Blinded to God’s Truth

A farmer went each week to the Farmers’ Market to sell, among other things, cottage cheese and apple butter made on his farm. He carried these in two large tubs, from which he ladled the cottage cheese or apple butter into smaller containers the customers brought. One day he got … More

Cleanliness

Jesus had great sorrow for the Pharisees because they were blinded to God’s truth and their sins. In today’s and tomorrow’s passage we see eight woes that we might contrast to the eight beatitudes in (Matt. 5:1-12). The beatitudes described true righteousness and here He describes false righteousness.

They not only kept themselves out of the kingdom but stood in the way of others by their man-made traditions instead of God’s truth (v. 13) (Luke 11:52). Eight times in this chapter Jesus pronounces “woes” upon those He calls “hypocrites” and “fools” and “blind” and “serpents.” When love speaks harshly, it does so because no other language has a chance of breaking through. The Pharisees were making long prayers to impress people while taking from the widows whom they should help (v. 14). The woe describes how the Pharisees traveled over land and sea to win others to their legalistic system yet could not introduce people to the true and living God (v. 15). How tragic!!

We find blind guides who say that it is binding to swear by the gold in the temple but it means nothing (v. 16). Jesus calls them blind fools and asks them which is greater, the gold or the Temple that makes the gold (v. 17). The people say that an oath taken by the altar can be broken but to swear by the gifts on the altar is binding (vv. 18-20). When you swear by the temple you are swearing by it and the God who lives in it (v. 21). When you swear by heaven, you are swearing by the throne and God who sits on the throne (v. 22). Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites who tithe but leave off the important things (v. 23). Jesus tell these teachers of the law how terrible it will be for them because they are careful to clean the outside but are filthy on the inside (vv. 24-26).

Application

Have I given too much attention to minor details while neglecting the essential and more important ones in my Christian life? Am I giving too much thought to the outward while neglecting giving the needed cleansing to my inward heart (Proverbs 4:23)?

Matthew 23:13-26 (English Standard Version)


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