Matthew 23

Today’s reading is Matthew 23. This chapter is Jesus last address to the Pharisees. He had responded to all of their questions  and he took this opportunity to expose their corruption, hypocrisy, and rebellion against God to the disciples and the multitudes. In the beginning of the chapter Jesus did give the Pharisees credit for knowing the scriptures but that is the only positive thing he had to say about them. Beyond accepting their knowledge of the scriptures, Jesus advised the people not to follow their example in anything. The Pharisees were more concerned about their outward appearance and keeping the law then loving those around them. They followed the letter of the law while ignoring its true intent. All the while, they hated Jesus because He challenged their proud attitudes and dishonorable motives.  He didn’t follow all of their rules and traditions. He was not what they were expecting. They tried many times to get Jesus to stumble with their questions but it was futile. Jesus was the only one that could truly stand up to them and their hypocrisy.

The Pharisees needed a savior but they rejected Him. They were so stuck in their way of thinking and their position that they didn’t see Jesus for who He was (and is). Even though they knew the scriptures and all the prophecy they still rejected Him and ultimately had him crucified. Jesus knew this would happen and it was his opportunity to share with the multitudes that there was a problem. The Pharisees were not the ones to follow because they were sinful and missing the point all together. The point was that Jesus was the Messiah and was in their presence!

There are still “Pharisees” among us today. People that are so tied to the rules and traditions that they forget to care for the heart of those in their midst. Sometimes, I am that person. I can be hypocritical, judgmental, overly concerned about outward appearances, and a blind guide to those around me. I am sinful. We are all sinful. The good news is that Jesus knows this about each of us. He came into the world to save us from our sin and not to condemn us. And He doesn’t want us to stay in our sin. He accepts and loves us as sinners, but wants us to change to be more like Him as we mature in a relationship with Him. He is the ultimate change maker. The Pharisees in the Bible were already long gone but there is hope for us!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him.