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)

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean."

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