Jesus Warns the Religious Leaders: 23:1-15.
(Read Matt 23:1-15)
Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of religious leaders in this chapter. He wanted that disciples should benefit from this warning. The Scribes and Pharisees were scholars of the Law. Because of their learning, they held position of authority and influence in the society. They burdened people with religious duties but they never practiced them. They loved to be honored by others. They sought prominent seats in the synagogues and feasts. They enjoyed being called Rabbi. Jesus said “They neither enter the kingdom of God nor allow others to enter in”. They are religious hypocrites. Jesus said “Don’t ever let anyone address you “Rabbi”. You are all on the same level as brothers and sisters. Don’t address anyone here on earth as “Father” because only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. There is only one Master, the Christ. “The greatest among you shall be your servant”. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Godly leadership will seek to serve others. There is nothing deadlier in the church than a prideful leader. Self-serving attitude will ruin the church.Christian faith produces godly living.
The Danger of Hardheartedness: 23:16-39.
(Read Matt 23:16-39)
Jesus condemns the religious leaders for their hypocrisy. Though they knew the law they neglected justice, mercy and faith. They hardened their hearts toward God. They were greedy and self-indulgent. Jesus said "they are like whitewashed tombs". Beautiful on the outside but filled with impurity inside. Outwardly they look upright but inwardly their hearts are filled with hypocrisy. Is it not the condition of the church today? They say “We never would have killed the prophets”. In saying that, they accused themselves of being the descendants of those who murdered the prophets (2 Chronicles 24:20-21). Jesus said “They will never escape the coming judgment”. Jesus teaches that our devotion toward God must flow from a sincere heart. Christians should never desire the praise of others. They should find their ultimate security in God rather than in earthly riches. Someone has said “Significance in life comes only by service”. Religious leaders turned the house of God into a den of thieves. They failed to seek the weightier matters of the law. Jesus denounced these religious leaders. Jesus sorrowed over Jerusalem. He loved Israel and wanted to protect them like a hen gathering her chicks under her wings. But they rejected Him. Their Temple will be left empty and desolate. They would not see Christ until they say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Zech 9:9; 12:10). This is a reference to Christ’s second coming. After his resurrection Jesus appeared only to his disciples. Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?