32: Woes on the Scribes and Pharisees (Mt
We are now
coming to the end of Jesus’ public ministry. Having silenced the Pharisees,
scribes, and Sadducees, the Lord launched a series of rebukes against them with
the most severe condemnations. This was to be expected because it was the
religious elite who had been the strongest opposition to the message of the
kingdom. The Lord’s rebukes also served as sobering warning to the disciples
and multitudes against the deception of false piety.
“Even so you also outwardly
appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness”
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the
one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I
wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her
wings, but you were not willing!” (23:37).
Did You Know…?
“Phylacteries” (v.5) were small
leather or parchment boxes containing a piece of vellum inscribed with four
texts from the law (Exod 13:2-10, 11-16; Deut 6:4-9;
11:13-21). They were worn on the arm or tied to the forehead according to
Exodus 13:9,16; Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18 (though
originally these passages were probably metaphorical). 6/474
Rabbi: (v. 7), the
transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “my master” or “my teacher”…By
Talmudic times a rabbi’s status was immense: his disciple had to obey him
without question, never walk beside or in front of him, never greet him first,
and so forth…. 6/474
Proselyte (23:15): Pharisees
and teachers of the law would travel extensively to make one “proselyte”—a word
used in the NT only here and in Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43 and one that at this time
probably refers to those who have been circumcised and have pledged to submit
to the full rigors of Jewish law, including the oral tradition for which the
Pharisees were so zealous. 6/478-479
Mint, Anise and Cummin (23:23) are common garden herbs.
Strain out (23:24): The strict
Pharisee would carefully strain his drinking water through a cloth to be sure
he did not swallow a gnat, the smallest of unclean animals. But, figuratively,
he would swallow a camel—one of the largest. 8/1474
Whitewashed tombs (23:27): A
person who stepped on a grave became ceremonially unclean (see Nu 19:16), so graves were whitewashed to make them easily visible,
especially at night. 8/1474
“From the blood of righteous
Abel unto the blood of Zacharias” (23:35). Jesus here
is including all such murders of Old Testament times by citing the first
recorded in Scripture, that of Abel (Gen 4:8), and the last, that of Zacharias (2Chron. 24:20-22). (In the Hebrew canon 2
Chronicles is the last book to be listed.) 2/90-91
1. What does it mean that “the scribes and Pharisees
sit in Moses’ seat”?
2. What is an example that illustrates the point
3. What is wrong with being called “rabbi,”
“father” or “teacher”?
4. According to the context, what does it mean to
humble ourselves (12)?
5a. List briefly
the 7 charges that the Lord brought against the scribes and Pharisees.
5b. How do you justify the Lord’s strong charges?
6a. How have the scribes and Pharisees shut up the kingdom of
heaven against men (13)?
6b. Today, are there people who teach the Bible but actually
shut up the kingdom of heaven? Cite an example.
7a. What hypocrisy did the Lord expose in 16-22?
7b. In what ways do we sometimes reverse our priorities in our
worship and Christian living?
8a. Why are
justice, mercy, and faith “weightier,” and why were they neglected?
8b. Was Jesus
doing away with the keeping of the law?
9. Why do people, including the scribes and
Pharisees, “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel”?
10. What did the
Lord mean by “serpents and brood of vipers” (33)?
11. Why did
these people kill and persecute God’s messengers?
12. How does the
analogy of the hen gathering her chicks apply to God and His people?
13. When will
the people say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”?