You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?
Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.
Welcome to More Than Ink. Well, hello, you've joined us this morning. I'm Jim and I'm Dorothy, and we do indeed sit at our dining room table, I'm looking at it right now, with our coffees right now.
We are, and it tastes really good. So we are ready to go. So I hope you've pulled up a chair and pull up your coffee and open up your Bible. By the way, we read out of the ESV version, so if you want to read along with this, it's just a lot more easy for you to follow. And that translation is an English translation, so you don't trip over the various grammar differences in the different English translations. So it's the ESV, English Standard Version. But it is not wrong to be reading in another version.
I was just going to say that, yeah. No, in fact, when I first came to the Lord, I did King James, and that was great. So anyway, yeah, just as long as you're reading the Bible. And so we also not only want you to read the Bible, but we want you to ask questions. We talked about that a few times back, about how to look at a passage and not just read it and go, oh, okay, that's what it says. You need to interact with it. You need to question it.
You need to go, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, what? And that's what we do here. It's easier to do with someone else to do that. So it's a delightful way to untangle what you read in the Word. Not that you can't read it on your own, but it's just a great delight and God bless you when you do it with someone else.
So find someone else to do it with. It's a great thing. Well, where are we? We're in chapter 23 of Matthew. And again, the scene is that we're in the Passion Week. Jesus is in Jerusalem. There's a lot of conflict going on with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It will eventually end up with Him being crucified in just a day or so after this passage we'll look at here. So He's constantly in this confrontation with the religious leaders, and today is no exception. No, and actually the tenor of the conversation has just ramped up to so much tension here. We're in this middle of the section in 23 that's called the woes.
So we talked about the first three last week, and we have four more today. But what is a woe? Because that's not a word we use very often. So when you see something like that repeated, it's important to kind of slow down, find out what it means. A woe. When you say woe to somebody, you're saying you're going to be so sorry. This will cause you great regret and sorrow in the future. It's like a warning. You need to watch out. But we see here, it's also coupled with a condemnation that Jesus is calling out the Pharisees and the scribes for their bad spiritual leadership.
Yeah. They were entrusted with God's sheep, His flock, and they are, I always call them the hundred shepherds. They're supposed to be caring for God's flock, but they're not doing it. So Jesus is taking the task just a few days before they themselves crucify Him to tell them where they're falling short. So if you want to follow with us, we're in chapter 23 of Matthew, and we're starting in verse 23. We're starting into the fourth woe that Jesus speaks to them. And this is meant to not only call them on the carpet, but to really sober them up about a problem. Well, and listen, if you've never paid attention before, how many times He calls them hypocrites, and how many other descriptive things He calls them. This is name calling in a righteous sense. He's identifying their characteristics. Okay, let's start reading in 23. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides straining out a net and swallowing a camel. Let's stop on that one.
That last picture always makes me laugh, even though I know it's coming. Well, apparently they actually did strain their wine to make sure there were no bugs they didn't immediately see. Yeah, that makes sense. To make it unclean, right? Yeah. Well, you know, the problem with straining a net is that you can't properly ceremonially bleed it before you eat it.
So, believe it or not, that's the minutiae of why they can't eat bugs. Anyway. Oh, oh, oh, it took me a minute to figure out what you're talking about. Okay, let's go back. Forget that.
Let's go back. So what he's talking about is he's saying that, you know, you guys are meticulous in how you follow the law. Meticulous. Down to tithing, mint and dill and cumin. The teeny weeny little herbs, counting the leaves.
Teeny weeny, yeah, yeah. And it's a really big deal. But, he says, he doesn't actually say that's wrong. What he says is you're neglecting the big picture, the big items. And the big items, what are they? Well, justice, mercy, faithfulness.
Gigantic, foundational, central issues of the law. And actually that he, it almost feels like he's quoting from Micah 6-8 there, which maybe you even know a song to it because I grew up singing this song. But Micah 6, actually 6-8 says, With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come with burnt offerings with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in a thousand rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Let's jump forward to verse eight.
