Master - Overseer
Dr. Joe Temple


We will read from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 23, verse 1:

Matthew 23

1Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

I would like for us to think together today about verse 10:

Matthew 23

10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

Notice particularly that last statement:

Matthew 23

10…for one is your Master, even Christ.

Quite some time ago, we began a discussion of the names of God, and we found that one of the names of God used frequently in the Old Testament was the name Adonai , and that is indicated in your Old Testament by the English word Lord with only the first letter capitalized. Then we began a discussion of the New Testament counterpart of this word Adonai , reminding you that the word Adonai is most frequently used in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. But when we come over to the New Testament and find the Lord Jesus Christ addressed as Master , we discovered that it is not one word, as it is in the Old Testament, that so describes our Lord Jesus Christ, but there are a number of words. And we said that we wanted to spend some time thinking about those words, which are translated by one English word Master . We thought about the Greek word Kurios , which is translated Master in the New Testament. And we pointed out to you, by examining a number of verses of Scripture, that the word Kurios is a word that describes an individual who exercises absolute power, and no one questions what he does. He is lord, and that word is used to describe the Lord Jesus in the New Testament, and it is translated Master .

In our last lesson, we looked at another word, and that word was the Greek word Despotes , and we pointed out to you that it is one who has absolute ownership, as well as uncontrolled power. We said that the Lord Jesus Christ, when this word is used, is presented to us as the benevolent Despot , the one who does have absolute ownership of us and exercises uncontrolled power, but the one who does it for our benefit.

This passage of Scripture to which we have called your attention presents to us another word which is translated by our English word Master . As a matter of fact, in verses 8-10, we have three different Greek words that are translated by our English word Master .

In verse 8, there is the word Rabbi . Actually that word Rabbi is a transliteration of the Greek word. You understand that sometimes in our Bible Greek words are translated—that is, the meaning is given—and other times the word is transliterated—the Greek word is spelled with the English equivalent letters, because it seems difficult to give as accurate a meaning as could be. The word Rabbi here is translated in other places Master . So that's one Greek word.

If you look again at verse 8, where it says, “for one is your Master,” that is the translation of a Greek word at which we have not as yet looked, but we will look before we are through with this series, and it is the translation of the Greek word Didaskalos , and we will be thinking about that more later.

His Guidance In Our Lives

Now in verse 10:

Matthew 23

10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

This word Master is the translation of the Greek word at which we wish to look today. The Greek word which is translated by this word Master is the Greek word Kathegetes . Kathegetes actually comes from two Greek words. One of them is Kata , which always means “down,” no matter where you find it, and the Greek word Hegeomai . Kata Hegeomai would be the complete word. The Greek word Hegeomai , of course, means “to guide.” So the literal translation of the word is “guide down,” so this word translated Master describes one who is able to guide down the pathway of life.

Whenever we call the Lord Jesus Christ Master , it is important for us to remember exactly what we mean when we say Master . For example, in view of the things that we have already discussed in relation to these three words, if we call the Lord Jesus Christ Master , we must be ready to recognize that He has absolute control of our lives. We never question anything He does. As a servant looks to the eye of his master, so we look to the Lord. If we recognize Him as Master, we're never going to question anything that He does. We say that He has control, and that's it.

Then again, in view of the word at which we looked last week, we must recognize that He not only has control, but He has absolute ownership of us. “We are not our own, we are bought with a price.” The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, in chapter 9 says, “Has the clay the right to say to the potter, ‘Why hast thou made me thus'?” If we have recognized Him as Master and He owns our lives completely, then He has the right to do with us exactly what He wants to do.

These things seem rather cold and austere and hard, and it may be that we are afraid, and some people are afraid to own Him as Lord . Many people are afraid to own Him as Master because of what He might do. Somehow or other, they have the idea that if they do surrender unto the Lord, He will dream up something really bad that He wants them to do just to treat them mean. We don't need to be afraid of that in the light of the word Kathegetes that we are looking at today, because this word describes the one who guides us down the road.

