October 23rd, 2006
Some people seem to have houses that are completely dirt-free throughout. There are no cobwebs in corner cupboards, no scuff marks on walls, no dust on the tops of bookshelves. For the rest of us, any appearance of neatness is a matter of sleight of hand. The cobwebs in the cupboard are neatly hidden when we have visitors, by the simple act of keeping the cupboard closed. Dirt gets swept under the carpet. Guests are never allowed near the tops of bookshelves. It’s not that important for your house to be dirt-free, but today’s message from Jesus is that your lifestyle has to be dirt-free if you want to go round preaching the benefits of dirt-free living to others.
Matthew’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 23
23:1 Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 23:2 “The religious lawyers and the Pharisees sit on Moses’s seat. 23:3 So practise and obey whatever they tell you to do, but don’t copy what they do because they don’t practise what they preach. 23:4 They concoct heavy burdens and place them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them. 23:5 They do all their works to be seen by people. They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the fringes of their garments, 23:6 and love the place of honour at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 23:7 the greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ by men. 23:8 Don’t you be called ‘Rabbi’ because you are all brothers and you have only one master. 23:9 Don’t call people on earth ‘fathers’ because you have only one heavenly Father. 23:10 Don’t be called teachers because you have only one teacher, the Christ. 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 23:12 Those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
23:13 “Woe to you, religious lawyers and Pharisees! You are hypocrites because you shut people out of the Kingdom of Heaven. You don’t go in yourselves, and you stop people who are trying to get in. 23:15 Woe to you, religious lawyers and Pharisees! You are hypocrites because you travel over sea and land to convert one person and then you make that person twice the child of hell that you are.
23:16 “Woe to you, blind leaders who say, ‘If you swear by the temple it means nothing, but if you swear by the gold of the temple it is binding.’ 23:17 Blind fools! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that makes the gold holy? 23:18 And you say, ‘If you swear by the altar it means nothing, but if you swear by the gift that is on the altar it is binding?’ 23:19 Blind fools! Which is more important, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy? 23:20 Someone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 23:21 Someone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who lives in it. 23:22 Someone who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by the one who sits on it.
23:23 “Woe to you, religious lawyers and Pharisees! You are hypocrites because you give a tenth of your mint, dill, and cummin, but you have ignored the more important parts of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. You should have done these, without neglecting the other things. 23:24 Blind leaders, you strain out a gnat while you’re swallowing a camel!
23:25 “Woe to you, religious lawyers and Pharisees! You are hypocrites because you clean the outside of the cup and the plate but leave the inside dirty with stolen goods and self-indulgence. 23:26 Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup, and then its outside may also be cleaned.
23:27 “Woe to you, religious lawyers and Pharisees! You are hypocrites because you are like whitewashed graves which look good on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and all kinds of dirt. 23:28 Outwardly you appear to be righteous, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and evil.
23:29 “Woe to you, religious lawyers and Pharisees! You are hypocrites because you build monuments for the prophets and decorate the tombs of the righteous, 23:30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we wouldn’t have been involved with them in killing the prophets.’ 23:31 You testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of the murderers of the prophets. 23:32 You fit right into your ancestors’ shoes. 23:33 You serpents, spawn of snakes, how will you escape the judgment of hell? 23:34 I am sending you prophets, wise people and teachers. You’re going to kill and crucify some of them, and you will scourge some of them in your synagogues and persecute them from city to city, 23:35 so that you will be guilty of all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the sanctuary and the altar. 23:36 I can guarantee that all these things will come upon this generation.
23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together like a hen gathering chickens under her wings, but you would not! 23:38 Now your house is left empty. 23:39 You won’t see me from now until the time when you will say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”
Entry Filed under: Legalism