August 11

Text: Matthew 23:29-36

 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'  Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers.  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.”   (NASB)

You say, “We would not have made the mistakes of our ancestors—we would not have destroyed God’s spokesmen.  Instead, we would have listened to God’s instruction and obeyed!”  Jesus said, “How dare you justify your behavior!  You are just as destructive to God’s purposes as were your ancestors!  Just like your ancestors, you respond to God’s message with violence because it is not what you wish to hear!  As a result, you are a hidden ambush, an unexpected death, a disaster to others!  You will not and cannot escape the horrible consequences that your unjust behavior will bring upon you.”

When Jesus said they would respond to their opportunity to hear God’s message with killing, crucifixion, scourging, and persecution, we cannot help but think of Jesus in Matthew 27:31, or the apostles in Acts 5:40, or Stephen in Acts 7:60, or Saul’s actions in Acts 8:3 and intent in Acts 9:1, 2.

One of the sobering things in this woe was that the scribes and Pharisees were held accountable for continuing the past’s rejection of God.  Because they failed to be righteous, they were the lineage of unrighteousness.  Honoring the righteous with monuments did not hide unrighteous living and motives.

Suggestion for reflection: Is your life a continuation of God’s righteousness or of Satan’s unrighteousness?  (Read Romans 2:18-23.)

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