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Matthew 23

Our Pharisaism (Matthew 23)


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Matthew 23

Jesus warns the people about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying: 2 The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses seat. 3 Therefore all things whatever they tell you, do and observe; but do not you copy their works, for they say and do not. 4 Yes, they bind heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders; but they will not move them with their finger. 5 But they do all their works to be seen by men. For they make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long, 6 and they love the chief place at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called of men, Rabbi.
   8 But you are not to be called Rabbi- for one is your teacher, and all you are brothers. 9 And call no one on the earth your father- for one is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called masters - for one is your master, the Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and whoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.
   13 But woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 14 Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, while for a pretence you make long prayers. Therefore you shall receive greater condemnation.
   15 Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he has become so, you make him twofold more a son of Gehenna than yourselves.
   16 Woe to you, you blind guides, who say: Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever 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, Whoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing! But whoever shall swear by the gift that is upon it, 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 He therefore that swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 And he that swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him that dwells in it. 22 And he that swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him that sits on it.
   23 Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you tithe mint and anise and cumin, yet have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy and faith.  These you ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone.  24 You blind guides, that strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! 25 Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 You blind Pharisee! Cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside of it may become clean also.
   27 Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful but inwardly are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
   29 Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the tombs of the righteous, 30 and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets. 31 Therefore you witness to yourselves, you are the sons of them that slew the prophets. 32 Fill up then the measure of your fathers’ iniquity.
   33 You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how shall you escape the judgment of Gehenna? 34 Therefore, look, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes. Some of them you shall kill and crucify, and some of them you shall scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city. 35 That upon you may fall the guilt for all the righteous blood shed on the land, from the blood of Abel the righteous to the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you slew between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.
Jesus laments over Jerusalem
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings- but you were not willing! 38 Behold, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I say to you, you shall not see me from this time forward, until you shall say: Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.



23:9 The practice of calling a priest ‘Father’ is therefore totally wrong.

23:13 We can both enable and hinder others from entering God’s Kingdom. Causing others not to enter the Kingdom by our words, actions or example is one of the most serious sins. The Pharisees were a very small group, but the Gospel records give much time to describing Christ’s interaction with them- for legalism and discouraging others from entering the Kingdom is such a serious sin, which we can so easily commit.

23:22 God is a personal being, located in Heaven- not a whisp of ‘spirit’ nor an abstraction. 23:33 An allusion to the promise in Eden of Gen. 3:15. All who oppose Jesus are the descendants of the serpent, and those in Christ, as the descendants of the woman, will overcome them in the end after suffering from them in the short term.

23:37 Did Jesus think up this idea from watching the hens in his mothers’ yard in Nazareth?

23:39 This may mean that when Jesus returns, those who rejected Him will be resurrected and then will recognize Him. But it will be too late. At the day of judgment, nobody will be indifferent. People may shrug their shoulders now or even reject Jesus, but in that day they will desperately want one thing- to be with Him. But for those who rejected Him in this life it will be too late. Hence the rejected will bang their teeth in self-hatred.