He's told you, oh man, what's good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? And that kindness is mercy. It's said, it's the loving kindness of God. It's a devotional love.
Yes. Yeah, so he's really harkening back to that. I mean, commentators from the Old Testament say it's fascinating. The law started with ten things, the Ten Commandments. And then it sort of bloated out based on the rabbi's execution to figure out what does this mean.
It goes up to over 600 commands. And then just before you close the Old Testament, you're into Micah 6, three things, justice, mercy, faithfulness. And walking humbly with God. Walking humbly with God.
Yeah, so it's really very simple. Yeah, that's exactly what Jesus is doing here. And remember before we talked about that guy who came and asked what was the greatest commandment. Oh yeah, what's the greatest commandment. And Jesus says, it's to love God with all you have and to love men as yourself.
So those two things go together. Well, and when you look at justice, mercy, and faithfulness right here, those in a way encapsulate those very things as well. If you are treating your fellow man well, justice and mercy will be a part of that. And if you're walking with God. They're all relational.
Yeah, and if you're with God, faithfulness as well. So yeah, this is just saying it a different way. So you know, he's dinging the Pharisees here for majoring on the minor stuff.
Well, and I might be clear here too, he's majoring on the minor stuff and the minor stuff is very specific, very tangible. And what they're missing is the intangible, larger, overriding senses. Not specific laws, not one of the 600 plus laws, but something about the general nature of the laws they're missing. And so that's the way to your part. That's the foundational, that's the central idea.
So they're missing these items in all the way they're doing the law, not just a couple of the laws they're doing. The blind guides, right? What good is a blind guide?
He can't point anything out to you. Yeah. So Jesus says, you know, you should have done all of these without neglecting the others, but you're blind guides, you're blind guides. And straining out a net and swallowing a camel. Basically, they're working so hard to strain out the small minutia that they miss the big things and they basically swallow a camel. It's just a great picture. Well, he's going to get into that, the external and the internal contrast because they were majoring on the external minutia, totally missing the heart. Okay, let's read on. Verse 25, woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full, greed and self-indulgence.
You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and the plate that the outside may also be clean. Wow. So it looks like they're doing the righteousness to be seen for appearance.
Yeah, he's going to, that takes a bigger part in the next woe. Yeah, yeah. And so their focus, because appearance is such a big deal, their focus is how they look on the outside.
Right. And you know, everyone can look good on the outside. You can really fine tune how people perceive you on the outside, but God looks at the inside, like he says about picking David to be king.
God looks at the inside and he's saying the inside of your cup is just really icky. Well, it's all about you. And it's all about you. Full of greed, right? I want more and I want what I want. Right. And self-indulgence. It's all about me.
And this is something I talk about all the time. You know, people try and take good works and hang them on the outside of their lives, like fruit on a, like fruit on an apple tree, like fake fruit and stuff like that. But the nature of the tree makes a certain kind of fruit. So if you want a different kind of fruit, you need to change the nature of the tree.
And that's what Jesus says here too. You know, you need to clean the inside of the cup and the outside will follow after that. But if you're focused on the outside of the cup and the inside is icky, it's not really genuine. It's not authentic. You're just looking like it is.
It's fake fruit in many respects. Well, and in another place where Jesus talked about this, he said, you know, what is in your heart, your words proceed out of what's in your heart. That's back in chapter 12. Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's, that's the law.
The law has to be something that resides in your heart and then works its way out to the outside of you. Yeah. And he's going to do that again in the next whoa. So let's look at that. Okay. Verse 27. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to other others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Yeah. Same idea. You're tending to the outside, the appearance of righteousness, but not really truly heart-righteousness. Yeah. And you know, that idea of lawlessness is I disregard the law.
I, I reframe it for my own purposes. I, there is no law. We live above the law.
Right? So it's a matter of, of just rejecting the law of God, even while looking like you're keeping it. Looking like you're doing it. Yeah, exactly. Jesus talked about this. You lay these loads on people, but then you don't do it yourself.
