I. A chapter of woes
A. Although Jesus was kind and compassionate to everyone who
was honest and
sought the truth, He was universally critical of the Pharisees.
group so opposed Him, and no other group drew His ire like they
B. In Matthew 23, Jesus issues a series of woes upon the Pharisees
for their improper attitudes and actions. It is a blistering
shows us truth sometimes requires saying harsh things.
C. We must examine these passages as well as ourselves to be
sure we are not
guilty of the same things.
II. Hypocrisy (v. 2-4)
A. This is the classic "Do as I say, not as I do"
problem. The Pharisees knew the
law, and much of what they spoke was good. They sat in Moses'
meaning they taught the law (v. 2). However, they did not live
B. It is a hypocritical, heartless teacher who will teach harsh
restrictions and not
try to live them (v. 4).
C. Rom 2:17-24. It is this hypocrisy that causes others to
blaspheme the name of
God. Preachers in the movies are almost always dirty hypocrites.
D. Understanding God's will comes with a difficult but vital
obligation: living it.
III. Working to be seen by men (v. 5-12)
A. All the works here described (v. 5-7) are attempts to make
their righteousness. Phylacteries were tiny boxes containing
Scripture and garment borders were used to count the number of
recited. It is easy to see how such outward signs could be abused
B. Especially titles like "Rabbi," "Teacher"(v.
10), and "Father"(v. 9) could be
abused to show superiority of these teachers to others. "Reverend"
"Doctor" are similarly used today.
C. Matt 6:1-4, 5-7, 16-18. Jesus wants us to do our good works
so God sees, not
men. Sure, others may see, but this is not our motivation.
We would do it
IV. Keeping seekers out of the kingdom (v.
A. Not only were the Pharisees not entering the kingdom, but
others who were attempting to do so. The phrase "shut up"
means to close or lock. Their teaching kept others from reaching
B. Their doctrines were based on their own traditions and self-righteous
hypocrisy, so that when people were converted (v. 15), it didn't
C. Jesus' statement is one of the most damaging a religious
person could hear:
your life and teaching lead others to hell rather than God.
D. More than that, it reveals that the Pharisees' zeal was
for their own cause-not
for God's (John 16:2-3, Rom 10:1-3).
V. Taking advantage of the helpless (v. 14)
A. It is unclear exactly how the Pharisees would "devour
widows' houses," but
the image is clear. Their piety masked evil, corrupt deeds.
B. Specifically, they lacked the love that God commands His
people to have
toward the helpless, seeing them only as a means of gain (James
VI. Legalistic hairsplitting and reasoning
A. The Pharisees judged the same act right or wrong based on
the words spoken
along with it (v. 16). Some say the oath situation in the first
reached the point that one's word could not be trusted without
B. Jesus says very clearly that such distinctions are foolish
and misplaced. He
expects His people to not need oaths to ensure their word is
5:33-37, James 5:12).
VII. Missing the point (v. 23-24)
A. Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for paying attention to tithing
law above justice,
mercy, and faith, which He calls the "weightier matters"(v.
B. He makes it clear that God did not want them to ignore tithing
leaving the others undone", v. 23). Rather, He wanted them
that tithing was less important than understanding God's nature
C. Micah 6:6-8. Is God as pleased with exact fulfillment of
the law as He is with
us being like Him? Can we read a passage like this and think
wants rote obedience to a certain set of commands?
D. Yet the Pharisees demonstrated time and again that they
God's nature. When they did so, Jesus rebuked them with this
passage from Micah (Matt 9:11-13, 12:1-8).
E. When the Pharisees so misunderstood God's nature, it was
as if they were
straining a gnat out of their drink while swallowing a camel!
VIII. Inner corruption (v. 25-28)
A. How often we think outward appearances are the most important
tells us that if we cleanse our inward man, our outward man will
suit (v. 26).
B. The reason is our outward deeds spring from our inward man
Matt 12:33-35). Inner corruption, though unnoticed, is far more
IV. Rejecting God's word and messengers (v.
A. Because they misunderstood God's nature and were consumed
with their own
righteousness, the Pharisees rejected God's Son. They fell in
line with their
ancestors, who persecuted and killed God's prophets (v. 31-32).
B. Acts 7:51-53. How can we escape if we reject God?___Jacob