What did I learn about Jesus?
- Jesus saved his most cutting words for the religious leaders.
- Jesus cares deeply that we do acts of justice, mercy and faithfulness.
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- The disciple-maker needs to be more imitatable by what he/she does than what he/she says.
- No disciple is greater than another.
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
Jesus started his preaching ministry in Matthew with eight blessings (beatitudes) upon the least likely, motley crew of listeners. He draws near the end of his preaching ministry with seven cursings, or “woes,” upon the least likely persons to receive such cursings, the spiritually elite. As shocking as his blessings were to those who were ill and poor, so shocking were his woes upon the spiritual upper crust of the Jews. As you read them, just imagine if you were a Scribe or Pharisee or Sadducee and were listening as Jesus said these things about you to the crowds.
As we have noticed, the battle between Jesus and the religious leaders has been ongoing and increasingly scathing. Here, his criticism reaches fever pitch… and REMEMBER, it is taking place right in the temple! Their stomping ground! Seems to me that the overarching criticism is, again, about the heart. They are scrupulous in their observance of the minutiae of the law (as they have interpreted them) but their hearts are false and awful. “Everything they do is done for men to see” (verse 5).
The doors to heaven they should be opening, they slam shut. They look great on the outside but are like a filthy cup that fouls the water poured into it. They are just like the murderers of the prophets who have gone before them. (Abel to Zechariah…was like saying the ‘A-Z of Jewish martyrs.)
All of us who are spiritual leaders… pastors, elders, deacons… must pay particular attention to these harsh words of the Lord. Are WE living lives of integrity that draw people to God instead of pushing them away—that model of compassion and kindness that reflects the heart of God?
Have a great day. Go make disciples!
“The problem is that in the heart of every person there is a basic rebellion against God, such that faced with God’s own Son, and his claim to be our rightful Lord and King, we refuse to submit. This basic rebelliousness can often remain undetected beneath genuine political concern for others and sincere religious endeavor.” (from Professor David Gooding, shared by elder Larry Bourland)