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Coria Brock

November 11, 2023

Matthew 23:13, English Standard Version

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”

Many of the words that Jesus spoke while He was on earth were about events that were taking place in the world at that time. But what He shared can also be applied to the present time as well. When we consider what Jesus said in today’s scripture, what can we learn? If you understand who He is referring to when He refers to the scribes and Pharisees then you can see that what He would say today might be something like this, “But woe to you, who hold to your religious righteousness, you hypocrites!”


What does religious righteousness mean?


“…for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:3-4, NIV)


“Everything they do is done for people to see… they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats … they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces…” (Matthew 23:5-7, NIV)


“…you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye…” (Matthew 7:3-6, NIV)


“These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me…” (Mark 7:6, ESV)


“…For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness…” (Matthew 23:23, ESV)


“…For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” (Matthew 23:13, ESV)


The day came, Jesus said to them, “…I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23, ESV)


No man has the right to judge those who Jesus identified as hypocrites. However, He is revealing His views and His heart for us and desires us to heed His word. He desires that no one will perish, but that all will be saved. So, if we care about what Jesus wants and cares for, we will pay attention and make the effort required to follow in His ways. It is not a simple one plus one formula, grace and justice, love and truth… It is a serious and deep lesson. It can only be understood through the wisdom of God. It is not a subject we can understand through the logic and knowledge of mankind. Therefore, I leave these two instructions to you in this matter:


“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10, NIV)


“…whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10, ESV)

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