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Crossing the Line, part 2
Verse 28 of Matthew chapter 23 says, “… on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” That is a word that can easily apply to any of us at any time. We don’t have to be Pharisees to have this apply to us. Appearing righteous while having all kinds of unrighteousness in our lives is all too common.
Now we come to the final woe. Matthew 23:29-31 “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 forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’” They would build tombs for the prophets that had been slain. They did this supposedly from adoration and respect for their character.
This is often done in the East and elsewhere. Among the Muslims building a tomb is a common way of showing respect for any distinguished person. By doing this, they profess respect for his character and reverence for his memory. So the Pharisees, by building tombs in this manner, professed that they approved of the character and conduct of the prophets, and disapproved of the conduct of their fathers in killing them.
However, our Lord showed them it was all mere pretense. By their acts of building and beautifying the tombs of murdered prophets, they supposed they were disavowing those murders. But Jesus stated that their acts proved the very opposite. Matthew 23:31 “So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.” By building the tombs, they merely completed what their fathers had begun.
Their own plotting to murder Jesus proved them to be true sons of them that slew the prophets. Matthew 21:46“They looked for a way to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that He was a prophet. This was part of their plot to kill Jesus. Matthew 22:15“Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap Him in His Words.” If they could just trap Him with His own words then they would have been justified in arresting Him and ultimately killing Him.
Jesus pointed out all these hypocrisies to show everyone around them that they were just as guilty of the sins of their fathers, as their fathers were, and that they were no different than the ones they were trying to distance themselves from. John the Baptist was a case in point: he was the latest prophet to be killed and he was not killed by their fathers but by their contemporaries.
Matthew 23:32 “Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!” This is a prediction of what they were about to do. He challenged them act out their true spirit, and show what they were, and demonstrate to all that they had the spirit of their fathers even though they were trying to disavow any association with those who killed the prophets.
What an emotional moment in the earthly life of Christ. He is standing in front of those who will ultimately crucify him saying, “I challenge you to do it now! Let everyone see that you are nothing more than white washed tombs, full of dead men’s bones. You profess righteousness but are full of hypocrisy, envy, pride, lust, and malice. You do everything you can to keep people from seeing their Messiah.”
Matthew 23:33-35 “You snakes!You brood of vipers!How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify;others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth…” Once again Jesus tells them they are on their way to hell because they proclaim to be righteous while living in sin.Then He prophesies about His own disciples telling them that they will go out as prophets and wise men and teachers and they some of them will be killed, others will be flogged and tortured.
Just to show you some of the emotion in Christ’s voice – He knew what no other man knew at that time about the plight of his disciples...
Medication: A Merry Heart
A juggler, driving to his next performance, is stopped by a policeman. “What are those machetes doing in your car?” asks the cop.
“I juggle them in my act.”
“Oh, yeah?” says the doubtful cop. “Let’s see you do it.”
The juggler gets out and starts tossing and catching the knives. Another man driving by slows down to watch.
"Wow" says the passerby. “I’m glad I quit drinking. Look at the test they're giving now!”
God Bless, Press On!
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Isaiah 26:3 CSB
Today’s readings: 1 Kings 8 & 2 Chronicles 5