But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
The entire 23rd Chapter of Matthew denounces the scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of Jesus' time. Its 39 verses of scripture, in His Own Words, present an unparalleled indictment. In addition, Jesus speaks hard truth to church leaders in every Face-to-face encounter.
On the other hand, I do not see one instance of Jesus condemning tax collectors, poor sinners, demon-possessed lunatics, or prostitutes. He does not threaten them with harsh judgments. Quite the opposite. He heals, teaches, loves, restores, and frees them.
Why do many of today's Christian leaders ignore Jesus' Words? Why do they criticize or ostracize politicians, homosexuals, strangers, foreigners, welfare moms, sassy stars, drug dealers, AIDS victims, prisoners, street people, poor people, other religions, other denominations, and each other?
This lengthy section of the New Testament is not a history lesson; it warns us of the consequences of our own temptations to complacency, arrogance, and man-made church traditions.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Christian Scribes & Pharisees series.