March 30 – The Gospel of Matthew – Chapter 23

Read Matthew 23:1-39

If you have ever had the “pleasure” of teaching a teenager how to drive, the word “Whoa” with lots of exclamation points after it might have slipped out of your mouth.  Everyone knows that the word W-H-O-A means to stop!

However, instead of W-H-O-A, Jesus used W-O-E in this verse which means way more than just to stop.  The word “woe” in the Greek is “ouai” and is often used to express grief, regret, misfortune or grievous distress, impending doom, condemnation and/or the wrath of God!

We are talking serious business here!

Jesus was not just telling the teachers of the law and Pharisees to stop what they were doing but warning them of the coming condemnation and possible wrath of God!  They needed to repent and turn from their wicked ways ASAP!

Seven times Jesus said “Woe” to them! They had been put in their positions in the temple to bring people closer to God but, because of their pride, greed, or their own sin, they were making the gap between God and His people wider, not narrower.

You might say, “But I am not a Pharisee! Why should I be concerned about this chapter in the Bible?”

Jesus wasn’t only talking to the leaders who were in His immediate presence; He was talking to us as well.

Think of Matthew 23 as a mirror on your own life and motives.

Jesus will say “woe” to me…

  1. If I preach, but do not practice what I tell others to do. (Careful, parents, on this one) (Matthew 23:3)
  2. If I expect more of others than I am willing to do, especially my kids. (Matthew 23:4)
  3. If I do all my deeds to be seen by others and to get their praise and applause, not just because it is the right thing to do. (Matthew 23:5).
  4. If I exalt myself, lifting myself above others, or putting others down who might not be as wealthy or well educated as myself. (Matthew 23:5-12).
  5. If I serve as a hindrance at the entrance of the kingdom of heaven, twisting the true words of Jesus to justify what I want to do and therefore leading others away from God. (Matthew 23:13-15).
  6. If I am blinded by human tradition and worldly reasoning, dismissing God’s Laws as being out of date to fit with modern thinking to be in the “in crowd” (Matthew 23:16-22).
  7. If I neglect the weightier matters of God’s expectation, not wanting to deal with the heart of the issue, letting things I know to be against God’s word go without pointing it out just because I don’t want to get involved or face possible conflict. (Matthew 23:23-24).
  8. If I am filthy and hypocritical on the inside. Does my “Sunday persona” match my “weekly actions, language and attitude?”  Or is it all for show?  (Matthew 23:25-28).
  9. If I am confronted with truth and refuse to respond. (Matthew 23:29-36).

The “good news” is that it is not too late (Matthew 23:37-39).  For those who are willing to respond to God’s offer of grace, the opportunity for redemption still stands (1 Peter 3:18-22).

How about taking a serious look into the mirror of the words in Matthew 23, repent of what you see that would cause Jesus to say “Woe” to you, and start afresh with a new relationship with Him?

It’s not too late to start anew today!

Pat Arnold

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