After reading Matthew chapter 23 all I can say is, Wow! Jesus does not hold back as He condemns the religious leaders. Six (6) time Jesus says “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!”, He also says “Woe to you, blind guides!”, and finally He calls them “You snakes! You brood of vipers!” Jesus does not mince word with these men who are supposed to be leaders. They are more concerned with how they appear than with the spiritual health of the Jews. As I read this I could not help but think of those who call themselves leaders of our faith, along with myself as a believer. Are we hypocrites? Are we blind guides? Are we a brood of vipers? I hope not. But if we are, we know exactly how Jesus feels about it.
I know people often look at the Bible as an ancient book that may not apply to our modern society and/or current issues, but I am always amazed at the Bible’s timeliness to the issues we face today. In verses 8 and 9 Jesus is talking about the Pharisees of that day and says, “8 ” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”” When I read these verses I see Jesus talking to us as modern day believers and a modern day church. We are a society filled with people who like to interpret information to support their own selfish desires. This also applies to our church society where we selfishly interpret the Bible to fit doctrine or rules that make us feel better about ourselves. We need to spend less time worrying about what we think God is trying to tell us and spend more time building a relationship with Him to know what He really wants from us on a personal level.
There is so much great stuff in today’s reading. I want to focus in on an area that always made me wonder because I always found it interesting that Jesus seemed to pick the Sabbath as the day He wanted to push the Pharisee’s buttons. Jesus must have known that healing someone on the Sabbath would annoy them, yet He did it anyway. I think some of the reasons are obvious, like wanting them to focus on what is really important rather than simply following the rules. However, I think one of the main things He wanted to show to them was simply that He is the creator of everything, including the Sabbath. If all they cared about was the Sabbath, then they were missing God’s entire reason for creating us in the first place. How many times do I miss God’s reason for doing something in my life because I simply focus in on the thing He has allowed to happen to me instead of learning to pull myself away from the individual incident and learn to see the big picture and His plan for it all.