Jesus was confident and forthright in His critique of the scribes and the Pharisees. They were “hypocrites” who taught, but did not truly practice, a burdensome school of Judaism that was out of accord with a biblical understanding of the Law. Their focus was on their own “honor” in the view of those around them and not on the glory of the Almighty.
“Woe to you,” said Jesus regarding these teachers who would soon imagine that they had defeated Him. They missed a perfect opportunity to have their theology and behavior corrected by the Lord of Hosts. Christ could have been their “instructor,” but instead of opening their hearts to Him, they held tenaciously to a model of mission and ministry handed down to them by rabbis and elders of the past. Their heroes had added a mountain of ceremonial regulations to the commandments of God.
Over the centuries the Pharisees had created many rules about matters such as making religious oaths and tithing. They took godly practices and turned them into twisted patterns of showy piety more for the love of money and praise than for the worship of Yahweh.
Like all of mankind, the best and the brightest among the first century Jews had an inner malady of the soul that only the Creator could heal. Rather than come to Him for mercy, they sought to put to death the one Man who was the true hope for every needy sinner.
Many Israelites from previous generations had treated the Lord’s messengers with great disrespect. Now the “blind guides” of Jesus’ day were about to fulfill the ugly pattern of their ancestors in seeking the destruction of the Messiah. What they meant for evil, God would turn around for great good. They wanted to murder a Man who had become a thorn in their sides, but His blood would bring life to countless sinners who could never have had peace with God by their own efforts.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord of Hosts, we cannot have peace with You through any system of law. We must have Jesus, the only Redeemer of mankind. People everywhere have ways of boasting in themselves while acting like they are submitting to You. Please save Your children from this deep deception. Conquer all religious hypocrisy within Your churches by the gospel of Your Son. Cast away from us all false pretense of holiness, and teach all who would worship You about our need for You. We can only have the gift of righteousness because of the cross of Christ. If we do not have Your presence in our lives then we have nothing, and we will never move forward in Your service.