Woe to you!

December 8, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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In Matthew 23, Jesus is talking to a crowd that gathered around Him. He had just finished dealing with the questions of the Sadducees and the Pharisees. They had been asking questions about different theological issues. At the end of chapter 22, Jesus turns the tables on them and asks them a question. After His question, no one could answer Him. Then, in chapter 23, He goes on to warn the people about the Pharisees.


Mat 23:1  Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,

Mat 23:2  saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;

Mat 23:3  therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.

Mat 23:4  “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

Mat 23:5  “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.

Mat 23:6  “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,

Mat 23:7  and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

Mat 23:8  “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.

Mat 23:9  “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

Mat 23:10  “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.

Mat 23:11  “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.

Mat 23:12  “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Mat 23:13  “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

Mat 23:14  [“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]

Mat 23:15  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Mat 23:16  “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’

Mat 23:17  “You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?

Mat 23:18  “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’

Mat 23:19  “You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?

Mat 23:20  “Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it.

Mat 23:21  “And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.

Mat 23:22  “And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

Mat 23:23  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Mat 23:24  “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

Mat 23:25  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.

Mat 23:26  “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

Mat 23:27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

Mat 23:28  “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Mat 23:29  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

Mat 23:30  and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

Mat 23:31  “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

Mat 23:32  “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

Mat 23:33  “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

Mat 23:34  “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and 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,

Mat 23:35  so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Mat 23:36  “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Mat 23:37  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

Mat 23:38  “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

Mat 23:39  “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'”


Jesus condemns the Pharisees for doing all of the visual things that commend them to others but have absolutely no meaning to God without the inner change that comes from being saved by grace through faith. He warns the crowd that they shouldn’t be like them if they want to know eternal life. The Pharisees were the religious leaders and should have been leading God’s people closer to Him. They had a deep knowledge of what the scripture says and should have been waiting for Christ to come. They should have been the ones to recognize Him in the temple at 12 years old. They should have been out in the streets trying to get the people in Roman-occupied Israel to flock to Jesus and receive the gift of salvation. Instead of this, they created even tougher laws the people had to follow to be right with God. They took advantage of the laws better their lives and position.


In this chapter, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for keeping others from heaven. He rebukes them for their pretensions and treatment of widows. He also condemns them for making converts even worse off then they were themselves. They were rebuked for not having their hearts focused on the right thing (they were more worried about gold than God). He rebuked them for following the finer points of the law (the tithe) while ignoring justice, mercy, and faithfulness. He rebuked them for making their appearance holy and righteous while the inside is horrible. He exposed their self-righteousness and His condemnation of it.


Today, we see these same things in churches across the globe. “Pastors” are preaching a different gospel and keeping people from entering heaven. Christians are ignoring widows and take from those who can’t afford it (getting them to “sow seeds”), all in the name of Christianity. Those who get “converted” are made to jump through hoops and become worse than those leading them. The focus is on the money and material things instead of God. Christians nitpick and focus on minor things (color of the carpet, who can sing what, etc.) while ignoring larger things. They give money and material things to people in the congregation and do “good” things in the community, but they ignore the things that people really need. They don’t preach sin, hell, judgment, and wrongdoing. Going to church today has become all about appearance. It’s about whether you look like what a Christian should look like, not by the scriptural definition, but by what the current Christian trends say. If the trends say that torn jeans, Starbucks, and facial hair are what makes a Christian, then droves of people will end up doing it just to look like a Christian. It doesn’t matter what kind of lifestyle you live, as long as you look like a Christian. The church has determined what righteousness is and has proclaimed itself to be so instead of measuring itself by God’s standard.


We need to stop using worldly trends and current efforts by churches to look like the world in order to attract people to determine who is a Christian. Instead, we need to return to scripture and use God’s Word to determine who is and isn’t a Christian. It’s not about what non-believers think. It’s not about what the church thinks. It’s about what God says. We need to repent of sin. We need to teach others the truth of sin and how God sees it and the people that commit it. We need to start doing things we know that we should be. We need to honestly and energetically portray Christ the way that He portrayed Himself in the Bible. We need to be witnesses to the true Christ and to be telling others at every opportunity that without Christ, they will find themselves in hell. We can’t beat the world at being the world and it’s not the job of the church to try. Instead, we need to be the church. We need to be holy and set apart like the Bible calls us to be. It’s the only thing that will lead people to the Saviorhttp://www.cafepress.com/ateasetees/4506794 of the world…

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