You don't do it yourself. I might mention too, it's a nice historical thing that during Passover, which is the week that we're in, we're coming up to in the story here, they used to, they used to paint the tombs white. Right. To make them more visible so people wouldn't accidentally touch them and make themselves unclean. So they would do that on purpose, kind of as a courtesy. So people, outsiders from outside of town wouldn't accidentally brush up against the tomb and go, oh, you touched the tomb.
It also had the effect of making everything look white and clean. Yeah. But, but in reality, nobody knows there's dead bodies inside.
So it's just such a great and useful illustration because he could probably just turn over behind his shoulder and look and point at one, you know. So he has told them that they're full of greed and self-indulgence and here he says you're full of death and uncleanness. Right. The wages of sin is death.
Anybody who thinks Jesus was always gentle and never confronted anybody, has never read this passage. Nope. Yep. Yep. This is in your face.
Let's do another whoa. What do you say? Okay. Okay. Verse 29.
29, take it. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. This is the fourth time he says hypocrites in this passage. For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, if we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets. Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
Fill up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers. How are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barakiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Wow. Okay, that is, they were quaking in their boots.
Wow. I would have been. So yeah, here they are showing outsiders here in town for Passover, look, here's the tomb of so and so, here's the tomb of so and so. And you know, it's too bad he was killed because if I was living back then, I wouldn't have killed him. And Jesus says, Oh, yes, you would have. And how prophetic it is, because pretty soon they're going to kill Jesus, who's bringing the same message that those other ones brought about being repentant. And so he says, you know, you're going to fill up then the measure of your fathers, you're going to continue doing this murder of the prophets. I mean, that clearly is a prophecy about them killing Jesus coming up as well. And I think that when he says you are sons of those who murdered the prophets, that connects to at the end of this statement when he says all these things will come upon this generation.
Yeah, right. Because a generation in Scripture is not always strictly a chronological set of people. It's a group that shares a particular line. They have a lot in common.
They share a particular characteristic or character trait. It can be a generation. So you are of the generation of those who murdered the prophets. Right, right.
And they're going to they're going to suffer for it as well. I mean, his language in the last half of the section you just read is really very staggering. I mean, really staggering. And he says that, you know, if you're fooling yourself, if you think you're on the side of the righteous, that you would have protected the prophets, you would not have accepted their message. And Jesus even challenges them a little while ago about the message of John the Baptist, the last great prophet of the old covenant, you know.
And they weren't willing to say that he came from God. So, you know, it's really something. And it's interesting that it was John the Baptist who first called them a brood of vipers. No kidding.
Right. But that picture you serpent you brood of vipers, right? If you take your concordance and look up serpents and vipers and track that through the scriptures, it's very interesting. It will make very clear that we're talking about this creature that deceives and bites.
It moves very subtly, but its purpose is to strike you. Yeah. lethally. Yeah. Yeah. And you can retranslate brood of vipers into family of the devil.
This is kind of what it is. So you know that it's really bad. And I want to point out, since we're on the brood of vipers verse in verse 33, how, you know, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? It's interesting that Jesus here is not sentencing them to hell because his first visit was not judgment.
It's kind of a warning. In fact, what he's, what he's aiming for in saying this is to wake them up so they'll repent. He wants to see their repentance.
How are you to escape? How are you going to escape being sentenced to hell if this is the way you are? But he says, you know, I send you prophets and wisemen and scribes. Some you'll kill, some you'll crucify.
That'll happen in a couple of days. Some you'll flog, you'll persecute from town to town. You know, the apostle Paul did that. That's true. When he was Saul.
That's true. He persecuted them from town to town, dragging them out of their homes. And yet that's what happened to him when he came to the Lord and he started going from town to town. But okay, so when I read this just this week, verse 34 jumped off the page at me.
I'd never really noticed it. Therefore, I will send you prophets and wisemen and scribes. Wait, wait, wait. Who sends prophets?
