Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
Mathew 1:17
Mathew 1: 18-25 Mathew 2: 1-23 Mathew 3: 1-17 Mathew 4: 1-11 Mathew 4: 12-25
Matthew 5:1-12 Part 1 Matthew 5:1-12 Part 2 Mathew 5:13-16 Mathew 5:17-26 Mathew 5:27-37 Mathew 5:38-48
Mathew 6:1-8, 16-18 Mathew 6: 7-15 Mathew 6:19-34 Mathew 6:25-34 Mathew 7:1-12 Mathew 7:15-23
Mathew 7: 24-29 Mathew 8: 1-17 Mathew 8: 18-34 Mathew 9: 1-13 Mathew 9:14-26 Mathew 9:27 - 10:31
Mathew 10:32-42 Mathew 11:1-31 Mathew 12:1-21 Mathew 12:22-50 Mathew 13:1-23 Mathew 13: 24-43
Mathew 13: 44-52 Mathew 13:54 -14:12 Mathew 14:13-21 Mathew 14:22-36 Mathew 15:1-20 Mathew 15:21-31
Mathew 15: 32-39 Mathew 16:13-23 Matthew 16:24-28 Matthew 17:1-13 Matthew 17:14-27 Matthew 18:1-14
Matthew 18:15-20 Matthew 18:21-35 Matthew 19:1-12 Matthew 19:13-30 Matthew 20:1-16 Matthew 20:17-34
Matthew 21: 1-11 Matthew 21:12-17 Matthew 21:18-22 Matthew 21:23-46 Matthew 22:1-14 Matthew 22:15-46
Matthew 23:1-39 Matthew 24:1-31 Matthew 24:32-44 Matthew 25:1-46 Matthew 26:1-13 Matthew 26:14-54
Matthew 26: 54-75 Matthew 27:1-26 Matthew 27:27-66 Matthew 28:1-20    
           

 

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Matthew 23:1-39

 

“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:  all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works:  for they say and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do for to be seen of men:  they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the market, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.  But be not ye called Rabbi:  for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.  And call no man your father upon the earth:  for one is your Father, which is in heaven.  Neither be ye called masters:  for one is your Master, even Christ.  But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.  And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.  But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men:  for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer:  therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.  Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!  Ye fools and blind:  for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?  And, Whosoever shall swear by the alter, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.  Ye fools, and blind:  for whether is greater, the gift, or the alter that sanctifieth the gift?  Whoso therefore shall swear by the alter, sweareth by it, and by all the things thereon.  And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.  And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith:  these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.  Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for ye are like whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.  Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous.  And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.  Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?  Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes:  and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.  That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.  Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.  For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

 

“So, we are in Matthew 23.  You know, as we turn there, I’d like to say a prayer to just kind of prepare our hearts.  But I was reminded, my wife had a little note out for me this morning…But there is a family, many of you know, you’ve heard in the news about this family one town over, but obviously they’re just facing a difficult hour with the loss of their son.  Let’s just join as a group of people and pray for that family.  ‘Lord, we just want to lift this family up to you in the town next door.  We know in our own cities around here there are many times that people experience loss and tragedy and suffering.  And yet we think of even a family right now, Lord.  And I thank you that we can pray.  That we can ask you at a time where a mom and dad and family are in the midst of incredible grief, that we can ask that you would bring your grace and love and compassion, and your favor and your comfort, as only a supernatural God could possibly do at a time like this.  So we lift a family to you, Lord, that needs your love and grace, and just lift them to you.  Also friends, kids in their school system, touch hearts and lives.  I pray in the midst of a very dark hour, as such, that the light of Jesus Christ would shine bright, and lives would turn to you at such a time.  I thank you Lord.  And as we now come to your Word, we thank you that we can study your Word, it is your Word.  And I ask that you’d open our hearts, even now, and you’d give us light and wisdom, and you’d speak to us, Lord.  Father, place your Holy Spirit upon all of us, even myself now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, amen.’  

 

A Warning About Hypocritical “Plastic” Religion

 

Now as you turn to Matthew 23, if I were to ask you to close your Bibles, and ask you a question, what do you think would be the last sermon that Jesus would preach publicly, what was his last sermon? I would imagine we probably would get different answers.  And based upon the way we know Jesus, and the way we’ve seen him minister, of course, he’s given many sermons to the masses, he’s taught many things.  But we would probably think of, you know, he’s been compassionate, he’s reached out to them, he’s encouraged them, he’s exhorted them, and we would expect I’m sure a certain sort of sermon to be the final sermon as far as a public sermon, one that he shared with the masses.  And what we find today, it’s quite different from what I would expect.  This last public sermon of Jesus, what appears to be that, is one actually that is, well, it’s got an edge to it.  It’s one where he lashes just tremendously the religious leaders, just rebukes them.  Yet at the same time, it’s a great warning to his people, his kids, and those that just have a heart for him, it’s a great warning to them about these religious leaders, these hypocrites.  It’s about not listening to them as far as following them, following their ways.  Now we have other examples of shepherds in the New Testament that at the close of their lives, they seem to have a similar sort of message.  I think of Paul, the last time he’s with the elders, the Ephesian elders in Miletus, Acts chapter 20.  He gives a somewhat similar exhortation warning them about these false teachers that will arise.  [see Acts 20:17, 25-31.]  Then there’s Peter, his last Epistle, he even says in it, ‘I’m just about to die’, he says in his Epistle, 2nd Peter.  And yet as you look at 2nd Peter, a lot of it has to do with false teachers and their ways, and the way they just defile and corrupt lives.  And yet it is an exhortation to God’s people to be careful about who they’re listening to and what they’re receiving.  Well that’s a bit like what Jesus is going to do, as we pick up now in chapter 23.  We will see his heart.  It is certainly the heart of a shepherd, one that has tremendous disdain for false teaching, and false religion, yet one that looks at the sheep before him.  You remember as he looked out to the sheep at another time in Matthew, he saw them as sheep that were weary and tired, without a shepherd.  And yet he has that same heart, cares for them, has concern for them as he’s about to depart, knowing the battle that they’re going to face with just the pressures of false teachers and false religions.  So, that’s where we go as we pick up in chapter 23.  Now, maybe you’ve never been here before and listened in before.  And chapter 23 is one of those chapters that, boy, it’s the human heart, we would like texts that just make us feel good, that are sweet, and easy to receive.  And that’s good, there are many that we’ve seen, even in Matthew as we’ve gone through that are just, ah, ‘That was just nice.’  When I come to those passages and I teach them, often people are coming up, ‘Oh that was just what I needed to hear, oh that was so nice.’  And then you come to passages like this, and folks tend not to shake your hand at the end or whatever [laughter].  But we’re interested in the whole meal.  There are things that we need even in our physical bodies in our diet, a lot of us don’t like broccoli, but we need broccoli.  You know what I’m saying?  We need it all to grow, and that’s certainly like this passage, we need these things in order to be strong and to be wise.  And this is the greatest preacher that ever lived, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  This is his last sermon that he shares publicly.  And people, in their last words, when they die, often those are critical words, those are powerful words, words of encouragement, words of wisdom, sometimes words of warning.  And so here’s his last public sermon.  This isn’t his last teaching, he’s going to teach his disciples a little bit more [thankfully we have those chapters, such as Matthew 25 and John 13 through 16].  He’s going to exhort people in different ways in the next few days.  But this is the last time with all the masses. 

