Matthew Lesson 23 Day 5

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Matthew Lesson 23 Day 5

Matthew 23:13–39

11. Woes Jesus pronounced on the religious leaders

“The true target of the whole discourse is the crowds and disciples who need to break free from Pharisaic legalism.” (France)(1)

Woes—Grief; sorrow; misery; heavy calamity. Woeful; sorrowful. A curse; a malediction. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary)

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” Matthew 23:13

They did this by (1) creating so many requirements for salvation that people despaired of ever being good enough to be accepted by God and by (2) making people think, “If what they have is salvation, then I don’t want it.” (8)

  • Present the Gospel which is Good News. We are saved by God’s grace—not by our works, so be the real deal.

  • Let the light and love of Jesus shine through me.

“You devour widows’ houses” Matthew 23:14 (Many translations don’t include this verse, but it is present in Mark and Luke.)

This refers to taking the money that should have been used by children to provide for their widowed mothers. Mark 7:11-12

  • Look out for the needs of widows who live nearby, and contribute to a local ministry that provides food for the poor.

“…for a pretense make long prayers.” Mark 12:40

  • Pray continually without calling attention to myself.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23:15

They were trying to convert others to follow their traditions rather than converting them to love the Lord.

(See comment on the first woe.)

  • Pray for those who are without Jesus.

  • Support the efforts of others who have the right heart.

Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ Matthew 23:16 (See comment on next question.)

“‘And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’” Matthew 23:18

  • Temporal things are more important to hypocrites than laying up treasures in heaven. Make promises with caution. When I do make one, be certain to keep my word.

you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. ” Matthew 23:23

I’ve heard that restaurant wait staff says Christians leave the worst tips. Because of this, they hate to work the lunch shift on Sundays. I hope that isn’t true, but I’ve heard some fellow church members say, “if God asks for 10%, why should I tip more than that?”

  • By blessing those I come in contact with, I represent Christ and His followers as loving and generous, not selfish and stingy.

There are many opportunities to extend mercy. This is a matter of the heart. It’s always easier to drop something in an offering plate than to take personal responsibility. Contributing to real needs isn’t always tax-deductible.

“you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23:25

This passage comes to mind:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10–12

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27–28

  • Be kind, but don’t pretend to be holier than everyone else. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth. He is able to complete the good work He began in me.
  • Renew my mind.
  • Seek God’s kingdom before everything else and his righteousness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Matthew 23:29

  • Be humble and forgive others. Don’t judge. As Jesus pointed out, the religious leaders were doing the same thing without realizing it.
  • Keep my heart open to the Holy Spirit so I learn and know the truth.

12. a. Matthew 23:33–36

Isreal regularly killed the prophets sent by God to warn them to repent.

Jesus also knows they will do the same to him and his followers.

b. His own death at the hands of the Pharisees.

Jesus loves and grieves over Jerusalem as a mother loves and grieves over a rebellious and estranged child. He longs to be reconciled to her. By rejecting Jesus, she rejects His protective loving care and as their Lord and Savior.

It’s probably in reference to future fulfillment at Jesus’ second coming when the Jews will recognize Jesus as their Messiah and every knee in every nation will bow down and acknowledge Jesus as Lord.


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1 EnduringWord.com used by written permission.
2 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations from *The ESV Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
3 Strong’s Concordance, public domain.
4 *Spirit Filled Life Bible®copyright © 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. (The Holy Bible, New King James Bible) copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
5 Ellicott’s Commentary, public domain.
6 Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, public domain.
7 The Names of God Bible (without notes) © 2011 by Baker Publishing Group.
8 Andrew Wommack Living Commentary, used by written permission

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My answers, research, and notes for BSF Bible Study Fellowship questions Matthew Lesson 23 Day 5