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Tim Vusik
Matthew 23:13-15
GCS Sermons 2017
53 mins 2 secs
Views: 24

In His fifth discourse in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus addresses the dangers of false religion by exposing the Jewish spiritual leaders, namely the scribes and the Pharisees. Throughout His earthly ministry, Christ confronted them by correcting their error, condemning their system, and exposing their hearts. This final clash however, is different. Christ is approaching His eminent death, being in the final week of his life, so the timing could not have been more urgent. The scribes and the Pharisees have been toying with the Law of God (Luke 11:52), putting on a mask of holiness in front of others thus leading people away from the knowledge of the truth. Christ, knowing the danger and the damning nature of their religion, pronounces His judgment on them with the eight “woes” in verses 13-33.

This confrontation was personal. The Pharisees were never known to be a group characterized by humility, who realized they were sinners and needed God’s grace to be pardoned. On the contrary, they were excellent at advancing themselves, boasting about their strict adherence to the Law and rituals, and focusing on works as means of righteousness rather than faith in Christ. Ever since the preaching of John the Baptist, they hated the message of repentance (Matt 3:7-8). When Christ came preaching the same truth (Matt 4:17), they opposed Him more vigorously, even to the place of His death. Their grave error was that they hindered the multitudes who were listening to Christ from coming to Him by faith. Christ, who is the only way to the Father and the only source of truth (John 14:6), condemned them for not believing in Him themselves as well as leading others away from Him. They were guilty of shutting the doors of heaven to those who were coming in by rejecting Christ!

Jesus also pronounces woes because the religious elite were more concerned with making disciples for themselves, rather than making disciples for Christ. They were greedy (23:14a) and proud (23:14b), and were going great lengths to make converts who would emulate them, not the Lord. They were not in the ministry winning people for Christ but for themselves! As a result, they ended up making disciples who were characterized by greater evils and were doubly worthy of hell (23:15).

Christ cared for people. He knew that the only way anyone will step foot into His kingdom would be by coming to the Father through Him in the spirit of brokenness, realizing their utter depravity, pleading for great mercy and grace (Eph 2:4). He is the only door through which one must enter to be saved (John 10:9). All other ways will inevitably bring to destruction, not glory. Anyone who advocates for a different Gospel, will be judged and condemned (Gal 1:9).

 

Pointing to and preaching Christ is the only remedy to men’s greatest need; all other ways will prove to be damning