 

Be discerning of the leadership over you

 

Chapter 23, verses 1-3, “ Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying:  ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.”  You might remember from our last studies, this is Traditionally seen as Tuesday, this last week Jesus is on this earth [I go by the Hebrew calendar reckoning of this for the year 30AD, which would make this Sunday, as I stated before.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/lamb/lastsix.htm to see an excellent study on the timing sequence for Jesus’ last six days alive as a human on earth before his resurrection back to immortality.]  He’s crucified in just a couple days.  And Tuesday [Sunday] is generally seen as a day of confrontation.  We’ve been watching him in confrontation with the religious leaders.  And it has been building up and building up.  They even tried to corner him, they tried to trap him.  They actually tried to trap the Word in word, and you can’t do that very well, and they didn’t do very well.  Sort of like a bull-rider jumping on a big bull that is much more powerful, and bigger than they anticipated, and quickly being flung off.  These guys tried to corner Jesus, and they in the end looked rather silly.  Then Jesus just kind of nailed it down, as he then cornered them.  And Matthew records in chapter 22, verse 46, these words, “And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question him anymore.”  I mean, they just knew that they were beaten, and not gonna go there anymore as far as trying to trap him in words.  But yet now he turns to the multitudes.  There are presumably thousands, maybe tens of thousands, it’s that time of year, it’s Passover.  Josephus the historian tells us that the crowds would be very large in Jerusalem at this time.  The Temple Mount itself is a large area.  When you go with us on Israel trips, there’s a good number of acres there.  The Muslims will have holy days up on the Temple Mount even today, and they can have tens of thousands of people up there when they do that.  So there is potentially a lot of people that are around him, people that are able to listen in.  And these are the things that he begins to exhort them.  I find it interesting, he speaks about a certain type of leadership, what makes up a corrupt leadership.  It’s a hypocritical leadership, it’s a false leadership.  Tonight we’re having what’s called our “Call To Serve Class.”  And if you’re in that class, by the way, at 5 o’clock we’re having a pot-luck dinner.  And be gracious with me, I realize there’s the Superbowl tonight, and we kind of spaced and do our best planning, not that we want to keep people from family time, Superbowl, but we scheduled something on the Superbowl.  So, I’ll be here anyway, if you won’t be here.  But then again, probably a lot of you will be here anyway.  5 o’clock is pot-luck.  Anyway, so we’re having the class, but the class is on “servant leadership”, and you know, the heart of a servant.  We want to grow in understanding, ‘What is a true leader?’, it’s a servant, it’s the greater servant.  And if I was to take the study we’re going to do in the class tonight, and then lay it next to what these leaders are, the contrast is so extreme, so far apart from what these men are.  And often religious leaders are like this.  And at times, we as Christians, who even know the Lord and have the Holy Spirit, we can get into traps and we can begin to become like this.  So it’s certainly something that is a warning and something to consider.  Now, he says to them, he says “the scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.”  That literally can be translated “the scribes and Pharisees have seated themselves in Moses’ seat.”  Meaning, they placed themselves in a certain position.  They put themselves in a certain place.  Now these guys obviously, they’re the priests, and physically they’re the descendants of the Levites, of the clan of Aaron.  Yet at the same time, there is this sense that Jesus is bringing forth, that they put themselves in a certain place of authority, and they want to be seen that way.  And that is often the case with hypocritical religion, religious leaders, putting themselves in a place of authority, one that God doesn’t necessarily recognize, but one that they want to be seen in.  They are in a place of authority, in the sense of what they speak carries a certain authority.  In some instances, in the Church [Body of Christ] even today, they say what they speak is on par with the very words of God, it’s on a par with the Bible, the things they teach, their traditions, their interpretations.  They want it to be treated as weighty as the Word of God, and not to be questioned, not to be denied, but simply to be taken---“We are in this seat, we have this authority, so this is the Word of God.”  Now the challenge with that, is it goes against the very Word of God.  You consider different verses for instance.  The Book of Acts, we see this, the Bereans in the Book of Acts.  Paul is going around from town to town, he comes to the Bereans.  And it says this about them, in the sense that this is good to be like, we should be like them.  “They were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”  So they’re mentioned as being fair-minded, as wise.  Paul taught, the apostle Paul taught certain things.  But they’re like, ‘Well wait a minute, are these things true, we want to check it out to make sure it lines up with the rest of the facts [i.e., lines up with the Word of God].’  We’re then told by Paul in 1st Thessalonians chapter 5, he says, “Test all things, holding fast what is good.”  Test all things.  And then the apostle John himself in 1st John chapter 4, verse 1 says that we’re not to believe ‘every spirit, “but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  Now, these men sat in the seat of Moses, they wanted you to think that they have authority, it’s very clear, and what they said was just the Word of God period.  But yet, we read in the Bible as a believer, I am to be wise. You’re not just to take me at my word.  Whatever I teach, you’re not just to say ‘Well that’s just doctrine, and that’s just the way it is, that’s what the pastor says.’  Of course, that’s the easiest, that’s kind of the lazy thing to do.  But you’re not to do that.  You’re to be fair minded, you’re to be wise, you’re to know the Word of God, and you’re to test and to discern, ‘Is that truth, or is that error?’.  And that’s what you’re supposed to do with any teaching you hear, that you hear on TV, that you hear on Radio, that you read in a book, you’re to know the Bible and to test.  Now, furthermore, we’re told that we have the means to discern, and that we have the greatest Teacher within us, the Holy Spirit.  [cf. John chapter 14 & 16, read them.]  John, the apostle John writes in 1st John chapter 2, “But the anointing [that is the Holy Spirit] which you have received from him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you.  But as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in him.”  He says, ‘The anointing, you have, you do not need a teacher, the Holy Spirit within you will give you discernment.’  And so, hypocritical religion, we see these guys, they wanted to be in the seat where you looked to them, and that was just it.  But we’re told in the Bible, we need to be wise.  Be wise, and know the Word of God for yourselves, and make sure that what you’re being taught is truth.

