Tuesday, July 24, 2007



Matthew 23:13-15

13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore, you will receive greater condemnation.

15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves."

Here Jesus directs a series of seven woes against the Scribes and Pharisees. Each one begins with "Woe to you!" The word connotes anger and sorrow. The word hypocrite occurs here several times. In the Greek, the word 'hupokrites' had to do with a dialogue on stage, which described an actor. Later, the word had a negative connotation which meant a pretender, one who acts a part, one who wears a mask to cover his true feelings, one who puts on an external show while inwardly his thoughts and feelings are very different. To Jesus the Scribes and Pharisees were men who were acting a part.

Their whole idea of religion consisted in outward observances, the wearing of elaborate phylacteries and tassels, the meticulous observance of the rules and regulations of the Law. But in their hearts there was bitterness and envy and pride and arrogance. To Jesus these Scribes and Pharisees were men who, under a mask of elaborate godliness, concealed hearts in which the most godless feelings and emotions held sway.

There is even an earlier understanding of 'hupokrites' and that is to by hyper-critical. This is precisely what these religious leaders were all about. When people tried to find entry into the Kingdom the Pharisees presented them with these hypercritical rules and regulations, which was as good as shutting the door in their faces.

Jesus accused these Pharisees of being missionaries of evil. The sin of the Pharisees was that they were not really seeking to lead men to God, they were seeking to lead them to Pharisaism. This is the same as being more concerned about getting people into church rather than being into a personal relationship with God.

The greatest of all heresies is the sinful conviction that any Church or people has a monopoly on God or of His truth, or that any Church is the only gateway to God's Kingdom. We must come to grips with the fact that Christianity doesn't own Jesus! Jesus is God's Messiah to the entire world-to every culture and to every people group.

ONE MORE THING: Jesus says the person who travels the earth to proselytize and convert others to become just like them in all of their hypocritical mode are worthy of hell. Now, remember this has nothing to do with some location of a burning fire later. He is saying that people like this who do these things are worthy of being thrown on the burning trash heap of Gehenna. Gehenna or the Valley of Hinnom is translated as hell. They have proven to be worthless trash.

All God is looking for is a person who is interested and leaning in with a heart bent toward God. This genuine hearted person has no need to proselytize the world or to make people act like him. BUT, he has the desire to be and do all that Jesus has said to be and to do. And, that in itself is contagious. Jesus uses this authenticity to spread around the world like a virus. It's a genuine movement of followers of Jesus!