Jesus has harsh words for the religious leaders and Pharisees. We often think of these people as the “bad guys”, but the truth is they were very much seen as the good guys in their own day, though they drove people away from God. And the criticism that Jesus had for these vain religious people often applies very much to ourselves. Here is my take on the words of Christ:
- They do things for show and praise of people, not God. They love titles of honor.
- They shut the door of heaven in others faces – claiming to be the gatekeepers.
- They are willing to travel to teach others, but not willing to take the time and trouble to inspect themselves.
- They have a false priority system – swearing by the gold but not the Temple. They miss what is most important and make rules around God.
- They follow the details of the law to the smallest detail, but miss the biggest points – justice, mercy, faith. In so doing they completely misdefine God – seeing Him as a God of smallest detail, and not big faith and love.
- They are full of greed and self-indulgence. This seems odd, because Pharisees didn’t usually have a lot of money, and they fasted twice a week. They were indulging their hunger for rules and religiousity – to make themselves feel better and more worthy to God.
- They are dead on the inside, but look great on the outside. They have lawlessness – these people who memorized the law!
- They are the descendants of those who killed the prophets, and blind to their own sins, and so they will be judged.
This is a big list. And, if we are honest, this is a list that has some things we struggle with. Today, what is one thing you need to confess to God, and let Him change in you?