 

Hypocritical leaders may teach the truth---but don’t live by it

 

Now, he continues by exhorting the crowd, in verse 3, he says, ‘Whatever these guys say, and whatever they teach, go and do that, but please don’t do what you see them do, because what they say and what they do don’t line up.’  And that’s often the case too with hypocritical religion.  There are people that lack integrity, they will say one thing, but yet their lives mean and say a whole other thing.  Their lips speak one thing, their lives speak a whole other deal.  And so he says, listen…Now a little bit later he’s actually going to deal with some of their teaching, because a lot of their teaching was just silly and goofy.  But when he says here, ‘Do what they say as far as what they’re teaching,’ he’s especially referring to the Law because they did have the Law of God and they would read the Law of God, and they would share the Law of God.  And that was the Law of God that they were teaching.  Their interpretations got goofy and silly, as did their traditions.  But the Law was the Law.  And so when it came to law, listen, discern, and it’s the Law of God, do the Law of God.  But these guys when it even came to the Law of God, they didn’t do what they said.  Their lives were very different, they lacked integrity.  Now the American Heritage Talking Dictionary, which I have on my computer, defines the word “integrity”, it says, “the state of being unimpaired, soundness.  The quality or condition of being whole or undivided, completeness.”  And they were not that, in that sense of soundness and being complete.  There was certainly a lack of integrity.  Well, for those reasons he says, when it comes to the Law, man, do the Law, but don’t do what they do, because there’s a tremendous inconsistency.  Maybe that’s been your exposure to religion thus far.  Maybe you’re here today, and that’s part of your challenge.  You’ve heard things taught over and over again.  But then when you’re with people in public, maybe even in private, these very people, you see their very lives do not match up with what they teach.  Their lives are very inconsistent, there’s a lack of integrity, so you’ve been turned off to religion, as a result you’re turned off, ‘Listen, those hypocrites!, hypocrites, look at them, they say one thing and do another.’  And the truth is, is every one of us struggle with hypocrisy to a degree.  I mean, there is hypocrisy in my life, there is hypocrisy in your life.  I am not perfect, you are not perfect, and so there is that sense that I can teach things, and you could be with me at a time, and go, ‘You know, you said that, but I’m looking at the speedometer, and I’m looking at the sign, and I’ve got a problem here, pastor Steve, this isn’t lining up, man, with what you say, you’re going fast dude.’  I mean, that could happen in my life, it happens, none of us are perfect.  But there’s a huge chasm, there’s a huge difference between people who are sincerely seeking God and are not perfect, yet the Spirit of God is working in them, in a church, and a family, and as individuals, as opposed to just hypocritical legalistic religion, where people are into this Law thing, and spouting all this stuff, and yet the Spirit of God isn’t there, and their lives are so different from what they’re preaching.  Now, maybe you’ve been turned off.  People try to use that as an excuse, they’ll say ‘Hypocrites, hypocrites, not going to be a part of a church, or part of Christ, hypocrites.’  But look at what Jesus says.  Jesus doesn’t say that’s an excuse you can use.  He says these guys are hypocrites, but do what they say, meaning, when the Law is taught and the Word of God is actually taught, do the Word of God.  You need to discern and do it, you’re still responsible to do it.  So there’s no excuse to say that you can’t follow Christ because of hypocrites you’ve been exposed to.  Though it is a challenge, to be raised in that environment and to be exposed to just tremendous hypocrisy. 

 

Hypocritical churches, leaders will lay heavy burdens on others, but they never try to help others

 

Verse 4, “For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”  He says also about these guys, this hypocritical religion, that their religion has made people miserable, that’s what it’s done.  Their methods, their understanding of God and spirituality, has just made people feel miserable, rather than exposing people to the power of God, to the love of God, to the grace of God, to just the joy of the Lord and the work of the Spirit.  These people have squashed men and women, they’ve just laid heavy burdens on them, they’ve repressed them and just heaped up a huge system, that rather than encourage, it has just repressed them, made them miserable.  And that’s because they’re legalists.  And in being legalists, man these guys, the system that they came up with, thousands of rules [in the Talmud and Mishna] and regulations, thousands of them as we study their writings.  And they just heaped up these heavy burdens, hard to bear, they put them on people.

