Jesus accuses the *Pharisees and Scribes

The Life of Jesus Christ - Chapter 9 - Jesus' last week in Jerusalem - Part 10

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Matthew 23

(The Scribes were officials in the *temple.) Jesus now spoke for the last time in public. He had more to say to his *disciples in private, but he now left the *temple for the last time. Jesus was very patient with those who disagreed with him. He listened to all their questions although they tried to make him give wrong answers. He understood what their questions meant. He answered them perfectly. He was humble and patient. Many people must have admired this. But the time had now come when Jesus would speak out clearly. It was very important that the crowds of people understood Jesus.

The *Pharisees and Scribes seemed to behave well. They prayed often in public. They gave away a 10th part of what they had. They even gave away a 10th of all kinds of small vegetables. They knew and could repeat much of the Law. Many people thought that these men were ‘very holy’. But their behaviour was in fact the opposite of all that Jesus taught. Jesus had to make people understand this.

Jesus said that the *Pharisees taught many good things. They taught God's law. But the important thing was to obey it. Jesus called the *Pharisees ‘graves that men have painted white’. They looked good and holy on the outside. In fact, their lives were selfish and greedy. They showed this by the way that they behaved with Jesus. They wanted people to praise them. They wanted to have the best seats at meetings. ‘Do the things that they teach’, Jesus said, ‘But do not do the things that they do’.

Some things were not important. But the *Pharisees said that these things were important. For example, they said that it was important to give away a 10th of some plants. They did not think much about how people behaved to one another. They did not think about being kind or fair to other people. They did not like what Jesus taught. This stopped some people from trusting Jesus. Jesus spoke out about the *Pharisees and the Scribes very strongly.

Matthew 23:33 ‘You are like snakes! You are like a collection of dangerous snakes! You will not escape God’s punishment in *hell.’

It is easy to copy the *Pharisees’ mistake. It is sad that people have done this in the church for many years. Christ left us a very different example. He was humble. He served other people all the time. He liked to be with people who did not seem to be important. He gave them hope. We are not holy if we only know the Bible. We must do what it says. It should not matter what other people think about us. For the *Pharisees what other people thought was very important. That was why they behaved in certain ways. Especially, they wanted the people to praise them.

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said something that is very important. (This was when Jesus taught people on a mountain. See Matthew chapters 5-7) He said that one day people would come to him. They would say that they had done great things in his name. But Jesus would send them away.

Matthew 7:21-23 ‘Not everyone who says to me, “*Lord, *Lord”, will go into the *kingdom of heaven. Some people do what God wants. Those people will go in. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, *Lord, did we not speak on your behalf? Did we not send away *demons on your behalf, and do many *miracles”? Then I will tell them, “I never knew you. Go away, you wicked people!” ’

God accepts us only because of Christ. We do and think wrong things. Jesus died to take the punishment for those wrong things. Because of this, God can forgive us, if we trust in Jesus. Nothing else can help us. Nothing that we can do will help us. The important thing is to know Christ personally. Then we will obey him. ‘If you love me, obey what I say’, Jesus told his *disciples many times.


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