Wednesday 10 September, 2014

Matthew 23:29-39

29 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You build tombs for the prophets. You decorate the graves of the godly. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of those who lived before us, we wouldn’t have done what they did. We wouldn’t have helped to kill the prophets.’ 31 So you give witness against yourselves. You admit that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets. 32 So finish the sins that those who lived before you started! 33 “You nest of poisonous snakes! How will you escape from being sentenced to hell? 34 So I am sending you prophets, wise men, and teachers. You will kill some of them. You will nail some to a cross. Others you will whip in your synagogues. You will chase them from town to town. 35 “So you will pay for all the godly people’s blood spilled on earth. I mean from the blood of godly Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berekiah. Zechariah was the one you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 What I’m about to tell you is true. All this will happen to those who are now living. 37 “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and throw stones in order to kill those who are sent to you. Many times I have wanted to gather your people together. I have wanted to be like a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings. But you would not let me! 38 Look, your house is left empty. 39 I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Psalm 118:26)

Jesus begins the chapter with a warning to be wise about how the teachers of the law act, pretending to be righteous but with evil in their hearts, and to be discerning about whom we choose to copy. He goes on to a remarkably direct word of judgement directed to the teachers of the law.

I’m comfortable with being wise and discerning. Teachers (probably including bloggers) need to be doubly careful how they act because the error or sin affects not only the teacher but also anyone who listens (James 3:1). I need to be very careful how I act, especially if I speak on God’s behalf.

So many people have been damaged by judgemental words from Christians. Should I be speaking words of judgement like Jesus?

In Luke 6:37 Jesus says “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” My heart towards others needs to be the same as God’s heart to me: to bring grace and forgiveness.

In John 5:30 he makes it clear “I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me.” And this word of judgment is clearly prophetic about their intentions towards Jesus and towards those who testify about Jesus. No words of Judgment except with God’s clear direction.

And in John 9:39 “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” So this role in judgment is given to Jesus, but not to me (for which I’m grateful). And certainly not to these teachers who judge Jesus and God’s prophets.

Lord, let your words be my words and your heart my heart. And give me the wisdom to leave your role to you, and to take whatever role you give me.

Written by David Cornell

3 replies
  1. Justin Ware says:

    My first reaction to Jesus rebuking pharisees is always “Yeah, Jesus! Tell it to those dodgy, religious fools!”

    But when I reflect a bit deeper, I get reminded that I have a part of me that is Pharisaical. Part of me wants to set up processes and rules that are meant to be helpful, but actuality take away from what God intends!

  2. Richard says:

    Our capacity for self deception is powerful. The Pharisees were so convinced they were correct, so convinced they were righteous they would project backward the essence of the righteousness. Looking back is so easy, especially to make ourselves look good, telling others how we would have dealt with the situation.

    Being right is not being righteous. Being right may lead to righteousness or pride! – the difference being our state of heart and mind.

    I need to continually hold to the truth in a manner where I do not apply it in ways for self aggrandisement but with humility draws out obedience.

    Father help me to live on humility in what and how I live my beliefs.

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