What Jesus Did! 'How Terrible! (4)' — Matthew 23:23-24

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"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! Think about a person picking a little fly out of his drink and then swallowing a camel! You are like that."
— Matthew 23:23-24
Illustration of Matthew 23:23-24 — "It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees."

Key Thought

In every age and in every movement of God's people, it seems that the biggest struggle we have always faced was the problem of "majoring in minors." It is so incredibly easy to get off track and find ourselves pursuing good minor pursuits at the exclusion of the important and major ones.
Jesus does not criticize the religious leaders of his day for taking scrupulous care of God's laws. What really irritates him and brings his condemnation upon them is that as they took minute care with small matters, they also completely abandoned the key matters, the core issues. You see, discipleship has always been about character and concern: reflecting the character of our Lord and being concerned about the same things that concern him. Unfortunately, we find it easy to fight over these gnat issues and swallow the camel issues. Jesus reminds us what is central: justice, mercy, and faithfulness!

Today's Prayer

O Father, help me see what is most important and focus on it without neglecting those little issues that are easy for me to keep. Please use your Spirit to stir my heart and lead me to pursue the things that show your character and grace to others and bring glory to 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

Now, brothers and sisters, I want you to remember the Good News I told you about. You received this message, and you continue strong in it. You are saved by this message. But you must continue believing the things I told you. If you don't do that, then you believed for nothing. I gave you the message that I received. I told you the most important things: that Christ died for our sins, like the Scriptures say;

1 Corinthians 15:1-3

The Pharisees learned that Jesus told the Sadducees things they could not argue with. So the Pharisees met together. One Pharisee was an expert in the law {of Moses}. That Pharisee asked Jesus a question to test him. The Pharisee said, "Teacher, which command in the law is the most important?" Jesus answered, "'You must love the Lord your God. You must love him with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: 'You must love other people the same as you love yourself.' All of the law and the writings of the prophets take their meaning from these two commands."

Matthew 22:34-40

You should let fairness flow like water {through your country}. Let goodness flow like a stream that never becomes dry.

Amos 5:24

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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.