[CF Devotionals] 2014-03-10 - What Would a Disciple Say?

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Matthew 23:1-39

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. (Matthew 23:23 NIV)

I think I counted seven woes in Jesus’ speech. Jesus did not hold back His feelings regarding the religious leaders’ behavior. He called them hypocrites, and told of what horror awaits them because of their evil deeds. They pretend to be holy in public, but as soon as people’s backs are turned, they evict widows from their homes. They appear righteous; inside, these leaders are filled with evil. They obediently tithe, but forget about justice, mercy, and faith.

These men take special attention to the outside but never look within. They enjoy being recognized for their status and leadership roles. How will these men escape condemnation? God will send them prophets and teachers, but to no avail. The leaders will kill and beat the innocent prophets, while denying it. They believe they are great, but the greatest is to be a servant.

Jesus wanted to protect the people from the monstrosity, but the leaders were not willing to change. Jesus warned His listeners to respect the current leaders of the law. However, we should not condone or follow their evil behavior and actions. Alas, there was some good news in Jesus’ lament. If the leaders change their mind and declare “’Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,’” (v39) they will have the Lord’s help and presence in their lives. If only they will listen!

Lord, Thank You for showing me who to listen to. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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