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 NLT
Illustration of Matthew 23:16-22 NLT — "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.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 5:33-37
  • James 5:12
  • 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.

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.