In Matthew 23, we find that the last public sermon Jesus preached was not a message regarding salvation and invitation. By contrast, He spoke of condemnation and denunciation against the religious hierarchy of the day. Jesus didn’t hold back, calling the Pharisees names like “fools” and “blind guides,” while powerfully pointing out their brand of hypocrisy. These authoritative teachers of their day failed to follow their own precepts.
Jesus’ last sermon was in stark contrast to His first. His earthly ministry began by pronouncing eight blessings that came in the form of the Beatitudes. Each of these stand as a measure in stark contrast to what Jesus saw in the Pharisees.
Looking at the various attitudes over the next few days, we see there is a clear right vs wrong and there’s little room for question regarding which attitude we are to have.
- Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 (KJV)
Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. Matthew 23:16–22 (KJV)
*Blessed are those who want for integrity, truth, and simplicity. The Pharisees weren’t hungering after righteousness; they desperately wanted power and control, manipulating the Word to fit their modes of operation. We, as the people of God, must hunger and thirst after righteousness. We cannot have revival while we hunger after our own will.
- Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7 (KJV)
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Matthew 23:23, 24 (KJV)
*According to Leviticus 11, the largest unclean animal was a camel and the smallest was a gnat. Jesus said the Pharisees picked gnats out of their soup but missed the big camel swimming around. They had everything in order and the details down to the smallest one. They even tithed on their seeds of cumin (can you imagine counting those out to get to a tenth?) but missed the much larger, more important issues. What about the issues of love, mercy, and righteousness? They didn’t hunger after those. If you want to obtain mercy, love, and righteousness, then you must extend them.
to be continued…