Matthew 23: An Indictment

In this chapter, Jesus delivers a scathing rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees. Looking back over the past chapters, we remember the encounters Jesus has had with these learned groups of Jews and how they have tried to expose Jesus as a false prophet numerous times. Jesus has used wisdom and a knowing patience to put to rest their empty and thinly veiled accusations. 

But here the cauldron bursts and Jesus’s speech is confrontational and condemning. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read all of the verses in this chapter. Jesus’s message is one of utter disgust at their hypocrisy and also reveals that He knows the true content of their hearts despite their outwardly false show of godliness.

The application for us today is to not be like the scribes and the Pharisees. For our study tonight, let’s review the following ideas as they progress through the chapter: 

– vs. 4: Do I expect standards of behavior from others that I do not follow myself? 

– vs. 5: Do I seek attention and praise for doing good things? Or do I do good things to please others and God?

– vs. 8-10: Do I know where true authority comes from? 

– vs. 13: Do I exclude others from good things? 

– vs. 15: Am I a bad influence? 

– vs. 16-22: Do I place importance on the right things?

– vs. 23-24: Does my nitpicking cause me to lose sight of what is truly important?

– vs. 25-28: Do I make myself appear good outside, but inwardly I am corrupted?

Remember that it requires effort to remain true to God. Daily prayer and honest intent in each action are required to remain steadfast in God’s work and in His kingdom. 

As we are renewed each morning, we make sure to dedicate ourselves to Him, ignoring temptations and influences that lead us away from God. Therefore let us put energy into being a positive force in others’ lives, helping others, and showing our faith in Jesus through the pattern of our humble and giving behavior.

Let us live for God, and not to please ourselves. We will not always be successful, but our efforts will be rewarded and we will increase in our successes as our faith and desire to serve God builds on the faith we nurture.

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