August 4

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.Ē  (NASB)

What outraged Jesus in this and following woes was the price others paid for the scribes and Phariseesí role-playing.  Jesusí presentation of Godís kingdom earnestly sought to teach and illustrate by parable Godís concept and intents for His kingdom.  Jesus made people consider things they had not considered.

Jesusí kingdom focus and the scribes and Phariseesí kingdom focus distinctly differed.  They agreed on many thingsóAbraham was the beginning of the Jewish people; Isaac was Godís child of promise; Jacobís 12 sons were the origin of the nation of Israelís 12 tribes; and the nationís origin was made possible by acts of God.  They all had lots of common ground!

However, Jesus disagreed with the scribes and Pharisees on an extremely key issue.  Jesus declared Godís interest was universal (see Genesis 12:3; 1 Kings 8:41-43; Isaiah 49:6; Matthew 8:11, 12).  The scribes and Pharisees stressed the nation of Israel (the Jewish people) was Godís ultimate, principle concern.  The scribes and Pharisees were convinced that Jesusí declaration of a universal divine concern  misrepresented  Godís kingdom intentóphysical Israel, not world salvation, was Godís kingdom focus.

The result of this disagreement was horrible!  Not only did the scribes and Pharisees reject Jesus and his teachings for themselves, but they caused all who followed them to reject Jesus and his teachings.  The scribes and Pharisees actively opposed Godís intents in His kingdom.  They rejected the kingdom for themselves and closed the kingdom to others.

To blind ourselves to Godís work is bad.  However, to deliberately blind others to Godís work is worse!

Suggestion for reflection:  How serious is representing Godís intents?  (Read Romans 2:17-29.)

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