That's right. God does. God does. God does. And now he's speaking in the first person is God. Yeah, isn't that amazing?
I just really had never paid attention to it before. Wait, wait, therefore, I, I will send you and it's not in Old Testament quotation marks or anything. No, no, he's speaking in the first person is God.
Yeah, it's really amazing right there. So you know, the statement about on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth from the blood of righteous Abel, which is back in clear back in Genesis four, right through the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barakiah, which is in Second Chronicles at the very end of the nation of Israel before they were deported to well, actually, in the Hebrew Bible, Second Chronicles is the is the last break. So it's like all the all the blood from the beginning to the end. Well, it's like A to Z.
It's what it is. It covers all of the Old Testament period. Yep, yep. And and the Old Testament period, if you're familiar with it is a is a is a series of prophets coming and warning God's people.
And sometimes they're listened to, but often most of the time they're not. And with increasing intensity, actually, so that by the time of Jeremiah, you know that the intensity of Jeremiah is called to repentance was, was consistent and profound and long before the nation was really for Judah, Jerusalem was finally carried off to Babylon earlier, the Assyrians had carried off the northern kingdom. Right. So here, we're actually seeing the embodiment of that parable he told about the the vineyard owner who left and left the tenant farmers in charge and sent his messengers several times over and over, they treated them all very poorly killed some, and then finally sent his son and did even worse to him. And so that's exactly what he's saying here. This, this is it.
This is it. God has been sending messengers to tell you about the truths of God. And all you've been doing has been killing the messenger. So you know, let me just harken back here for a minute to Second Chronicles 24, or 36, 15 and 16, because it almost sounds like Jesus was quoting it, but he wasn't exactly. So verse 15 of Second Chronicles 36, and the Lord, the God of their fathers sent word to them again and again by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets until wrath, the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, until there was no remedy. Therefore, he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, and then they were carried off.
They were carried off. Yeah. But that really is exactly what Jesus is describing here. He says it's gonna happen again.
Yep, yep. And here indeed is the Son of God himself telling him the truth, telling him in seven very direct and bold woes that you need to get your life together. You need to repent of these things. And these are his last warnings to them, hoping that they'll repent, but we know most of them won't. And actually, this is the last confrontive conversation that they have.
We'll get into it a little bit next week when it says he was going away from the temple. Yeah, like we're done here. Yep. Well, let's do one more passage and then we'll quit. What do you say? Okay. 37? You wanna read?
I'll read it, yeah. This is Jesus speaking. Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings and you were not willing. See, your house has left you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Wow. What a lament. What a lament. And although he knows that the Pharisees and the Sadducees are not listening to his woes, it doesn't mean that he's not emotionally struck by that. And here he laments over that. How often, very tenderly, he wanted to gather them together like a hen gathers a brood under her wings, but they just were not willing. They were not willing to allow him to have that compassionate approach to them.
They stiff armed him and they eventually killed him. And your house is left to you desolate. Desolate. You know, that's a kind of a veiled reference to the coming of the tearing down of the temple in 70 AD. Oh yeah. But your house is, you know, you're gonna be taken out of your house and it's gonna be left empty.
Yep, yep, yep. So what do you make of it when he says, I tell you you won't see me again until you say blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. They just had said that a week ago when he came into town. But not the Pharisees and the Sadducees. In fact, they told the people, Jesus, Jesus, you need to tone them down. Yeah, they're not saying the right things.
Yeah. And you know, this section right here, this lament is introduced in Luke 19 with Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. He sees it and he weeps and he prays this.
It is such a tender scene. And the whole idea, this metaphor of the hen gathering her brood, that's not unusual either. I mean you can find it in a couple of Psalms. And I wrote a couple now, Psalm 17 and Psalm 91 have it.
Real famous one, Isaiah 31. But it's such a tender picture of saying, I came here to be a compassionate caregiver to you. In fact, this is not a picture of a prophet. This is a picture of a Savior.
