This appears to be the third and final chapter explaining and critiquing the Pharisees and Jesus wrath on them.
It’s interesting because after spending the past two chapters criticizing the Pharisees and their many problems, in the first part of this chapter Jesus strikes a different kind of tone. He had been telling the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and He had been comparing them to disobedient sons, wicked men who lease a vineyard, subjects of a king who refuse to obey the king, and more. Now however, Jesus instructs His disciples differently. “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” So even though the Pharisees have been evil in so many different ways, the disciples are still to have obedience towards them (to some extent). They have been placed in a place of leadership. The disciples are still to observe them and obey them, but they are to disregard their actions and life application. That’s kind of a surprising thing to hear from Jesus after so much lambasting. However, it does parallel Old Testament commands to obey the leaders of the people, but that we should obey God / YHWH over them.
Jesus then continues on to speak eight woe’s to the scribes and Pharisees (hypocrites): Woe to you…
- … you prevent others from entering the kingdom of heaven, and you refuse to enter yourself.
- …”you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers“
- … you travel all over to make one disciple and make them twice the son of Satan as you are.
- … you make a big deal about the treasures of the temple and the sacrifices (that give them wealth), and you disregard the purpose and reason for it.
- … you focus on the minuscule details of the law, but you ignore the major points like justice, mercy, & faithfulness.
- … you clean and make pretty the outside of the cup, but you ignore what is important inside.
- … (directly related) you appear / act righteously, but you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
- … you build the tombs of the prophets and honor them saying, “If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.“, but you are going to do exactly as you say you would not do!
There is such a contrast here! Christ says to follow the law and the leaders of the law, yet in the very next breath He is condemning the very same people! I don’t know how well most American’s in today’s world can understand and relate to this principle. Too often we feel that if the leader is unjust we should not have listen to them or to do what they say. That somehow the leader’s obedience / disobedience to the law or even our own expectations some how precludes our loyalty or obedience. That does not fit with what Christ is saying here.
What do you think?
John J. Camiolo Jr.
This is one of those things that i find so awesome about the Bible and the scriptures. How even the little things mean a whole lot. And, how everything seems to just come together. It becomes clear that God is a step ahead of man and his work… or hundreds, even thousands of years ahead. In this chapter we see AT LEAST four different prophecies being fulfilled in those first years of His life.
What’s even more interesting to me is that of these four prophecies, three of them seem to be contradictory of one another. The first one states that from Bethlehem of Judah will come forth the ruler (Messiah). Thus Jesus, the Christ, is born in Bethlehem. The second says that “Out of Egypt I called My Son”. So the Messiah is to come out of Egypt… wasn’t He supposed to come out of Bethlehem of Judah, not Egypt? Yet here He is, the Messiah coming out of Egypt as well. Then there’s the prophecy that, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” He shall be called a Nazarene because He came out of Nazareth. So now we have three different conflicting prophecies being fulfilled by the same child.
This is what i love about the scriptures. In what seems like an insurmountable conflict and opposing ideas, there is a smooth and elegant solution that surpasses and bypasses our lack of understanding. Prior to understanding how all of this comes together in the end, these three passages could almost seem impossible to reconcile together. Yet God / YHWH brought it all together. That brings us back to the conflict mentioned in chapter 1’s post. The conflict seems almost insurmountable with no real answer in sight, and it may remain that way through your entire life. Yet, as we can see from this chapter; what seems impossible to man, is more than possible with God / YHWH.
I have answers to the conflict of Chapter 1, but i will not give them at this time. Faith, Hope, and Love abide. In this conflict, pursue those things.
Rev. John Camiolo
It seems like God’s blessing of His people more often than not leads to contention rather than pursuit. Isaac goes and lives in the land of the Philistines due to a famine in the land of Canaan. He and all his household. While he is there God blesses him. His crops grow a hundredfold. God continues to bless him in many other ways as well.
You would think that with God blessing Isaac as he does, Abimelech the king of the Philistines would pursue Isaac and the God of Isaac. You would think that they would want to be connected to the God and man of God who blesses in such ways. Instead they fear him. Instead, they send him away.
This leads to contention between Abimelech and Isaac’s herdsmen. Trouble that could lead to war between the two, what Abimelech feared. But, Isaac was not interested in stirring up trouble. He was a peacekeeper who turned away from the conflict. As a result Abimelech did pursue Isaac, but not for the right reasons. He pursued a peace covenant with Isaac, not to know more the God that blessed his people so. As a result, he got his peace treaty / covenant, but it will come at the cost of the nation later on.
It’s also interesting to note that Isaac pursued as well. He went in pursuit of more wives. He got what he was pursuing, but at the cost of peace for himself and his household.