13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started! 
Jesus pronounces seven “woes” on the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, denouncing their hypocritical and self-serving way.
But how do we respond to this today? What is Jesus saying to us? Is there more to these words than a list of the ways in which the Pharisees’ hypocrisy was manifest to the world?
These seven woes are also windows into the heart of Jesus. Why is Jesus so upset by these things? What does this say to us about what important to Him? Here are some of the things I note in this section (23:13-32):
- Jesus is passionate about the mission of bringing people into the kingdom
- Jesus cares that new converts (and all converts!) are rightly discipled
- Jesus cares that we honor God’s name rightly, worshiping him in sincerity and faith
- Jesus is passionate for our generosity
- Jesus wants us to be focused on pursuing justice, mercy, and faithfulness
- Jesus wants us to be focused on imitating God’s character more than performing acts of piety
- Jesus would have us devote more energy to our character than to the appearance of character
- Jesus wants us to support and encourage other messengers of the kingdom
Jesus is so upset because the Pharisees, the religious leaders, do not share His passion. So my prayer today is that the Holy Spirit continue to shape my heart so that I do indeed share Jesus’ passion, and that my life more and more reflects it.
Lord Jesus, make my heart like yours. Send your Holy Spirit to fill me and lead me to see the world the way you do, to honor the Father the way you do, to be passionate for the Kingdom as you are, and to be shaped more and more into Your image.
What is the Word leading you to pray about today?
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