[The Sabbath was meant to be a joy, they made it into a heavy burden, with literally thousands of do’s and don’t’s they attached to God’s simple Sabbath command.]  But then you see, another thing about them, is that they were unsympathetic in their ministry, they had this big legal system, they put it on top of people, but they wouldn’t lift one finger to help.  You’d come to church, you’ve got issues, you’ve got struggles, you’d sit down in the synagogue, man, you want to know God, and life has been very difficult, and you are yet there sincerely.  And here they come, week after week, and they just spout stuff, and you’re learning ‘I didn’t know I couldn’t do that, and I didn’t know I should do that.’  And you’re taking notes, and the list is getting longer and longer and longer and longer and longer and longer, making your heart and life harder and harder and harder and harder.  And yet they wouldn’t care.  It didn’t really move them.  They didn’t even live according at least to the spirit of it themselves, and were unsympathetic. Now, contrast that with Jesus, so different as a servant, a giver of life.  Matthew chapter 11, verse 28, you know the verses, Jesus said “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.  And you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Contrast that with these guys.  And that’s the way religion works.  Maybe that’s been your experience, you’ve been part of a church organization, and it’s just made you heavy, it made you feel condemned.  There was no life, there was no power.  And so here you are, and wondering.  Jesus gives us an example of that same sort of thing, this hypocritical religion.  You know, if you’ve been trapped by that, if you’ve been trapped by that, remember, what’s important is not perfection of performance.  Perfection of performance is not the issue, what’s important, the main issue is perfection of relationship, meaning this, it’s all about a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It’s all about knowing him.  It’s about a love relationship where you love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and you walk with him.  As Adam walked with God in the Garden, you walk with him and you love him and you just fellowship with him.  And as you do, you become more like him and then the works come from that.  It’s not this performance thing, where you’re just trying to work it out and be good and have perfection of performance.  No, it’s relationship, perfection of relationship, that’s the focus, is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul.  [Personally, I think it’s a combination of both.]

 

Hypocritical leaders love recognition, want to be seen, noticed

 

