Posts from 2019 (Page 3)

Hypocrisy: Wake up! Open your eyes!

Luke 12:54-57 People can be extremely observant and incredibly blind at the same moment! The manner in which humans can be extremely sensitive to their environment and incredible clueless about eternal realities at the same moment can be frustrating in the extreme. All of us can have acute awareness of matters of [at most] limited significance while being completely oblivious to matters of eternal significance. This quirk in human sensitivity profoundly frustrated Jesus. He said, “You people can predict weather…

Hypocrisy: The horror of the Pharisees’ mistakes

Matthew 23:29-36 Rather than a verse by verse analysis, this lesson seeks to focus attention on a problem of the scribes and Pharisees that deeply offended God. The problem was deeply rooted in Israel’s history and in the scribes and Pharisees’ self-concept. Israel had hundreds of years of history in rebelling against God. Though the scribes and Pharisees devoutly believed they were God’s people, they were in fact continuing Israel’s history of rebellion. Israel’s history of rebellion began be-fore they…

Hypocrisy: Whitewashed Tombs

Matthew 23:27, 28 Attitudes towards and practices involving a dead body differ radically from culture to culture. When the writer was a teenager, he remembers a funeral in the community that involved a child’s death. The unfading part of his memory was the family’s reaction at the funeral. So much physical contact with the body occurred that those in charge of funeral services had to restrain the family from removing the body from the casket. The writer once lived in…

Cups and Dishes

Matthew 23:25, 26 Practical expressions of religious purity frequently are strange. Perhaps the strangest expressions of purity are found in what devout persons focus on as “essential for purity.” Examples are plentiful. In some religions, people reason themselves to this conclusion: “The essential way to express my devotion to religious purity is to destroy people who disagree with me.” Jesus rejected that thinking in Matthew 48 by declaring such thinking cannot reflect God. Or some reason: “I can give more…

Hypocrite: Details or Substance?

Matthew 23:23, 24 Determining the important is essential to everyone! Always there are priorities! Priorities are based on properly grasping what is more important among the numerous importants. Consider. Parents ‘lay the law down’ to a 14 year old: “Under no circumstance are you allowed to drive the car!” The 14 year old arrived home after school. The house was empty but on fire. Should he drive the family car parked in the garage to the street? If he does,…

Hypocrite: Artificial Distinctions

Matthew 23:16-22 Years ago a Christian lady often remarked to fellow Christians, “I would never say that in a church building!” The “that” was rarely something evil. To her, it was just an inappropriate statement [or action] for “inside a church building.” She had a strict spiritual protocol for what was appropriate and inappropriate in church buildings. Some things always were inappropriate to be said or done “inside a church building.” While those things were never “evil” things, they were…

Hypocrisy: Converts

Matthew 23:15 NKJV 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. Matthew 23:14 does not occur in the oldest manuscripts of Matthew. The problem of exploiting the helpless and afterward performing a religious act instead of repenting is cited as a characteristic of misguided Israelites [including leaders] in some Old Testament periods. The problem…

Hypocrites: An Obstacle to Others

Matthew 23:13 We need to begin by defining some terms used in today’s text. Consider the word, “Pharisees.” Do not stereotype every Pharisee as being “a person who misrepresented God.” Even Jewish society recognized there were distinctions to be made among the Pharisees. Not all Pharisees held identical views. What was generally true of the Pharisees as a group might not be true of an individual Pharisee. Remember Nicodemus, the person who had a private talk with Jesus in John…

Hypocrites: The Principle of Service

Matthew 23:1-12 A key element in understanding God’s will for His people is found in the role of service. The man or woman who belongs to God is a servant. Jesus repeatedly stressed this in numerous situations. Consider some examples. In Matthew 20:20-28 James and John’s mother asked Jesus to enthrone her sons on his right and left hand in his kingdom. Jesus responded to her by saying, “You do not understand what you are asking,” and to James and…

“Woe to You, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites!”

Matthew 23 It is important to note that Jesus spoke Matthew 23 during the last week of his life. The Teacher spent much of his ministry appealing to the Pharisees in terms meaningful to their perspective. As Jesus’ death approached, nothing changed in the Pharisees’ perspective. Usually it was the Pharisees who tried to confront Jesus either by direct or indirect remarks. For example, they criticized Jesus to his disciples for eating with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:11). They…