Memory verses for
this week: Luke 4:4 And Jesus answered
him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word of God.
last week’s lesson, we studied about the parable of the marriage feast
and then examined Christ’s response to the Herodians, Sadducees, and
I. The Marks of a
Mat 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
Mat 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
Jesus instructs his disciples and the multitude about the
Scribes and Pharisees. They sit in Moses’ seat and are in a position
where they can be heard and should have been a positive influence in
the lives of the Jews.
Mat 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that
observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do
Mat 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and
lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them
with one of their fingers.
What they bid, they were instructed to do. However, he warns
them to NOT follow after their works. They spoke well, but they did
not do the things they told others to do. It comes over very
negative when we talk a good talk but don’t walk the walk. It is easy
to warn others to do right, and then turn and not do it yourself.
Jesus tells them that they would bind heavy burdens upon others, but
would not move a finger to bear even one of those burdens.
Matthew Henry didn’t mince many words when he explained the
errors of the Pharisees.
We find not Christ, in
all his preaching, so severe upon any sort of people as upon these
scribes and Pharisees; for the truth is, nothing is more directly
opposite to the spirit of the gospel than the temper and practice of
that generation of men, who were made up of pride, worldliness, and
tyranny, under a cloak and pretence of religion; yet these were the
idols and darlings of the people, who thought, if but two men went to
heaven, one would be a Pharisee. Now Christ directs his discourse here
to the multitude, and to his disciples (v. 1) to rectify their
mistakes concerning these scribes and Pharisees, by painting them out
in their true colours, and so to take off the prejudice which some of
the multitude had conceived against Christ and his doctrine, because
it was opposed by those men of their church, that called themselves
the people’s guides. Note, It is good to know the true characters of
men, that we may not be imposed upon by great and mighty names,
titles, and pretensions to power. People must be told of the wolves
(Acts 20:29, 30), the dogs (Phil. 3:2), the deceitful
workers (2 Cor. 11:13), that they may know here to stand upon
their guard. And not only the mixed multitude, but even the disciples,
need these cautions; for good men are apt to have their eyes dazzled
with worldly pomp.
Mat 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they
make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their
Mat 23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief
seats in the synagogues,
Mat 23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men,
The Pharisees did things so that others could see them.
Being seen of men and having a good name among men is what so many
desire in this life. We rather should choose to please the Lord and
not be near as concerned about what ‘others’ think of us. As the
bible so clearly puts it, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
(Rom 8:31) The Pharisees would wear scriptures on their arm or
forehead to be seen of men. They loved all the important seats and
chief positions, and they wanted others to call them “Rabbi, Rabbi”.
Mat 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even
Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Mat 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is
your Father, which is in heaven.
Mat 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master,
Mat 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Mat 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and
he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Jesus instructs his disciples concerning the position and
attitude that they should have. God is the Heavenly Father, and He
only deserves the title of ‘Father’ or “Rabbi”. All of us are
brethren, and men should not so be reverenced in this life. I think
of a leading religious group that even today calls their leaders
‘fathers’. This is wrong according to verse 9. What will exalt man
in God’s eyes is when we truly sacrifice and help others. It says
that the greatest among you shall be your servant. Many want to be
in a place of honor, but few want to serve. God’s desire is for us
to learn humility and learn to be true servants to others. To abase
ourselves requires taking up our cross each day and putting the old
man to death and walking in the new man.
II. Jesus Denounces
Woe Upon the Pharisees
Mat 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for
ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in
yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Mat 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore
ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Pay attention particularly to these upcoming verses. The
Lord uses the term woe eight times in this section and calls scribes
and Pharisees hypocrites seven times. He accuses them of blocking the
way to heaven by their false leadership.
There is woe coming to those who become a stumblingblock.
If we don’t teach and preach the truth, and come to God His way, we
neither enter there, nor lead others to God. We can fool men, but
God knows all about us. The church has an awesome responsibility to
tell others about Christ.
Psa 1:1 Blessed is
the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth
in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Woe is coming to the deceiver… those who devour widow’s
houses and make a long prayer to be seen of men.
Rom 16:17 Now I
beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences
contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Rom 16:18 For they
that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly;
and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
Eph 4:14 That we
henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about
with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning
craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Eph 4:15 But
speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which
is the head, even Christ:
2 Th 2:3 Let no man
deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there
come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of
Mat 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye
make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Woe to the one who is a proselytor for evil. To encourage
others to do wrong is one of the worst things we could ever do.
Titus 1:10 For there
are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the
Titus 1:11 Whose
mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things
which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
Titus 1:12 One of
themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway
liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
Titus 1:13 This
witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound
in the faith;
Titus 1:14 Not
giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from
Titus 1:15 Unto the
pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and
unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is
Titus 1:16 They
profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being
abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
2 Tim 3:1 This know
also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 Tim 3:2 For men
shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud,
blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2 Tim 3:3 Without
natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce,
despisers of those that are good,
2 Tim 3:4 Traitors,
heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
2 Tim 3:5 Having a
form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Mat 23:16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever
shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by
the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
Mat 23:17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or
the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
Mat 23:18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing;
but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
Mat 23:19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or
the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
Mat 23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by
it, and by all things thereon.
