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Matthew 23:16-39 ESV
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
I. 3RD WOE: MADE BIBLE SAY WHAT THEY WANTED (16-22)
A. Pharisees manipulated scriptures to get out of paying vows or living up to their end of oaths.
B. Anytime scripture is twisted to fit our agenda we commit same sin as Pharisees all over again.
II. 4TH WOE: MAJORING IN MINORS & NEGLECTING MAJORS (23-24)
A. Legalistically tithed spices but refused to help the poor.
B. Do not make religious devotion the sum of your Christianity. Pursue the big things of God and not just being more “holy” (moral).
III. WOE 5 & 6: OUTWARDLY PURE WHILE INWARDLY PUTRID (25-28)
A. Ignoring poor while looking devout was not just honest mistake. Symbolic of their desire to look good but remain inwardly greedy.
B. Tithing is bad metric for generosity. It looks good but does not mean a person is generous.
C. Our hearts are not tombs. They are filled with Spirit, producing visible transformation that goes beyond personal moral growth. (Gal 5:21-23)
IV. FINAL WOE: JUST LIKE THEIR EVIL ANCESTORS (29-36)
A. They think they are better than their fathers but they are worse because they are rejecting God Himself in Jesus.
B. These evil snakes should get busy killing Jesus and anyone God sends to them in the future and condemning themselves.
C. God sent messengers & is still sending messengers. Tells us of the patience, long-suffering, and kindness of God with mankind.
V. OH JERUSALEM (37-39)
A. Jesus laments over the fact that Jewish leaders will not receive Him.
B. Jesus is leaving and God is done for the moment with the Jews. One day, many Jews will turn and receive Jesus though.
1. Follow the Bible explicitly & not just where it is convenient.
2. Don’t get so bogged down in legalistic matters that you forget the main thing; the mission of Jesus.
3. Rejoice in patience of God with you & others. Be encouraged to not give up on people quickly because God does not give up quickly.