Warnings to the
Multitudes and Disciples (23:1-12)
Lament over Jerusalem (23:37-39)
They say, and do
not do, servant, woe, kingdom of heaven, hypocrites, blind guides,
condemnation, son of hell, fools and blind.
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
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
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