Verses 5-12, “But all their works they do to be seen of men.  They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the bonders of their garments.  They love the best places at the feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’  But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, he who is in heaven.  And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.  But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.  And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Another thing about this sort of hypocritical religion, is this love for recognition, wanting to be seen, wanting to be in the limelight, wanting to just appear important.  These guys love to be the distinguished guys, they wanted that place at the table where they would be seen as important.  They wanted to be up on stage, where they were in the seat of prominence, they wanted to be looked at as just special and to be given the honorary titles, to be pointed out when they walked in the room, to be mentioned when they were in a group of people.  That’s where they were coming from.  That was what it was all about, they loved it, they loved it.  [Comment:  So who did God call to replace them?  Who did God call into his fledgling church that first Pentecost, and from there on out through the ages?  Turn to 1st Corinthians 1:26-29 and read it.  Never say God doesn’t have a sense of humor.]  When you saw them in the street you’d go ‘Hey!  Rabbi!’, and they loved to hear that, ‘Rabbi,’ and people would turn, ‘Oh there’s the Rabbi.’  They loved that kind of stuff.  And that’s often the heart of man, and it’s often the heart of religion, and they’re doing the things that they’re doing so that people will see, people will recognize them.  You know, there’s a fine line, even in the worship service, when we’re worshipping the Lord.  And the heart ultimately makes the determination, but you can be in the middle of the service, and you can be standing and raising your hands and singing to God, and one heart can be doing that sincerely, where I’m just raising my hands and singing to God, and another heart’s doing it because, ‘Hey, look at me, notice me, right in the front row, I’m sure you can’t miss, there’s my hands, look, look, how spiritual I am, I am so in love with God.’  And yet God knows, ‘That guy’s not even thinking of me, he’s just thinking about everybody else thinking about him, or the gal.’  And we do that same thing, we do it to be recognized.  And though, oh boy, so different than Jesus, so different than Jesus. Now these guys were so into it, they took passages like Deuteronomy chapter 6, verses 4 and 6, and I’ll read that to you.  There’s a number of passages like this in the Old Testament, you know this.  “You shall teach them diligently to your children”, that is, the Word of God, so important that it’s near you, “and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and on your gates.”  Now, they took that literally, they missed the whole point.  The point is, Word of God, you should love the Word of God and fear God and want to know it, and want your family to just be bathed in the Word of God, and have the Word of God just so permeate your life.  But they took it literally, they missed the point.  ‘Ok, so I’m supposed to put the Word of God on my hand and I’m supposed to put the Word of God between my eyes.  So they made these things, the phylacteries.  They made these little boxes, and they took parchment and little scrolls and they put them in there.  Now, in order to write portions of Scripture on those little dinky scrolls, I mean, they have found some, and it’s a marvel how they wrote so small without modern science, you couldn’t even read it with human eyes.  And so you can’t even read that stuff that’s in the box, but they’d take the box, and would actually then tie it to their wrist, and then they would tie another one so it was attached to their forehead.  And because they wanted to be seen as being pretty cool with God, they’d make the box bigger and bigger.  Can you imagine, some guy’s walking, and has this massive box on his forehead.  But the point is this, ‘Look at me, I love God so much.  I’ve got the Word of God right there.’  They made them larger.  And God spoke about the hem of the robe, you know, it was to be made a certain way to remind them of God, and alright, so it was supposed to be on the bottom.  But what they did in some instances is they made them huge.  You’d be following this guy, and there’d be this big old hem, dragging along, big old thing.  You’d be like ‘Wow!  Look at this spiritual guy, he’s out of control.  And he’s just zealous.’  And that was the thought, they wanted to be seen, they wanted to be recognized, they loved the recognition, it was something that just consumed their heart.  And, boy, I tell you, you and I can do the same though, can’t we, in different ways.  They loved the best seats in the synagogues.  In the synagogues there would be this semicircular bench up front, and as the religious leaders they’d just love being up there.  Sometimes it would be raised, and you’d sit up front, and you’d be there, and people would come in, and there you are, you’re in the important seats.  They loved that kind of stuff.  It’s funny that Jesus is addressing a certain spirit, and today in the Church [Body of Christ], it’s so often the same things go on.  You’ve been there, going, ‘Why are they seated up there?  They’ve never said a word, they’ve never been a part of any service, but they’re always up front, and they’re looking at me, making me feel uncomfortable, but they’re always up there, loving that place,’ like the gram pum-paw, you know what I mean.  And they’ve got the special robe on, in some cases they’ve even got hats, you know, they’re sitting up there, they’re special.  [In God’s eyes, those hats are dunce’s hats.]  That’s the way these guys were.  Jesus is so different, he’s so different.  They want the special chair, the special robe and the special hat.  Jesus, the Son of God himself, in a short time, with his disciples, will take off his garment, he will put on a towel, he will get on the ground with a basin of water, and he will begin to wash their dirty, disgusting feet, taking the position of a slave, to show them what greatness really is about.  They thought it was one thing, he shows them it’s another.  The heart of man, this is hypocritical false religion, they loved to be called Rabbi.  Literally rabbi means “My great one.”  And it wasn’t always taken that way, but that was in that word, “my great one.”  They loved that.  But Jesus said to these guys, John chapter 5, verse 44, “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?”  You want honor from men.  It’s a trap for you, therefore it’s hard for you to even believe in God, because you’re so consumed with what people think.  He says, and we have this in the middle of this, he says to the masses, ‘Listen, you want to be spiritual?  You want to be a true leader, a servant leader?  Don’t have anybody call you Rabbi, don’t have anybody call you Teacher, don’t have anybody call you Father.  George is good, John is good, Sally is just fine.’  And when it comes to me, you can just call me Steve.  That’s just fine, because of what it says here, Steve.  Or any other leader, really.  I think it’s interesting, the traditions we have in the Church, given what Jesus says here, given what he says.  [Some parts of the Body of Christ, obviously, by their actions, are not really part of the Body of Christ.  Be discerning.]  You know, Most Revered Fred, why do you want to be called Most Revered (or Reverend, same thing).  You’ll see on the business card that title, and then a bunch of little letters after his name, signifying all kinds of degrees you’ve never even heard of.  [There is a saying that PhD means “Piled Higher and Deeper”, wonder what Th.D. stands for?]  He says, ‘Don’t be called Rabbi, don’t be called Teacher,’ and then even more interesting, he says ‘Don’t call anybody Father.’  And now you’re thinking, that’s interesting, given the traditions we have in the [Catholic] Church.  Why ‘Father’?  Well he says, “Don’t call anyone your father, for One is your Father who is in heaven.”  Now, he’s not saying that your earthly biological father is not to be called father, or Dad.  That actually is honorable to call our dad’s father.  That’s just fine, or Abba, you know, you had the language of the day at this time.  [Comment:  “Abba” was the Hebrew word for Daddy.]  But spiritually, Jesus is saying, we have one spiritual Father, one Father, who is able to infuse in us life.  And he is the giver of life, and because he is the giver of life, he is the only Father, he’s my spiritual Father.  And no other man or woman has that place.  He has that place.  So Jesus made it clear.  You have one Father, and call him your Father, but don’t call any man Father.  Now, there are men I love that are called Father, for some reason, and I have the hardest time because of this passage, calling them Father.  And I’ll even call their church, you know, somebody’s going to answer, and they’re expecting that I say ‘Father’ Bob (and I don’t know a Father Bob), but I go, ‘Ah, can I talk to pastor Bob.’  But that’s what he’s saying.  It’s interesting.  Now Paul, in his Epistles, saw himself in a sense as a spiritual father to the Church, in the sense of that kind of ministry, of discipling and training.  Yet he did not ever call himself Father, or want to be called Father.  What he wanted to be called, as we look at his Epistles, he started out and said, “Paul, a bondservant…”, “Paul, a slave…writing to you, church…”  your slave, your servant.  Not Father Paul, he never wanted to be called that, understanding the heart of what really is a true servant.  You know, Jesus does say, “Whoever is greatest among you shall be your servant”, ‘and he who exalts himself is going to be humbled, but if you humble yourself, you’ll be exalted.’

 

Hypocritical religion can block your entry into the kingdom of God

 

