Archive for August 18th, 2010

Matthew 23

Matthew 23 is about as in your face as Jesus can be.  He is dealing with the religious leaders and definitely is not wearing the soft gloves – the gloves are off and everyone is getting a full dose of truth.  Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders as He talks to the crowds and His disciples.  He is calling them hypocrites to their very faces.  “Practice and observe whatever they tell you – but not what they do….for they preach, but do not practice”.  So we have a situation here where those who should be setting an example of how to live are merely giving it lip service and not walking the talk at all.  They are telling people how to live, but definitely not following their own direction.  They live in a way that takes advantage of their place in the world – making life difficult for others as they make it easy for themselves.  They are totally focused on self.  As Jesus lets them have it – He again reminds us how we must live to walk in His ways: “the greatest among you shall be your servant”.  Life as a Christ Follower is not about me, it is about serving others.  Leadership as a Christ Follower is not about me, it is about being a servant leader.  Life in God’s economy = serving others.  It is not about self.  It is about others.  Jesus makes it clear over and over in scripture.  We are like Him when we serve.  We are walking the talk when we humble ourselves and put others first.  It is in humility that He will exalt us.  It is when we get this right that we will see His blessing.

Jesus really takes the gloves off and seven times here says “woe to you” as He addresses the religious leaders.  Now that seems pretty confrontational to me.  He already knows they want to kill Him, but that doesn’t seem to matter much.  He is not swayed by their threats.  He calls them out on these things:

–       “you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces

–       you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte….you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves

–       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 tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness

–       you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence

–       you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness

–       you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets

Jesus really calls them out.  He identified a bunch of things that the religious leaders are hypocritical about.  One wasn’t enough – He has to blast them seven times and really point out just how off track they really are.  This isn’t a quiet rebuke happening behind the closed doors of the synagogue.  This is out in the midst of the crowds and Jesus is calling these folks out and making it clear they are really off track.  Are there any areas in your life where Jesus may be whispering “woe to you” because you are not walking the talk or walking according to the direction of His Word?  Do you need to make some course corrections to get back on track and obedience to His will?  Now is the time.  Life matters.  How we live makes a difference.  Don’t make the mistake the religious leaders of Jesus’ time did and get focused on self, ignoring God’s direction for life.  There will be a day of reckoning.  Get on track now!

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