The Compelling Power of Christ

As we look at several passages of Scripture in which this word is found, we're going to find a variation of thought in relation to it. The first thing that I would like to suggest to you is that this guidance is always under compulsion. It isn't that the Lord walks ahead of us and says, “Come along, now; won't you please come along?” Rather, He compels us to go. This is an illustration of the compelling power of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Master of our lives.

That becomes evident when we notice the way in which this word is used. Turn with me, please, to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 13, verse 1:

Mark 13

1And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

Then down in verse 13: After the Master's attention had been called to the temple, and He turned that invitation to look at the temple into a prophecy concerning the end times, in verse 11, He said:

Mark 13

11But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Look at verse 11 at the word lead . It is a translation of the same word which suggests to us that here it is a matter of compulsion. Verse 11, of course, is speaking about men who are opposed to the servants of Christ literally leading them under compulsion into a court of law, where they will have to give testimony concerning their faith in Chirst. They really have no choice about it, but they are led under compulsion to this particular place. Well, this is the verb form of the same word that is translated Master in the first verse, and the same word that we are thinking about in this lesson.

When we recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as the Master of our lives, we must recognize that He will lead us all right, He will guide us all right, but He shall do so in a gentle, compelling way.

Filled With the Holy Spirit

Turn to chapter 4 of the Gospel of Luke, where you will find that the Lord Jesus Christ, while He was upon the earth, experienced the same mastery of His life. In this instance, it was the Holy Spirit. Luke, chapter 4, verse 1-2a:

Luke 4

1And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2Being forty days tempted of the devil…

That is as far as we will read there. You'll notice the word led . It is this word that we are looking at. You could just as well say, “The Lord Jesus Christ was mastered by the Holy Spirit, compellingly led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil.” And you will notice a very significant thing, it seems to me, keeping in mind now that we are thinking about the humanity of our Savior at the moment: “Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost.” That word full is the same word that is translated “filled” in Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 18:

Ephesians 5

18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

A better word, it seems to me, is the word controlled , because all too often, when we hear the word full we get the idea of an empty vessel that is filled up with a foreign object. Actually it isn't that; it is a matter of being controlled by the Holy Spirit. I want you to see this, because I want you to learn something, and refresh the minds of those of you who already know it, that only as this is true in your life can the Lord Jesus Christ be your Master in the sense that we are thinking about today. Jesus, being controlled by the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan and was led under compulsion by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. The same word. So when we speak of the Lord Jesus Christ as Master, recognizing the translation of this Greek word Kathegetes that we are thinking about, we recognize the fact that He has the right and the ability to gently compel us to walk down the path that He has outlined for us.

Led Toward Repentance

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 2, as we remind you that the Lord Jesus Christ uses things for this compelling power of His. In this portion of Scripture, the subjects that are compelled are the unsaved, and you will notice in verse 1 of Romans, chapter 2:

Romans 2

1Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
2But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
3And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
4Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

You notice that word leadeth . It's the translation of this same word that we are talking about. How is it that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Master of our lives, gently compels us to go the way He wants us to go? Well in this particular instance, He speaks of “the riches of His goodness.” Sometimes God is just good to us in order that we might be ready to go the way that He wants us to go. Sometimes God manifests His forbearance—that is, He withholds punishment, with the idea of compelling us to do what He wants us to do.

How many times have you said, concerning some individual who was living in open rebellion against God, “Why does God let them get away with that?” Maybe you have said that about one of your own loved ones. You've been greatly burdened and concerned and you've seen the way they were going in rebellion against God, and you have said, “Oh my, I do hope they will come to their senses before God has to do something drastic.” Maybe you have even said, “I don't know why God hasn't already done it.” You wonder why. Well, that is the forbearance of God. God is just holding back. Why is He holding back? In order that He might gently compel them to go the way that He wants them to go.

