What Jesus Did! 'You Snakes!' — Matthew 23:33-36

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"You are snakes! You are from a family of poisonous snakes! You will not escape God. You will all be judged guilty and go to hell! So I tell you this: I send to you prophets and wise men and teachers. You will kill some of these people. You will hang some of them on crosses. You will beat some of these people in your synagogues. You will chase them from town to town. So you will be guilty for the death of all the good people that have been killed on earth. You will be guilty for the killing of that good man Abel. And you will be guilty for the killing of Zechariah son of Berachiah. He was killed between the temple and the altar. You will be guilty for the killing of all the good people that lived between the time of Abel and the time of Zechariah. I tell you the truth. All of these things will happen to you people that are living now."
— Matthew 23:33-36
Illustration of Matthew 23:33-36 — "You are snakes!

Key Thought

The Israel of Jesus' day is about to bring down judgment against Israel, and especially Jerusalem. This is because they are about to reject Jesus, God's Son. What's more, they do not just reject him, they scorn him, they brutalize him, and they have him put to death on a Roman cross. But it isn't Jesus alone who is rejected. Israel had gotten in the habit of ignoring, bullying, and even murdering those prophets who did not give them what they wanted. Jesus' death is just the ultimate transgression by the people in a long line of progressions where prophets were mistreated, abused, and murdered for speaking God's unadulterated truth. But surely we can do more than honor the prophets of old in our day in some arcane and outdated ritual that "frees" us from having to deal seriously with their teachings. Surely, we can seek to live by the prophets' teachings and have those values built into the fabric of God's family.

Today's Prayer

Father, may I honor the words and the spirit of your will that has been delivered by the prophets. Give me strength and courage, please, dear Lord, so I can be a living example of your truth in my world. In Jesus' name I ask it fervently. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

"You are snakes! You are from a family of poisonous snakes! You will not escape God. You will all be judged guilty and go to hell! So I tell you this: I send to you prophets and wise men and teachers. You will kill some of these people. You will hang some of them on crosses. You will beat some of these people in your synagogues. You will chase them from town to town. So you will be guilty for the death of all the good people that have been killed on earth. You will be guilty for the killing of that good man Abel. And you will be guilty for the killing of Zechariah son of Berachiah. He was killed between the temple and the altar. You will be guilty for the killing of all the good people that lived between the time of Abel and the time of Zechariah. I tell you the truth. All of these things will happen to you people that are living now. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets. You kill with rocks those men that God sent to you. Many, many times I wanted to help your people. I wanted to gather your people together like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you did not let me. Now your house will be left completely empty. I tell you, you will not see me again until that time when you will say, 'Welcome! God bless the one that comes in the name of the Lord.' "

Matthew 23:33-39

One of the teachers of the law said to Jesus, "Teacher, when you say these things about the Pharisees, you are criticizing our group too." Jesus answered, "It will be bad for you, you teachers of the law! You make strict rules that are very hard for people to obey. You try to force other people to obey those rules. But you yourselves don't even try to follow any of those rules. It will be bad for you, because you build tombs for the prophets. But these are the same prophets that your fathers killed! And now you show all people that you agree with what your fathers did. They killed the prophets, and you build tombs for the prophets! This is why the Wisdom of God said, 'I will send prophets and apostles to them. Some of my prophets and apostles will be killed by evil men. Others will be treated badly.' So you people that live now will be punished for the deaths of all the prophets that were killed since the beginning of the world. You will be punished for the killing of Abel. And you will be punished for the killing of Zechariah. Zechariah was killed between the altar and the temple. Yes, I tell you that you people that live now will be punished for them all. "It will be bad for you, you teachers of the law. You have taken away the key to learning about God. You yourselves would not learn, and you stopped others from learning, too." When Jesus was leaving, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees began to give him much trouble. They tried to make Jesus answer questions about many things. They were trying to find a way to catch Jesus saying something wrong.

Luke 11:45-54

{Then Stephen said,} "You stubborn Jewish leaders! You have not given your hearts to God! You won't listen to him! You are always against what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you. Your ancestors did this, and you are just like them! Your ancestors persecuted every prophet that ever lived. Those prophets said long ago that the Righteous One (Christ ) would come. But your ancestors killed those prophets. And now you have turned against the Righteous One and killed him.

Acts 7:51-52

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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.