Verses 13, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” And boy, I tell you, that’s a strong statement.  It’s one thing to mess up your own life, it’s a whole other thing to prevent others from entering God’s Kingdom…[tape switchover, some text lost]…It’s interesting, some people have taken the “woes” and have then contrasted them against the Sermon on the Mount, the blessings there, you know, the Beatitudes.  It’s very interesting to make that contrast, if you ever do that.  With each one you can line them up, and maybe that’s a study you want to do on your own.  But he follows with “woe, woe, woe.”  Now the word “woe” in English, I don’t use this kind of woe very often, I don’t know about you.  You might say “Woe!”, but you don’t really say “Woe to you.”  I mean, it’s not something we do very often in English.  But the English word is not even a good rendering of the Greek.  Because we don’t have an English word that has the full meaning of the Greek word for this.  The Greek word that is translated to us “woe”, actually, it has that sense of the wrath and power and anger of God.  But on the other hand it also in that word has the sense of sorrow.  It is possible then as Jesus is saying these things, that in the heart there’s tears in his eyes as he’s going through and he’s admonishing in the way that he is.  [That fits, look at the last verses in the chapter, verses 37-39.]  He says, ‘These guys, man, they not only shut off the kingdom of God to themselves, shut the door, they’ve taken the keys and they’ve tossed them so that you can’t get in.’  They’ve blocked the way into the kingdom of heaven.  They don’t know the way, but they stand in the place, and try to have an influence on your life where they are blocking the way into the kingdom of heaven, getting in the way.  And you can’t imagine how that must anger God.  You know, there are, I read this and I think of parts of the Church today, there are parts of the Church today where we have the same doctrine of Jesus, and so I say they’re part of the Church, because we have the same doctrine of Jesus (it’s all about him).  But there are groups that say they’re the Church but their doctrine of Jesus is not the same, they have a completely different Jesus, you know, one group has Jesus as the brother of Satan, you know, the spirit brother of Satan.  That’s not the same Jesus I worship.  And there are those who say that Jesus is not God, and that’s not the same Jesus I worship [i.e. Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, just to name two groups who do not believe Jesus is God].  But there are within [what he’s calling] the Church groups that have the same Jesus, and that’s it, man, same Jesus.  But yet I look, there are some that have the real Jesus, but then they have all this stuff that goes with it.  They have lists and lists of traditions, all sorts of ceremony, all sorts of different teachings, where it is possible, I believe, to go in and sit down in one of these churches where there is the real Jesus, but there’s so much in the way, that you may never see the real Jesus.  Because, in a way, all this stuff is blocking the way.  All this other stuff is becoming the focus, and so people, they might be very involved and excited, but yet have never really fell in love with Jesus, and had a relationship with him, and really walked with him, because of all this other stuff.  That’s what these religious hypocrites are like.  They were just blocking the way. 

 

“Woe to you!  For you devour widows’ houses!---do you know any churches that do this?

 

Verse 14, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.  Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.”  And that is not unlike many today.  You know the times in the Bible, you read as you go through it, you can’t help but see the heart of God towards the widow, the heart of God towards the orphan.  God loves the disadvantaged, he has such compassion towards the disadvantaged.  And Jesus says to these religious leaders, and they’re typical of this hypocritical religion, he says “You devour widows houses”, ‘the woman’s husband has died, you devour their houses.’  You can turn on the TV today and you can watch men like that, that will just work the crowds through the TV, and work the emotion.  And here’s the widow at home that, she’s barely getting by on that social security check, and he will spin words, spin emotions, ‘You’ve got to give a thousand dollars, and if you don’t give a thousand dollars you’re not going to experience the blessing of God.’  So here’s this little old widow whose not even getting by, can’t even pay for her medicine, who writes the check, because he is one of these, hypocritical, religious charlatans.  [Comment:  A very close friend of mine, we had both been members of a Sabbatarian Church of God for over 40 years, and when it broke up ten years after the death of it’s elderly leader, three or four major Sabbatarian Churches of God groups formed and splintered off of it and became denominations in their own right (along with a lot of smaller ones).  But one of them is what I term as a “toxic church.”  This friend of mine attended this church for a short while with her son.  They were at one of the Holy Days this church observes, putting their offering into the basket as it was being passed along, when she and her son heard one of the leaders of this denomination make a pitch for widows to sign over their property to them, and that they would in turn take care of them.  My friend’s son immediately reached right into the basket and pulled out their offering envelope!  Then he said, “Mom, let’s get out of here!” and they both walked out the door.  This church denomination used to be called “the Global Church of God”, but has since changed it’s name---but “spots on this Leopard haven’t changed” as the saying goes.  There are some wonderful loving, non-toxic Sabbatarian Church of God denominations out there, and there are the toxic ones out there.  I personally attend one of the non-toxic ones with my friend.  Word to the wise, you have to be discerning.  God will judge the leaders in these toxic churches soon enough.]  Well, they take advantage of the disadvantaged.  You know, I read this, and I’m going to quote to you from this book, because I can’t help but think of this story in this book, maybe you’ve read this book, I’ve quoted from it before, it’s called “Fifty Years In The Church of Rome.”  It’s an older book, it’s a big book, and it’s enlightening.  But this man writes from experience, and he writes a story.  His dad died, the book begins, it doesn’t take too long where you actually get to this little story where his father has died, and just the horror going on. It was unexpected, dad dies.  Mom now has three children, and he’s the oldest child, but he’s very young, and just the sorrow and tragedy, people are coming by trying to help, they have nothing.  Dad had a lot of debt, they have nothing.  One day they look out the window, here comes a priest, and this priest, as priests were in this area of Quebec, had a lot of money, and they looked out of the window going ‘Oh, he’s coming to help us.’  Well, he comes to the door.  Rather than coming to help, he then says to the widow, “Hey, you know, you need to pay some payment, we’re doing these services for your deceased husband, singing songs, sharing prayers, you need to give some money.”  Well, she replies, and I’m quoting to you from the book, “My husband left me nothing but debt.  I have only the work of my own hands to procure a living for my three children.  For these little orphans sake, if not for mine, do not take from us the little that is left.”  But the priest said, “But Madame, you do not reflect, your husband died suddenly, and without preparation.  He is therefore in the flames of purgatory.  If you want him to be delivered, you must necessarily unite your personal sacrifices to the prayers of the Church, and the Masses which we offer.”  Well the mother breaks down, crying, and in the book he shares, she tries to reason with him, and she’s weeping.  And now this young boy who sees this, he shares, anger welled up within him, he wanted to say certain things, but he held back.  After crying in her tears, the mother said, “Listen, I have nothing, all we have left is the milk-cow outside, and that’s our only sustenance, is butter and milk from this cow.”  Well the priest said, “OK.”  He goes out the door, they watch, and to their absolute horror he walks over to the cow, unties the cow and walks off with the cow, down the road.  Now, I tell you what.  There was a God in heaven that was very angry that day, because you read in the Bible, God loves the widow and he loves the orphan. [Look up the words “fatherless,” “widow” and “orphan” in Strongs Concordance and see what God has to say about them.]  And when men and women stand, and they take advantage of the disadvantaged, and use the name of religion, God will deal with them.  “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you devour the widows houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.  Therefore you will receive greater condemnation” (verse 14).  Compare this with James chapter 1, verse 27, where James said, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  To visit orphans and widows in their trouble.  To come and minister to them, to come and help them.  To come and love them, and not to spin a deal to your advantage, using religion.  That happens so often, even today.  I pray that you and I, that never gets into our hearts.  As a congregation that we’re a church that gives and gives and gives.  Not taking, but giving, and loving in the name of Christ.  [For a non-denominational organization that does that worldwide, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm]

