Published on
October 17, 2023

Matthew 23

“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous...”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Matthew 23
“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn’t have taken part with them in shedding the prophet’s blood.’ You, therefore, testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ sins!!” Matthew 23:29-32

When I was a teenager, I had a list of things I would never say when I grew up and had children of my own. Guess what? I say MANY those phrases to my kids, and they’ll probably say them to their kids! Like it or not, we are products of our upbringing.

The Pharisees and Sadducees had commendable zeal. They were willing to suffer for what they believed. The problem was that they were sincerely wrong in certain crucial theological conclusions, mainly in that they did not recognize Jesus as Messiah.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day loved to work for the Lord, but their works were ultimately deemed ineffective for the Kingdom because they had been taught attitudes & opinions that were contra to God’s heart. When the foundation is flawed, the structure built upon it is jeopardized. Israel’s spiritual leaders had mostly traded the solid foundation of the TANAKH (Old Testament) for the unsteady foundation of the rabbinical opinions & judgments concerning the Old Testament. The practice of learning rabbinical tradition had largely replaced personally seeking God’s revelation, His Word.

Religious leaders became so consumed with the “How” that they lost the “WHO.” Forms of worship overshadowed the object of worship, the Lord.

What’s worse, these leaders believed they had evolved beyond the righteousness of their fathers, who had rejected the prophets. Jesus gave a simple exhortation: Like Father, like son.

To that end, they remind me of some church leaders in our generation. Indeed, some preachers believe today’s society has evolved beyond the Bible. They scoff at conservative believers who suggest that we should take the Bible literally regarding various issues like homosexuality, church leadership paradigms, and abortion. In doing so, they elevate their opinions above those of Moses, the Apostle Paul, or even Jesus!

We mustn’t accuse our fathers without recognizing we have inherited many of their well-intended, yet sinful, attitudes about God. The only way to break sin patterns is to humble ourselves, repent, and ask God to reveal the truth of His WORD to us. We must then commit ourselves to living within that truth, even when uncomfortable or unpopular.

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