Seven woes. Seven rebukes. Seven not so friendly responses to the religious leaders of Jesus day. It is easy to read through Matthew 23 and think, "Yeah, Jesus you tell them! You no good religious teachers!" But then I start to think about who are the religious teachers today. Umm, me? I wonder how many of these warnings could be applied to me or others today? Is there a parallel?
Overall theme of the chapter:
5"Everything they do is done for men to see:
Application: All leaders must check motives for the things they do.
13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
Questions: Do I ever decide who should receive God's grace? Do I ever pass over someone because they don't appear to offer as much to the kingdom as someone else?
15"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
Question: Jesus said that when a student is fully trained he will be like his teacher. Based on my faith and purity should anyone become like me?
16"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?
Question: Do I place the correct emphasis on spiritual things over material things? Do I get confused in thinking my preaching or singing or teaching is what makes a difference to people or is it the power of God and His word?
23"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Question: Could I be feeling good about turbo tax red flagging what I gave to the church last year, but forget to love people and show mercy when I should?
25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Question: Does my inside present well in God's eyes or am I just putting on a show for everyone else?
27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Question: It is not a question of whether I am a hypocrite or not; the question is in what areas am I a hypocrite?
29"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'
Question: Do I make myself out to be more than what I am?
My prayer is that God would help me to be humble and walk with Him everyday. May I be closer each day, more devoted each morning, more grateful each night.