August 3

Text: Matthew 23:13

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”  (NASB)

Before we begin to focus on the condemnations Jesus gave, we need to focus on some words Jesus used.  Over the centuries these words have changed meanings or changed in basic emphases. 

For example, consider the word “hypocrite.”  Today, it is such a derogatory word it is almost an insult.  A few centuries ago, its emphasis was so negative that it was viewed as a horrible insult.  When Jesus used the word, it did not have this horrible negative force.  Jesus was not using a word considered an insult!

The word was used to refer to actors who played a role in a performance.  Jesus was giving a religious indictment.  Their religion was not about expressing devotion to God.  Their religious acts were role- playing.  Those roles were performances, not commitments to God.  They merely were acting as they were expected to act in their society.

The word “woe” did not say, “Now you are going to receive what you deserve!”  It was not a harsh threat or the promise of horrible suffering.  It was a mixture of concepts that one English word cannot express.  It mixed, “Your behavior results in bad consequences,” with, “I regret your coming suffering.”

If here your image of Jesus is that of a gloating man with a defiant fist in the air, you need to adjust your image.  His death for sinners included the needs of scribes and Pharisees.  He was not saying, “You may kill me, but you will get yours!”  Instead, he said, “It is unnecessarily tragic for you to be so mistaken!”

For any person to reject God’s redemption and sanctification in Christ is unnecessary and tragic.

Suggestion for reflection: Does God find joy in His loss of people to sin?  (Read Romans 7:24-8:4.)

David's Home Page Previous Day Index Next Day

 Copyright 2011 David Chadwell