"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!"
— Matthew 23:13-15 NLT
"Raise the bar!" That was the Pharisees' goal, to see who could be the most righteous. A laudable goal until you realize that it was a righteousness few could approach, much less earn. When righteousness is based upon my ability to exceed my fellows, then something is really rotten. It also makes it extremely difficult for those who aren't raised in the incubator of Jewish Pharisaism to have a chance. They're shut out before they even start.
Despite their zeal for righteousness, the Pharisees destroy it, the people God intended to find it, and when they do get someone, they so corrupt him with their legalism that he's worse off than when he was a pagan.
Jesus reminds us that in his Kingdom, righteousness is about serving others, serving God without ostentatious show, and caring for new converts.
O God, please forgive me when I think so much about myself and how my faith looks and appears to others. Give me a heart to help those new in the Kingdom family to find their place and encourage and help them on their journey to be more like you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Gal. 1:6-10
- Phil. 3:2-6
- Gal. 3:23-25
About This Devotional
What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.
What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.