Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 23

Rarely do we see Jesus on the attack, but in Chapter 23 of Matthew he basically lays into the Pharisees with both barrels. The Seven Woes that are mentioned in this chapter is essentially an attack on the hypocrisy that the Pharisees practiced in governing the people. Jesus calls this out for their crimes, trying to get them to open their eyes to what they were denying not only themselves, but the people of Israel they were responsible for. Basically, he calls them out for practicing what they were supposed to practice, but doing so without any real purpose or meaning.

16"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' 19You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it. – Matthew 23:16-22

This example shows the difference in perspective that Jesus held apart from the Pharisees. Jesus knew that the power of the Temple and the sacrifices made on the alter lied in the hands of God. God is hat made these things sacred according to the laws of Moses. Allegedly, it was this law that the Pharisees were trying to follow. Their greed and human nature distracted them from this noble path, however. They were placing the value in things man can place value in. Gold only has value to man. The sacred nature of the temple made of the gold had value based on God. When the Pharisees placed value on the materials they were putting themselves ahead of God.

25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. – Matthew 23:25-26

This woe refers to those that refuse to look at their own faults while pointing out the faults of others. This is something the Pharisees were more than guilty of. They thought their position made them above reproach, when in reality ALL men have sinned and fallen short of the glory. By cleaning the outside they were merely putting a shine on something that was infected from the inside. They could not see past their own sin to properly cleanse the sins of others. Their own righteousness was the outside. It appear clean to men but in reality it was filthy.


  1. Why did Jesus choose this time to mention these woes?
  2. How did this help His ministry?
  3. What role did this play in the Pharisees turning on Him?

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