What Jesus Did! 'How Terrible! (3)' — Matthew 23:16-22

Monday, October 30, 2017

"It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You guide the people, but you are blind. You say, 'If any person uses the name of the temple to make a promise, that means nothing. But if any person uses the gold that is in the temple to make a promise, then he must keep that promise.' You are blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple? The temple makes that gold holy. {So the temple is greater.} And you say, 'If any person uses the altar to make a promise, that means nothing. But if any person uses the gift on the altar to make a promise, then he must keep his promise.' You are blind. {You understand nothing!} Which is greater: the gift, or the altar? The altar makes the gift holy. {So the altar is greater.} The person that uses the altar to make a promise is really using the altar and also everything on the altar. And the person that uses the temple to make a promise is really using the temple and also the One that lives in the temple. The person that uses heaven to make a promise is also using God's throne and the One that sits on that throne."
— Matthew 23:16-22
Illustration of Matthew 23:16-22 — "It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees."

Key Thought

Of course the bottom line for Jesus is that we shouldn't have to swear by anything: our yes, our word, should be enough. But to make matters worse, they went beyond swearing to a developed theology of what things by which you swear are most important. Jesus is angry because the simple truth has been complicated and comprised by petty distinctions in legal terminology. Jesus' anger should be felt by believers today. In an age of sound bites, spin, and hedging the truth through "legalese," we as Christians must be a people who simply speak the truth openly, honestly, and without compromise, but always in love.

Today's Prayer

Almighty and true God, give me a pure heart free of deceit. Help my words be true and have no need of nuance or fine print to be proved accurate and reliable. As your word is true, I want the words of my mouth to be accurate and to please you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

"It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You close the way for people to enter the kingdom of heaven. You yourselves don't enter, and you stop the people that are trying to enter. "It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You travel across the seas and across different countries to find one person that will follow your ways. When you find that person, you make him worse than you are. And you are so bad that you belong in hell! "It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You guide the people, but you are blind. You say, 'If any person uses the name of the temple to make a promise, that means nothing. But if any person uses the gold that is in the temple to make a promise, then he must keep that promise.' You are blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple? The temple makes that gold holy. {So the temple is greater.} And you say, 'If any person uses the altar to make a promise, that means nothing. But if any person uses the gift on the altar to make a promise, then he must keep his promise.' You are blind. {You understand nothing!} Which is greater: the gift, or the altar? The altar makes the gift holy. {So the altar is greater.} The person that uses the altar to make a promise is really using the altar and also everything on the altar. And the person that uses the temple to make a promise is really using the temple and also the One that lives in the temple. The person that uses heaven to make a promise is also using God's throne and the One that sits on that throne. "It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You give God one tenth of everything you own—even your mint, dill, and cummin. But you don't obey the really important teachings of the law—being fair, showing mercy, and being faithful. These are the things you should do. And you should also continue to do those other things. You guide the people, but you are blind! Thinkabout a person picking a little fly out of his drink and then swallowing a camel! You are like that. "It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You wash clean the outside of your cups and dishes. But inside they are full of things that you got by cheating other people and pleasing yourselves. Pharisees, you are blind! First make the inside of the cup clean and good. Then the outside of the cup can be truly clean. "It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You are like tombs that are painted white. The outside of those tombs looks fine. But inside, the tombs are full of the bones of dead people. And all kinds of unclean things are inside there. It is the same with you. People look at you and think that you are good. But on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and evil. "It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You build tombs for the prophets. And you show honor to the graves of people that lived good lives. And you say, 'If we had lived during the time of our fathers, we would not have helped them kill these prophets.' You give proof that you are children (descendants) of those people that killed the prophets. And you will finish the sin that your fathers started!

Matthew 23:13-32

Related Scripture Readings

"You have heard that it was said to our people long ago, 'When you make a vow (promise), don't break that promise. Keep the vows (promises) that you make to the Lord.' But I tell you, never make a vow. Don't make a vow using the name of heaven, because heaven is God's throne. Don't make a vow using the name of the earth, because the earth belongs to God. Don't make a vow using the name of Jerusalem, because that is the city of the great King (God). And don't even say that your own head is proof that you will keep your vow. You cannot make one hair on your head become white or black. Say only 'yes' if you mean yes, and say only 'no' if you mean no. If you must say more than 'yes' or 'no,' it is from the Evil One (the devil).

Matthew 5:33-37

My brothers and sisters, it is very important that you not use an oath when you make a promise. Don't use the name of heaven, earth, or anything else to prove what you say. When you mean yes, say only "yes." When you mean no, say only "no." Do this so that you will not be judged guilty.

James 5:12

I hope my words and thoughts please you. Lord, you are my Rock—You are the One who saves me.

Psalms 19:14

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.