~ Warning to Religious Leaders ~
There are at least three great warning chapters in Scripture. Interesting enough they all are double digit chapters ending in three (making it easy to memorize them (Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 33, and Matthew 23). In this post we are summarizing the last of these three chapters.
Matthew 23 Summary ~ This chapter follows the clash between our Lord and the religious leaders of the day. (1) Pharisees were the most prevalent of the religious leaders and were legalistic to the extreme and were known for their self-righteousness and hypocrisy. (2) Scribes were those who meticulously made copies of the Holy Scriptures—so they knew the text well and were therefore considered authorities. The words of our Lord to these religious leaders are the strongest denunciation that He ever made of anyone or any group! Keep in mind that Jesus Christ was the perfect embodiment of what a spiritual person should be—and He loathed religious pretense.
It is important to keep the context of this chapter in mind. On Monday of this week Jesus had cleansed the Temple. At that point He left the Temple and would never again enter it! This ended His public ministry. He would hang on the Cross of Calvary just three days later.
Matthew 23 Scripture Portions ~ “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do’” (verses 1-3).
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Multiple times in the chapter). “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (verses 37-39).
Matthew 23 and Today ~ Religious form without substance is alive and thriving today—as it has been throughout Church history. Is it time for your personal self-examination?
closing note: The warnings of Matthew 23 are well worth personal study by each of my readers. A careful and thoughtful reading will cause conviction to any serious believer.
~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW
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