What would Jesus say about our lives? Do we routinely give Him control and lean on Him for direction? Is He truly our Lord?
11 There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers [see Mark 7:6-13], 12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth; 13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful; 14 those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind [contempt].
It was time for Jesus to stir the religious leaders into action. They either needed to repent and receive His words or kill Him. Most of them chose to kill Him. Read now Jesus’ final condemnation:
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
The scribes and Pharisees didn’t want the system to change, which is exactly what a Messiah would do. In other words, they really didn’t want Messiah to come. Therefore, they rejected Jesus even with all of the evidence of healings right in front of them.
14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
This woe is another example of what the leaders did: They would make a law that gave them what they wanted, and then make another law excusing them for their misdeed. But, the Lord knows and has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” Deuteronomy 32:35.
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Lest we get the idea that they took in foreigners, they were looking for Jews to become their disciples. Then, they would teach them to be “good” Pharisees–whose practices Jesus detested.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
These woes show the inner drive of the religious leaders: Gold and gifts. They were all about the things of this world. Jesus was NOT. In fact, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world” John 18:36.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
The leaders were all about their rules, even tithing on their spices, but they neglected the more important matters of the law, which were justice and mercy and faith. A gnat was an unclean animal, but very small. The camel also was an unclean animal, but very large. It’s a great analogy that is lost on most Gentiles.
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Jesus wanted repentance of the heart. All their deeds meant nothing if their hearts were not right with God.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
The religious leaders were all about how they looked and appeared to the public and to each other. Since they set the standard on what was considered holy and righteous, they knew how to look very holy and righteous. Jesus condemned their actions concerning giving to the needy in Matthew 6:1-4, prayer in 5-15, fasting in 16-18, and treasures in 19-21. They were dead inside; they needed His life, His Spirit; Him!
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
History proved that the religious leaders did the same thing that their forefathers did, which was to kill the Messiah, the Prophet spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:14-19. Jesus would hold them all responsible for all the prophets’ deaths. When? At the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
How about us? Are we continuing on the same path as our forefathers? If they were godly, then let us continue upward. If they were not, then let us forge a new path as we partner with the Spirit, leaning on Him and trusting Him to direct our paths.
Abba, I pray that I would be a devoted follower of You. May I use my fear of what You Could do to motivate me to depend upon Your grace, trusting in what You Won’t do because of Your great love and my devotion to You. Bless me even as I bless You, O Lord. Amen.