 

Beware of churches, people, who convert people to themselves and their own pet doctrines

 

Verse 15, “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.”  Now that ain’t helping.  As this confrontation increases, but he is the heart of God.  And it’s very possible that these words are being said with tears.  But hypocritical religion, now it’s possible it’s referring to when they converted people to Pharisee-ism, their religious zeal and code and system, not so much Judaism, because the nation of Israel was to be a light to the world.  And people would come and convert to Judaism, and they were to bring the heart of God to the world.  But these guys, they weren’t converting people to God, they were converting people to themselves.  Paul, the apostle Paul, as you read in the book of Acts, he goes and he plants churches, and then he would leave the area.  And he writes in his Epistles, these Judaizers would come. [and these were Pharisaic Judaizers, sent by the Pharisees who had converted to Christianity, but their sympathies really lay with their unconverted Pharisee friends in the Temple.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/galatians/Galatians1-1-24.htm  and scroll to the back of the section that deals with who the Judaizers were.]  Here’s this little church, these people have come out of paganism, man, they’re just in love with God, they’re worshipping God, they’ve been saved out of all kinds of horrendous stuff.  Now here comes these Judaizers who come in and say a whole lot, ‘You need to obey the Law’, (not meaning the Law of God, but) the Pharisaical system, the whole religious code.  And then, Paul, you’ve read his stuff, he gets so angry.  These Judaizers, they just want you to join them, and look to them, and admire them, and become one of them, because you’ll look up to them.  And that’s this hypocritical religion, zealous to convert people to themselves.  [To see how the Early Church got started, and who and how Paul evangelized throughout Asia Minor and started churches there, and what they were actually like, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm.] Well, somebody was zealously trying to convert people to themselves was what they were trying to do.

 

False hypocritical religion is full of silly non-Biblical rules

 

Verses 16-22, “Woe to you blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold in the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’  Fools and blind!  For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?  And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’  Fools and blind!  For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?  Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it.  He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it.  And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by him who sits on it.”  He says “Blind guides”, they were blinded to the truth, and then when they interpreted just the heart of God and the Law, they got strange, they came up with a silly set of rules.  And basically you see the logic here is, you know, Jesus said earlier about these guys, ‘Don’t swear by anything.  Just make your ‘yes’, yes, and your ‘no’ no.  But in this swearing they even had this code that said, ‘Hey, if you swear by the gold,’ as it says there, ‘you’ve got a little wiggle room, you can make an oath, ‘I’m going to do this, and I swear by the gold in the temple.’  And later if you change your mind, hey, not so big of a deal, but don’t swear, as he says, ‘don’t swear by the gift on the altar, if you swear by the gift on the altar, man, that’s it, you’ve got to do it.’  Really?  Kind of silly, what if you did the wrong one?  And didn’t really mean what you said?  Now you’re stuck.  Jesus said “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no” (Matthew 5).  But the point being, it’s just a silly system of rules.  That’s what false religion, hypocritical religion does. 

 

The Pharisees were missing the whole point of God’s Word

 

Verses 23-24, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law:  justice and mercy and faith.  These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.  Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”  Now that’s no fun.  He says they pay tithe.  Now these guys are so extreme, the Law said ‘pay the tithe of your seed and of your produce’ and they took it to the extreme.  They’d get down with the little tiniest of their seeds, and they would count them out, ten for God, ninety for me, they would just do that.  And they were extreme about it.  But when it came to love, and justice and mercy and faith, where was that?  They were working at the gnat, straining out the gnat.  You know, the wine and that, the little bugs would come, and the gnats would possibly die in the wine, and Leviticus 11, the gnat was unclean, and in Leviticus 11 the camel was unclean.  They saw the gnat as the smallest little critter that you could be defiled by, and the camel as the largest.  But they would work like crazy trying to get the little gnat, he says, in a pitcher, you would take the wine, you’d put the cloth over it, and you’d pour out the wine through the cloth to catch the little gnats.  Now somebody told me after the first service, the reason why you’d strain out the gnats, they’ve had wine where little gnats have gone in there, and the little bacteria gets going if you don’t get them, you drink that wine, you’re not going to feel very well because of those little bugs, there’s a little bit of stomach problem you’re going to have.  But their working at straining the gnats, and their missing the whole point, they’re counting the seeds, but they’re missing that it’s a love relationship with God, they’re missing the whole meal, their missing the whole point.  They’ve got this legalistic thing, but they don’t have the power of God.  And that’s hypocritical religion, straining out the gnat but missing the whole meal.  And that’s what they did. 

