God’s Faithful Word of Wisdom
Matthew 23:13-28: Today’s reading continues describing Jesus’ conflict with his opponents. He accuses the religious leaders of being hypocrites and condemns their behavior.
Today's Scripture: Matthew 23:22
When someone swears by heaven, he is swearing by God’s throne and by him who sits on it.
Jesus Condemns Their Hypocrisy
(Mark 12.40; Luke 11.39-42,44,52; 20.47)
13“How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You lock the door to the Kingdom of heaven in people's faces, but you yourselves don't go in, nor do you allow in those who are trying to enter!
15“How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert; and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are!
16“How terrible for you, blind guides! You teach, ‘If someone swears by the Temple, he isn't bound by his vow; but if he swears by the gold in the Temple, he is bound.’17Blind fools! Which is more important, the gold or the Temple which makes the gold holy?18You also teach, ‘If someone swears by the altar, he isn't bound by his vow; but if he swears by the gift on the altar, he is bound.’19How blind you are! Which is the more important, the gift or the altar which makes the gift holy?20So then, when a person swears by the altar, he is swearing by it and by all the gifts on it;21and when he swears by the Temple, he is swearing by it and by God, who lives there;22 and when someone swears by heaven, he is swearing by God's throne and by him who sits on it.
23 “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as justice and mercy and honesty. These you should practice, without neglecting the others.24Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel!
25“How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of your cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness.26Blind Pharisee! Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean too!
27 “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside.28In the same way, on the outside you appear good to everybody, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sins.
Today’s reading includes some harsh words that Jesus says to the religious leaders. Verses 13, 15, 16, 23, 25, and 27 begin with what are often referred to as “woes” (“How terrible for you” in the Good News translation) or warnings against the religious leaders. In prophetic tradition, such “woes” are considered divine judgments (see Isaiah 3:9-11) because the actions described hinder access to God’s purposes. Why does Jesus call the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees hypocrites? Reread verse 23. What teachings of the Law does Jesus accuse them of neglecting? What does today’s reading teach you?
Almighty God, remind me each day of your important teachings about justice, mercy, and honesty. May my words and actions reflect these teachings and advance your Kingdom. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Those who are tempted to be led astray by false teachings
1 Corinthians 1:1-17: The apostle Paul addresses the church in Corinth about problems that have arisen.