Read Matthew 23
Jesus announces the horrible fate of hypocritical religious leaders (Matt. 23:1-36)! Jesus deeply grieves over Jerusalem like He does for those who reject Him today (23:37-39). Only God knows the day (24:36)!
Of the three prominent religious societies of Judaism at the time of Christ — Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes — the Pharisees were the most highly respected.
Jewish scribes were a class of learned men whose professional occupation was to systematically study the Law and explain its meaning. The scribes were copiers of the Law and other documents. They held undisputed sway as the recognized interpreters of the Law and were the revered representatives of Judaism. For the most part they were members of the Pharisee party. Jesus said: All their works they do for to be seen of men (Matt. 23:5).
Together, they pledged themselves to live in strict observance of the Mosaic Law and to obey all facets of the tradition of the elders (earlier interpretations of the Law) (15:2-3) to the minutest detail; they were sticklers for ceremonial purity. They also were haughty and arrogant toward any who opposed their views. Considering their legalistic attitudes, it was inevitable that they would bitterly oppose Jesus for His refusal to be bound by their man-made traditions (John 9:16,22) and for His claims of Messiahship.
Throughout Jesus' ministry the Pharisees were His most determined opponents. He, in turn, condemned them for their hypocrisy, their legalism, the hardness of their hearts, their pride against others, and their covetousness. God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15). It is eternally sad that people in all generations reject the Savior for earthly power and prestige.
Five times in succession our Savior portrayed the religious leaders as blind (Matt. 23:16-17,19-24,26) to their hypocrisy. He further described them as being full of extortion and excess (23:25) and as being like whited sepulchres (whitewashed tombs) (23:27) — outwardly righteous, but inwardly vile. Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples, Saying. . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. . . . Woe unto you, ye blind guides. . . . ye also outwardly appear righteous . . . but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (lawlessness) (Matt. 23:1-2,14,16,28).
Thought for Today:
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with Truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14).
For Matt. 23:39: See Ps. 118:26. Matt. 24:15: See Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. Matt. 24:29: See Is. 13:10; 24:23; 34:4; Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:10,31; 3:15; Zeph. 1:15. Matt. 24:30: See Dan. 7:13. Matt. 24:31: See Deut. 30:4; Is. 27:13; Zech. 2:6. Matt. 24:38: See Gen. 6:3-5; 7:7.
23:5 phylacteries scripture texts in small boxes worn by some Jews to impress others of their religious zeal; 23:15 compass to "go about," or "go around," sea and land; 23:29 garnish decorate, adorn.
Pray for International Broadcasts sponsored by Elaine Servetto • Staff: Jennifer Cunningham • Government Officials: Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA), and Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA) • Country: Bhutan (2 million) in the eastern Himalayas of central Asia • Major languages: Tibetan and Nepalese dialects • Public worship, evangelism, and proselytization are illegal • 50-70% Buddhist; 24-45% Hindu; 5% Muslim; 1% Protestant/Roman Catholic • Prayer Suggestion: Remember that one of the purposes of prayer is to glorify God (Ps. 115:1).
Memory Verse for the Week: