pride and used the Pharisees to highlight the evils of that sin. But why would God hate pride, and how would I know if I suffer from it?
Last Sunday we introduced the “Upside Down Teachings of Jesus”. The teaching of Jesus that just don’t make sense to most people. Today’s sermon will continue that theme by focusing on Jesus’ teaching: “the Last shall be First, and the First shall be Last”.
OPEN: When my dad first married my mom, they were sharecroppers. They’d rent farms and work them for a percentage of the income from the crops. One of the ways he subsidized his income was by milking cows and he had about a dozen cows out in the barn.
One day a salesman came to the farm wanting to show dad a new device called a “milking machine”. Instead of milking by hand, these marvelous new contraptions would fit right on the cows’ udders and when you turned it on and it would milk the cow for you. The salesman made his pitch and asked to show dad how it worked.
“Well,” dad said “You can use it on any cow in the barn except old Bessie down on the end”
Bessie was a mean and temperamental cow that would kick viciously if angered.
“Really?” the salesman said – obviously thinking dad was too young to know anything about real farming. And with an attitude that stated, “you’re just a boy, you don’t know anything” he proceeded to take the machine down to the stall the held Bessie.
As Dad retold the story he said “I thought for a moment he was going to get it done. He got 3 of those cups on Bessie and she stood there without moving a bit… but something must have gone wrong as he tried to put the last suction cup, Bessie went berserk. She bucked and kicked and she caught that salesman with one of her hoofs and kicked him all the way across the aisle.”
Dad ran over and found he was bleeding but still alive and he called out the house for mom to come and bandage the man.
And as she fixed him up, dad now had to decide what to do next, because Dad now a problem. Can you imagine what Dad’s problem was? That’s right - that milking machine was still on old Bessie, and she was in no mood to have anyone in the stall with her. But he finally got the machine off of her, put it in the car for the salesman and helped the man over to his car.
The salesman left without saying a word.
He never thanked them. He never made an apology – he just drove away.
APPLY: Now, what was that salesman’s problem?
His problem was that he didn’t want to listen to a young farm boy tell him his business. He thought he knew everything there was to know about cows… and he was going to show dad what it was all about.
That salesman was a proud man.
Proverbs 16:18 tells us that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” and that’s exactly what happened to that salesman.
Here in our text this morning, we have Jesus warning the crowds about being proud and He used the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law as His examples of what pride looks like.
The Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law were always looking to be at the head of the line.
· If there was a place of honor at the head of the table, they expected to sit there.
· If there was a title they felt they’d earned, you better give them their proper respect.
· If there was praise to be received, they wanted some of it.
The Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law were proud men. And because they were proud men they expected to be honored by position and power that came from being at the head of the line.
Jesus was never impressed by these men, and He picked on them every chance He got - because they were proud men. As James says “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
In preparation for today’s sermon I did a study on the words “proud” and “pride” in Scripture, and I have to admit I was surprised by what I found. And as I did my study I began to realize WHY God opposes the proud.
In Leviticus 26:18-19 God declares: “If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. I will break down your stubborn pride...”
* Pride seems to make it so that we don’t listen to God.
In fact, in Psalm 10:4 we’re told that “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”