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Scribes: Those Wise in their Own Eyes

Matthew 11:25

Jesus answered and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them to babes.

In the Holy Bible, the 'scribes' refer to groups of individuals who were entrusted with writing, copying, and preserving the sacred scripures. They were also responsible for interpreting the law and teaching it to the people. They held a position of great importance and influence in society. Today’s equivalent might be religious academics: historians, translators, theologans, and philosophers: experts and authorities whose work, lectures, studies and writings impart their own influence over Christian doctrines.

However, the Gospels often portray the scribes in a negative light, as they were frequently at odds with Jesus. They were included among Pharisees and depicted as self-righteous, hypocritical, and more concerned with the letter of the law than with its spirit. Focusing on how the scriptures were written, while overlooking what they actually said. This description of the scribes gives us valuable lessons about the dangers of legalism and the importance of humility, compassion, and sincerity in our spiritual lives.

In Matthew 23, Jesus delivers a scathing critique of the scribes and Pharisees, accusing them of hypocrisy and corruption. He criticises them for focusing on minor details of the law while neglecting its weightier matters: justice, mercy, and faith. They were meticulous in tithing even the smallest herbs, yet they neglected to show kindness and compassion to their fellow man. They were diligent in their religious observances, yet they were devoid of love and humility.

This critique serves as a stark reminder for us to avoid falling into the same trap. As followers of Christ, we are called to live out our faith in a manner that reflects God's love, mercy, and justice. We are called to be humble, sincere, and compassionate, not self-righteous, and hypocritical.

The scribes were often guilty of using their religious knowledge and authority for personal gain. They sought to exalt themselves, to gain the respect and admiration of others, rather than to serve God and their fellow man. This is a cautionary tale for us, as it underscores the dangers of pride and the misuse of religious authority.

It is important for us to remember that knowledge and authority are not ends in themselves, but means to serve others. We must always strive to use our gifts and talents for the glory of God and the benefit of our fellow man, not for our own self-aggrandisement.

In conclusion, the study of the scribes provides us with valuable insights into the pitfalls of legalism, hypocrisy, and pride. It serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the importance of humility, sincerity, and compassion in our spiritual lives. As we strive to live out our faith, let us always remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:11-12: "The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."