March 12th, 2013: The Twenty-Fourth Day of Lent
March 12, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ gives his audience much teaching on how to live according to the realities of the Kingdom of Heaven. He does this by presenting teaching that challenges the status quo in many ways; this way, the teaching shows the audience (and us) how Christ’s coming Kingdom is different from the kingdoms that strive for power now.
In this final section of the Sermon on the Mount, Christ begins to encourage his audience to be on their guard against false teachers; he also speaks of the coming judgment when his Kingdom comes in fullness. We’ll hear some strong words and see some stark imagery in the next few verses.
In this verse, we see the image of a wolf disguised as a sheep in order to sneak into a position of religious importance. In Christ’s time, and in the years following, many prophets came around in order to gain a following. One of the major problems the early church faced was the need to distinguish which prophets had the best interests of the faith community at heart, as well as the ability to properly teach Christ’s message. Many people tried to jump on the bandwagon for their own reasons, and wound up abusing their position of leadership or distorting Christ’s teachings. It should come as no surprise that this issue remains just as relevant today as it did then. There are people who are in the ministry for reasons that do not line up with Christ’s teaching and his heavenly realities. Some of these people have a big following with very successful ministries.
Christ will tell his audience in coming verses how to be able to spot these fakes and impostors. For now, we need to face the fact that there are false teachers and prophets out there. Unfortunately, not all people who claim a stake in ministry have the truths of the Kingdom in mind. Here, Christ tells his audience to “beware” – this means that it’s up to Christ’s followers to be on the lookout for these false prophets and teachers. We must be vigilant. We can start by asking for God’s help.
Lord Christ, it’s hard to believe that there are people within the church who do not have the best interests of your Kingdom at heart, but Christ says that this is so. Help your church to be watchful and on its guard against such people. Help us to guard our hearts against teachings that sound like truth, but actually contain lies. Amen.