Daily Archives: March 30, 2010

Woe to the Hypocrites

March 30 – Tuesday of Passion Week

Matthew 23:1-39 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, [2] “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, [3] so practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. [4] They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. [5] They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, [6] and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues [7] and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. [8] But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. [9] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. [10] Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. [11] The greatest among you shall be your servant. [12] Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. [13] “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. [15] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.[16] “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ [17] You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? [18] And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ [19] You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? [20] So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. [21] And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. [22] And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. [23] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. [24] You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! [25] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. [26] You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. [27] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. [28] So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. [29] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, [30] saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ [31] Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. [32] Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. [33] You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? [34] Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, [35] so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. [36] Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. [37] “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! [38] See, your house is left to you desolate. [39] For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ “

On Tuesday, Jesus gave the Pharisees the most scathing rebukes that He has done in all His ministry up to this time. He pulls no punches. Seven times He says “Woe to you”, and one can imagine that he was not merely whispering those words. Six times He calls them hypocrites and five times calls them blind. He calls them fools and implies that they are illogical. He accuses them of murder and of sending their disciples to hell. This to a group of religious leaders who had already made it known that if anyone saw Jesus in Jerusalem during Passover they should report it to them so that they could arrest Him (John 11:57). The air is electric with talk about what Jesus is going to do and what the Pharisees will do.

The sin that Jesus had the least patience for was hypocrisy, especially in religious leaders. Check out the times that we see Jesus getting angry in the Gospels. He gets angry at those who sell in the temple, abusing those seeking to worship, especially Gentiles. He gets angry at His disciples for not allowing the children to approach Him. He gets angry at the Pharisees here for the way they treat those who follow them. They hurt those who they are called to benefit. They make demands on their followers which they are unwilling to keep themselves. They teach for truth that which is a lie. This is their hypocrisy.

See this here in verse 13:

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in”.

Then see it in verse 15:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves”

And again in verse 23:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

And then again in verse 31:

“Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets”

This is simply stunning. Jesus is three days away from the most agonizing death anyone will ever suffer and His anger is directed at those who mislead others. We see this in His utterances from the cross as well. He tells John to take care of His mother. He prays for God to forgive those who are nailing Him to a piece of wood. And the greatest act of compassion ever done in history and for eternity: He willingly offers himself as the sacrifice for a vast numberless multitude of hell deserving sinners.

What a word this is for those who have the responsibility to teach and influence others for the sake of the Gospel. Your ministry is not about you. You have been given a sacred charge by the Lord to teach and correct and instruct and rebuke so that those who are on the receiving end of those things will find themselves in glory when they die. You will be judged with a harsher judgement for it. Look to Jesus as the example of giving up for the sake of others. As a blood bought sinner yourself, spend yourself for the glory of God and the good of others. First, their spiritual good and then their temporal good. Look out for the good of those you teach, even to your own hurt. Hear the words of the Apostle Paul

Col. 1:24 – Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

We are called to follow Christ. Do you follow Him in this? Is your anger for the sake of others? Can you identify with Paul in Galatians when he says:

Galatians 5:12 – I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

Or:

2 Tim. 4:2-5

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. [5] As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Does the fact that countless millions have believed a lie from Satan that condemns them to an eternity away from God grip your heart? Does the fact that you are called to teach the truth to people who need to know what it says strike fear in your heart so that you will work very hard at making sure that nothing you say will lead anyone astray? And would you do so in the face of your own death? What a calling is upon all those entrusted with eternal truth to pass on to others. It is a high privilege. Use it well.

And finally, revel in the Gospel. Jesus was angry at the Pharisees for their abuse of their followers. Jesus dies for the eternal benefit of His. What a Saviour.