Highlights In Today's Reading:
What is a Pharisee? Jesus speaks harshly of these highly-respected interpreters of the Mosaic Law, pointing out the pride and self-exaltation of these hypocrites. They go by a different name today. Don't miss 23:34-35. Jesus laments over Jerusalem. Chapter 24 emphasizes our need to be ready for His return (24:36,42-44).
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 who made the systematic study of the Law and its exposition, their professional occupation. 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 (23:5).
Together, they pledged themselves to live in strict observance of the Mosaic Law and 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 to any who opposed their views. In view of these 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 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 strange that people today reject the Savior for earthly power and prestige.
Five times in succession our Savior portrayed the religious leaders as blind (Matthew 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 . . . iniquity (lawlessness) (Matthew 23:1-2,14,16,28).
Thought for Today:
If Jesus condemned the Pharisees for being hypocrites and blind guides, what would He say about us today?
23:5 phylacteries =b> small boxes containing Scripture texts worn by some Jews to impress others of their religious zeal; 23:15 compass =b> to encircle or surround; 23:29 garnish =b> decorate, adorn.
For Matthew 23:39: See Psalm 118:26. Matthew 24:15: See Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. Matthew 24:29: See Isaiah 13:10; 24:23; 34:4; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10,31; 3:15; Zephaniah 1:15. Matthew 24:30: See Daniel 7:13. Matthew 24:31: See Deuteronomy 30:4; Isaiah 27:13; Zechariah 2:6. Matthew 24:38: See Genesis 6:3-5; 7:7.
Pray for International Shortwave Broadcasts in honor of Bonnie Wilhite • Radio Sri Lanka International Shortwave Broadcasts in memory of Arnold Alfone • Staff: Barbara Jean Loyd • Government Official: Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA) • Country: Ireland (3.7 million) off the coast of western Europe • Major languages: English and Irish (Gaelic) • Religious freedom • 92% Catholic; 3.7% Anglican; 1% Other Protestant; .2% Muslim; .1% Jewish; 2% Other; 1% None • Prayer Suggestion: Pray and the Lord will free you from your fears (Psa. 34:4).
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:33