When you see this hand in the chicks and stuff like that. But they wouldn't acknowledge it. They wouldn't acknowledge it. And again, here he is displaying his compassion in this visit, this first coming of Jesus and not his judgment. So he's sorrowful about the fact that he wanted to love them and collect them together and all they wanted to do was argue with them and put them away and kill them like they did with the prophets.
It's sad. And we can see that the continual hostility of the religious, the right people, the religious leaders towards Jesus was based on their hostility toward God. They did not submit to God. And hearkening back to Cain and Abel, if you go back and read that story in Genesis, it's very clear that Cain was unwilling to be corrected by God. And his only option was to hate his brother and to do away with him.
That's right. Always the response of the unrepentant heart, the one who rejects God, rejects his correction, refuses to repent and has to do away with the righteous either by silencing them or murdering them all together. You have to silence the messenger by to silence the message. And that's exactly what the Pharisees were planning to do with Jesus. We just can't have this righteous one around.
He highlights our unrighteousness. You know, I use this picture of the hen gathering her brood under her wings with people all the time who are in conflict and struggle and stuff like that. I said, you know, in a way, Jesus is looking over your life and he's weeping and he's saying, I want to collect you together in my arms like a hen and her chicks. And are you willing to do that? Are you willing to accept that kind of comfort, that kind of nearness?
I mean, are you willing to do that? Because that's really what he's, he's come to give us life. And that's a great picture of what that life looks like, especially in the midst of terrible trauma and difficulties in life.
And so I use that a lot. You know, Jesus is just trying to collect you together like a hen and his chicks. Well, that set me in mind and you referenced Isaiah 30 a minute ago. Let me turn to it because I don't want to, I don't want to mingle it.
Yeah, I found it in 31. Well, okay, so I'm thinking of Isaiah 30 when the Lord says, Thus says the Lord God, this is verse 15, the Holy One of Israel has said, in repentance and rest you'll be saved. In quietness and trust is your strength, but you were not willing. And then it describes God lets them, if you want to run away on a horse, you want to trust in your own strength, go ahead until you are left as a flag on a mountain top and a signal on a hill, right?
Isolated, lonely at the end of your own resources. But look at the next verse, verse 18. Therefore, the Lord longs to be gracious to you. And he waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice. How blessed are all those who long for him. Oh, yeah. God is just waiting to come to the end of ourselves.
Right. And he doesn't impose himself on us. He waits for us to come to him. His arms are open. He wants to comfort you and protect you and hug you. You know, the Psalm 17, you know, keep me as an apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings. That's such a great picture.
It's so tender. And that's that's what Jesus wanted to do in his first coming and only some would respond to that invitation. Only some but the majority of the leaders said no, because you're not the Messiah. Yeah, he wasn't the one they wanted. They just would not do it.
I'll add one other thing is we're kind of closing. You know, the Jews will someday have their eyes open, and they'll see it, you know, in Romans 11, Paul says that all Israel will be saved. And they'll get it eventually. So this isn't Jesus, this isn't God abandoning the Jews. But at this first coming, they just don't recognize him. And as a result, what's going to happen in a short amount of time, they'll crucify Jesus and then some decades after that the Jerusalem be destroyed, and the temple will be destroyed, and they'll lose everything that they have right here. But his intention is for the Jews to come to faith in the Messiah. And so that's his heart. And that's why at this point, he cries, he weeps in Luke 19.
And here he laments over Jerusalem. Yeah, we'll come back next time we're going to continue in Matthew will be in Matthew 23. Or no, we're going to 24?
Maybe. Yeah, I have to take a look. But anyway, I think we're moving forward into 24. So come and join us next time as we walk through this difficult week with Jesus this Passion Week here on More Than Ink. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, morethanink.org. And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note. Remember, the Bible is God's love letter to you. Pick it up and read it for yourself and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. Speechless This has been a production of Main Street Church of Rhythm City.
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