Jesus lets the Pharisees have it with both barrels.  He rips into them for a whole chapter.  At first glance there’s something in us that says, “Go Jesus!  Somebody needs to tell those Pharisees like it is!”  And Jesus does.  This isn’t your tame, purring kitten Jesus that many a church would like him to be.  In fact, he’s quite fierce.  “You blind fools!” “Woe to you…you hypocrites!” “You blind men!”  “Blind Pharisees!”  It’s surprising they didn’t kill him on the spot.  That is probably more of a miracle than some of the other ones he performed.

Without fear, Jesus exposes one sin after the next.  Woe to you!  Woe to you!  Yet in the same breath there is a call back to repentance, “Clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

But the reality of this text is that it is also personally disturbing.  Let’s be honest with ourselves.   How hard is it to submit and obey leaders who are clearly hypocrites?  Yes, this is what Jesus’ says to do.  Read verse 3.  And how often have we performed some act of ministry and secretly hoped someone would notice?  Um…I’ve done that.  Or what about “call no man ‘Father'”?  I sometimes wonder if a particular denomination has ever read this one.  And then those Pharisees we’re extraordinary missionaries “traveling over land and sea to win a single convert.”  The problem?   They duplicated themselves.  Yikes!  How scary is it to think that those we disciple may take on all our bad traits and magnify them.  Disturbing.

So while part of me is quick to agree with the “Go Jesus!” crowd, I have to face the Pharisaical tendencies within.


Memorized Mt 23:1-15
Dec 19, 2010