The word longsuffering here is also involved. Oh, the longsuffering of God! My, what God puts up with! What God tolerates! Why does He do it? That the goodness of God might master us toward repentance. That's the thought. That the goodness of God might lead us toward repentance.

We have been exploring these verses of Scripture, and I trust that you have been able to follow us with the idea of suggesting to you what it means when we suggest to you that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Master. We mean that He leads us under compulsion down the road that He wants us to go.

Guided Into All Truth

We would like to leave with you another thought today, and that is that it's not only the matter of leadership under compulsion, it is a matter of guidance and direction. Turn with me, please, to the Gospel of John, chapter 16, and notice the statement that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself makes about the Holy Spirit, Who is another member of the Godhead. John, chapter 16, verse 12:

John 16

12I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

What does He mean by that? “There is a lot I would like to tell you, but you can't comprehend it.” “What are you going to do, leave us in the dark? Are you going to just say, ‘I can't tell them anything, so let's just forget them'.”? Oh no! In verse 13, He said:

John 16

13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Notice there in verse 13, the statement, “He will quide you into all truth.” That word guide is the translation of the word that we have been thinking about in this lesson, Kathegetes . “He will guide you into all truth.” It not only is a matter of His leading you. Even as He leads you, He will guide you. You know it is one thing to lead and another thing to lead and to guide.

For example, you might come to me and say, “Where does Mr. Jones live?” I'll say to you, “Well, I'll get in my car and lead you there.” And so I just drive ahead of you. I'm leading you, but I might know the dip in the street that you don't know about, and if I don't take the trouble to guide you over that dip, you could break the axle of your car. Or maybe I'm leading you down a certain path through a park, and I'm walking ahead of you; I'm leading you, but I know that there is a hole in that path. If I don't turn around and say “Watch out for that hole,” you'd step in it and twist your ankle. You see, I'm leading you, but I'm not guiding you. Now our Lord, when we recognize Him as the Master of our lives, does not only lead us gently under compulsion, but He guides us into all truth, so that there is no danger at all of making any mistakes as long as we recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as the Master of our lives and depend on Him to lead us and even compel us when we are a little bit reluctant to go the way that He wants us to go. Then we can depend on Him, as He leads us, to guide us around all of the pitfalls that there may be in the path in which He is guiding us.

Guidance By Fellowship

One last thought I would like to leave with you is related to the matter of guidance, when we recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as Master in the way which I am suggesting to you today, and that is that His guidance is never without His companionship. His guidance is never without His companionship.

Turn, please, to the Gospel of John, chapter 11. Chapter 11 of John is telling the story of the death of Lazarus and the concern of the sisters of Lazarus, because of the apparent (and you will notice that I am saying apparent ) disinterest on the part of the Lord Jesus Christ). In chapter 11 of the Gospel of John, verses 1-7:

John 11

1Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
4When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
7Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

Then will you skip down and read verses 14-15:

John 11

14Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Notice in verse 7, the phrase, “Let us go,” and down in verse 15, the phrase, “Let us go.” That phrase is the translation of this very word that we are talking about. So you see, it's not a matter of the Lord Jesus Christ guiding us by remote control; it is a matter of the Lord Jesus Christ guiding us by daily companionship and fellowship.

You have seen, I'm sure, pictures and heard stories of men in the air who for various reasons have lost control of their plane and had to be guided in by being talked in. Here was a man in the control tower talking to the man in the plane, and he would guide him in with his voice. Well, that works sometimes, but how lonely that pilot is in that plane without any real assurance that he is going to get in, just being talked in. Well, the Lord Jesus Christ doesn't do that with us. He doesn't guide us by remote control. He is by our side and He is saying, “Let us go.” He guides us, He leads us, He compels us, but it is always with the assurance of His presence.


So when we call Him Master , let's remember that. The Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples in the text that we read today, “Don't let anybody call you Master, and don't you call anybody Master, for you have only one Master, and that is Christ. There is only one who can do these things for you.”

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