Mat 23:21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and
by him that dwelleth therein.
Mat 23:22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the
throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
There is a great woe for placing material things before
God. If something comes between us and our service to the Lord, that
effectively is an idol. Absolutely nothing should stand between us
serving our Lord and Master.
Mat 6:19 Lay not up
for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt,
and where thieves break through and steal:
Mat 6:20 But lay up
for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth
corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Mat 6:21 For where
your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Mat 6:22 The light
of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole
body shall be full of light.
Mat 6:23 But if
thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If
therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that
Mat 6:24 No man can
serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the
other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye
cannot serve God and mammon.
1 John 2:15 Love not
the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love
the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:16 For all
that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
1 John 2:17 And the
world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will
of God abideth for ever.
Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier
matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have
done, and not to leave the other undone.
Mat 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a
Mat 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they
are full of extortion and excess.
Mat 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within
the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Woe to those who place outward works above the inward
spiritual things of God. God wants the heart pure and clean, not the
outward man only. We need to clean the inside up (and that requires
repentance and faith in Jesus Christ), and the outside will shine from
the inside out.
J. Vernon McGee had this to say on these verses.
This fifth woe
pictures the Pharisees with their emphasis on the externals. This is a
picture of the average church today that is so busy making the outside
of the cup and platter clean. They go through all the ceremonies. They
want to have the best equipment. They talk so nice and piously on the
outside, but inside they do not deal with sin. In most cases, they do
not even like the word sin. But all of the external ceremonies
cannot clean up their inner corruption. The Pharisees substituted
ritual for reality, formality for faith, and liturgy for God.
Don’t misunderstand Him. He is not saying that the outside should not
be clean. But you give a wrong impression when the inside is dirty and
the outside is not. The place to start is on the inside.
Mat 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful
outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all
Mat 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but
within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Mat 23:29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because
ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the
Mat 23:30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we
would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
To be compared to a grave is pretty sad. You look good on
the outside, but inside you are full of dead men’s bones. We need
to get ourselves lined up and cleaned up by looking to Christ for
strength to face each day.
This is a continuation of J. Vernon McGee’s comments.
To me this is the most
frightening figure of speech which our Lord used. As I said
previously, the cup and platter (saucer), clean on the outside and
dirty on the inside, picture the average church in our day. But I am
afraid that this simile of the tomb pictures the average church-goer—beautiful
on the outside, but on the inside they are dead in trespasses and
sins. They have a form of godliness, but they deny the power of it to
make them new creations in Christ. My friend, until that happens to
you, your church membership is null and void; it is nothing but
hypocrisy. When I read that over half the population of the United
States are church members, I wonder why in public places I see
ninety-nine percent of the crowd drinking cocktails, using profanity,
and telling dirty stories. We have a whole lot of marble tombs walking
around, spiritual zombies, dead in trespasses and sins.
how He is denouncing religious leaders! And they should be denounced
above everyone else. My friend, if you have a Bible-teaching church in
your community and a preacher who believes the Book and is trying to
teach it, for God’s sake stand with him in these days. He needs you,
and you need him. Oh, how we need men who believe the Word of God—and
Mat 23:31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are
the children of them which killed the prophets.
Mat 23:32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Mat 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape
the damnation of hell?
Mat 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise
men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some
of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from
city to city:
Mat 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon
the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of
Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the
Mat 23:36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon
The woe of damnation upon them for their rejection of God’s
men and God’s word. Not many care about defending God’s word today,
and standing up for the truth for which it projects and embodies. The
word of God doesn’t just contain truth, but it is total truth.
Rev 21:7 He that
overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he
shall be my son.
Rev 21:8 But the
fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have
their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is
the second death.
John 1:11 He came
unto his own, and his own received him not.
III. Jesus Laments
Mat 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets,
and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have
gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens
under her wings, and ye would not!
The inhabitants of Jerusalem were guilty of stoning the very
men that God had sent unto them with a message from Him. In this
message, Christ gives an invitation for them to come unto Him for
salvation and deliverance. He has such a desire to gather them as a
Hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Having grown up in the
country on a farm, this has significance to me. I’ve seen mother
hens spread those wings and make a clucking noise as rain began to
pour, and those little chicks would run under her wings. Sometimes 20
or 30 from one hen. I’ve also seen them protect them from cats and
dogs. Oh how Jesus wanted the lost Jews to turn to Him that he might
protect them. But they refused and would not come to Him.
Mat 23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you
Mat 23:39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see
me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the
name of the Lord.
Jesus leaves their house desolate as God blinds their eyes
to the truth. He came first to the Jews, and they would not. But
all those that do come, they will be blessed.
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4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth
more and more unto the perfect day.
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Practice Random Acts of Kindness. Each act spreads, and many will be
Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible
commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System,
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.
Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible
commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System,
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.