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Lesson 32
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Lesson 32

I.       Observation

A.     Outline

Warnings to the Multitudes and Disciples (23:1-12)

Seven Woes (23:13-36)

Lament over Jerusalem (23:37-39)

B.     Key Words/Phrases

They say, and do not do, servant, woe, kingdom of heaven, hypocrites, blind guides, condemnation, son of hell, fools and blind.

II.    Segment Analysis

1. To sit in someone’s seat means being a successor to the person. The scribes and Pharisees assumed Moses’ authority in teaching the law to the people.

2. In John 9, the Pharisees showed no concern for the man who was healed. By forbidding healing on the Sabbath, they cared only about their authority rather than those in need. They made the Sabbath a burden by adding many regulations. Although these regulations had become a great burden, the Pharisees did not care to show any compassion or mercy (see Mt 23:23).

3. In wanting to exalt himself, a person who accepts these titles would want to maintain an image of righteousness. Such intention quickly turns into hypocrisy. Not only so, the desire of honor and men’s praise makes a person eager for self-interest rather than obeying God. The religious leaders always opposed Jesus and God’s will because their concern was their position in society and not their position in God’s kingdom.

4. To be humble is not just declining the title of teacher. It has to do with our hearts. Humility means acknowledging God as the only one who is worthy of our honor (8,9). With this basic understanding and attitude, we would not expect praise and exaltation from men. We would also be willing to deny ourselves and serve others (11).

5a. 1) Shutting up the kingdom of heaven. 2) Devouring widows’ houses and for a pretense making long prayers. 3) Winning converts but making them twice as much sons of hell. 4) Nullifying the binding effect of oaths. 5) Neglecting the most important aspects of the law. 6) Appearing righteous but full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 7) Shedding the blood of righteous men.

5b. Hypocrisy is perhaps most hideous in that those who commit it do not even feel that their deeds are evil. They have become blind and their conscience dulled. Not only so, they mislead many with their appearance of piety and stop them from entering God’s kingdom. The Lord’s strong charges serve to warn us about the severe punishment that would come on anyone who lives in hypocrisy.

6a. They refuse to accept Christ and forbid others to do so (Jn 9:22).

6b. Preachers of another gospel (Gal 1:6-9).

7a. The scribes and Pharisees taught the people that if someone swears by the temple but not the gold of the temple, or by the altar but not the gift on the altar, his oath would not be binding. Such teaching provided a way for people to lie while swearing. The deceitful heart behind the act of swearing is actually a disrespect for and mockery on God.

7b. Sometimes we may stress more on monetary donations or acts of service (just like the gold of the temple or the gifts on the altar) than on sincere love and obedience to God.

8a. The purpose of God’s commands is so that we may have the heart and qualities of God. Superficial observance without a change of heart is meaningless. But the Pharisees and scribes neglected these more important aspects because matters such as justice, mercy, and faith, are not immediately visible to men, whereas acts such as offering could easily win them praise and respect.

8b. The Lord was emphasizing the spirit of the law, but he did not do away with the actions required by the law. So he said, “these you ought to have done without leaving the others undone.” “The others” refer to the actions of keeping the law. In verse 3, he also commanded the people to do what the scribes and Pharisees taught according to the Scriptures.

9. People often pay attention to trivial matters without addressing more important or larger issues. E.g. washing hands before eating but unclean in thoughts; debating the details of how a chapel should be renovated but neglecting harmony and love.

10. Their very nature was evil, cunning, and dangerous.

11. The words and deeds of the righteous ones contradicted, revealed, and even condemned these evil-doers’ wickedness.

12. Time and again God called out to His rebellious children to return to Him. He sent them prophets, wise men, and teachers to restore their faith. But the people were hard-hearted and did not heed His call.

13. When they realize that Jesus is the Christ and come to repentance (Zech 12:10; Rom 11:25-27).

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