 

Hypocritical religions and churches are all show on the outside, extortion and lawlessness on the inside

 

So he continues, he says Verses 25-28, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  You know, just plastic religion, hypocritical religion, that’s all on the outside, and there’s no reality on the inside.  Imagine taking a dish, and you’ve got people coming over this afternoon, and maybe you take all your dishes, and you had spaghetti last night, it’s been sitting in the sink overnight, you’ve got this sauce in their and the noodles stuck to the side.  You take each dish out and you clean the outside of the dish.  Family comes over and you set out the dishes, and imagine, you’ll probably never see those people again.  If they sit down, and they have that for their dish.  The foolishness, he says ‘You guys work on the outside, but what about what counts, the inside. He says, you’re like a whitewashed tomb.  The month before Passover, the month of Adar, they would actually go out and cleanse and clean the tombs, because the tombs were typically along the roads.  People would travel from afar, and there would be in some instances a lot of tombs along the roads.  And if you touched a grave, tomb, according to Numbers chapter 19, verse 16, if you touched a grave, you’d be unclean, big deal on the Passover season.  So they would go out the month before, they’d get them all looking nice so you would see them, you wouldn’t inadvertently sit on one or lean on one, and become defiled.  He says ‘You’re like a whitewashed tomb, you did all that work to make it look legalistically one way, but dead men’s bones are inside.’  I was with somebody this week, driving by, and I notice they were there from our church, they had gotten in a little fender-bender, so I pulled over.  And they have a Toyota, and a nice car, and we were standing there, and we both noted this, in that little fender-bender where they got rear-ended, but their plastic bumper, nice Toyota plastic bumper, it was cracked, and as you looked inside, what was inside was Styrofoam.  But it was the kind of Styrofoam that they make the Styrofoam cups from, that white Styrofoam, and it looks strange, I mean, what do they make cars from today, it’s Styrofoam inside your car!  I mean, you paid a lot of money for this.  And it’s kind of like that, all plastic, but you’ve got Styrofoam inside.  There’s no real power and strength in your life.  [Also don’t forget, Jesus is saying that these churches, “plastic” religions, they look really beautiful on the outside, but are filled with extortion, self-indulgence and lawlessness.  You must be discerning, on guard about the church you attend, the denomination you are a part of.  Don’t be afraid to check them out to see if they have some kind of reputation or “baggage” that has escaped your notice.  Apply 2nd Corinthians 13:5 to your church as well.  I may save you a lot of grief later.  See if they are open with their books and accounting.]

 

The poison of hypocritical religion

 

verses 29-36,Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’  Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.  Serpents, brood of vipers!   How can you escape the condemnation of hell?  Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes:  some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”  Hypocritical religion, we see hypocritical religion here, we see the poison of it.  They build these tombs in honor of the Prophets, but their very fathers, their very fathers killed all the Prophets.  And they acknowledge that they’re descendents of those who killed the prophets, and he’s saying ‘You’re just like your fathers who killed the Prophets.’  And then he says, “Fill up the measure of your father’s guilt.”  The sense and the tense is as if he’s saying, ‘You killed them all, all the way through John the Baptist, now finish it off, here I am, Son of God, here I am, fill up now, it’s time to [earn] the full measure of your guilt.’  ‘Serpents, serpents, brood of vipers’, vipers are poisonous.  He calls them that, and that’s what this hypocritical religion is like, it’s poison.  And you can have a little fellowship of just the Spirit of God, and the wonderful work of the love of God there, and you bring in one of these kind of guys, and it’s like poison that numbs the life, it just kills the life.  Serpents, brood of vipers, that’s hypocritical religion, it’s poisonous, man, and it spreads, and we have to be on guard.  He mentions to them that they’re going to experience judgment, that the guilt of all these Prophets, their hands are covered with blood.  And he says, even from Abel, Abel, Hebrews 11, this man of faith that Cain killed because of his faith, they did that to the rest of the Prophets after that, all the way up through the blood of Zechariah the son of Berechiah.  There’s some debate about who this Zechariah is, but here it’s the son of Berechiah, and that would be the Prophet.  In the Bible we don’t have any note of him being murdered, but there is an atargum, a mention that he was murdered between the temple and the altar.  So it seems to be that’s who he’s referring to.  But all the Prophets.  Then finally as we come to the end of our time, verse 37.

 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets”

 

Verses 37-39, “O Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!’  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem’, it is interesting when Jesus says a name twice, each time he says a name twice, there’s the heart that is breaking.  He said to Peter, ‘Simon, Simon, indeed Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat.’  He said to Martha, he said, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.’  He said even to the apostle Paul, he said, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’  And now he says “O Jerusalem,  Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!’  He says, how often, just like a hen.  You’ve maybe seen the hens as dangers come, and they just gather the little chicks.  God says, ‘I’ve wanted to bring you near to me, I’ve sent the Prophets to draw you near to me, but you repeatedly refused to come near to me.  You weren’t willing.’  Interesting, the sovereignty of God, the heart of God, ‘I wanted you to be near’, man’s free choice, ‘but you were not willing.’  ‘See your house is left to you desolate.’  Right now they look around, it doesn’t look desolate.  But in 40 years, General Titus, he’ll come in, and in four years 1.6 million Jews will die.  There will even be cannibalism that goes on, and the nation of Israel [Judah] will disappear till 1948.  He says, “I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.’”  Now they were just saying that, the crowds were saying that as he came in, just a few days ago, Psalm 118.  And it is interesting he uses those words, that Messianic Psalm, and they are going to as a nation, the nation of Israel will be saying that not long from now again, I believe (cf. Zechariah 12:1-14], when Christ returns, and they see that he is the Messiah, when he comes and establishes his Kingdom.  Let’s stand together…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Matthew 23:1-39, given somewhere in New England] 

 

Related links:

 

To see a non-denominational organization that helps the disadvantaged worldwide, log onto:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm       

 

Who the Judaizers really were:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/galatians/Galatians1-1-24.htm

 

The balance the Bible really teaches about the Law:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm

 

How Paul evangelized and built churches “amongst the Gentiles”:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm

 

Chronological study detailing the last six days in Jesus life:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/lamb/lastsix.htm

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