But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Matthew 23:8 (KJV)
Rabbi – I just listened to short video where a pastor of a church makes the claim that Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, the author of the bestseller The Harbinger, is a false teacher because he uses the title ‘Rabbi’. The pastor used this verse from Matthew 23 as the crux of his argument. Now while I can understand the arguments of some that Rabbi Cahn might be false, is this really Yeshua’s point in the verse above?
Was Yeshua concerned about a title, or was He concerned about the examples that those with this title portrayed? It’s pretty evident from verse three that He was rebuking those with this title as bad examples in society. It’s about the actions these men were conducting, not about their title.
Yeshua goes on to say not to call any man “Father” as well (Matthew 23:9). Again, is He concerned about the title, or is He concerned about the power by which someone with that title might lord over others? I am a father to my children, but are they not allowed to call me father, dad, papa, whatever? Of course not, that’s absurdity. It’s not about the title in either of these two cases, it’s about the power and control these positions have. Don’t seek to be recognized as someone in these positions. Don’t seek for the recognition and honor these titles attribute. Commit yourself to humility and service to the body of Yeshua, not titles.
To go further with this point, it is evident that Yeshua’s disciples called him Rabbi throughout the text, but there’s an interesting verse regarding John the Baptist as well.
And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
During this time, men were called “Rabbi” as a sign of honor. Even John was called Rabbi. The title itself isn’t bad, but the example by which most of these Rabbis were living was unrighteous and without humility. We understand John to be a righteous person who prepared the way for Yeshua by bringing so many to repentance. He was a Rabbi, a leader to his disciples. So too was Yeshua, a Rabbi and leader to His disciples.
This is mimicked in the workforce today. So many are concerned with their titles rather than the contributions they provide to the company. Does my title include manager, or director? It’s about your actions, and it’s about your faith. The titles come not because you sought out that role to obtain the recognition and privileges it provided, but because you acted in a way that deserved the title. Yeshua, our Rabbi, is most deserving because of His actions on earth. What He did goes above and beyond anything we could ever do ourselves.