Sick of Religion? Week 8: Devotional Day 2
DAY 2 – Tuesday
Mark 11:17-18, Matthew 23:1-12
Who did Jesus offend in this passage? What was their response to his actions?
In the past few weeks of study, we have quickly learned that the scribes and Pharisees were not pleased with Jesus’s teaching. Why? “He taught as one with authority, not as the scribes.” Mark 1:22. He taught with authority, he cast out unclean spirits with authority, he forgave sins with authority. Up to this point, the scribes and Pharisees were the authorities in the Jewish religion. They enforced the laws, they taught what was right and wrong, they oversaw the religious acts of the people.
In the Matthew passage, however, we see Jesus expose their hypocrisy. Read the seven woes Jesus pronounces upon these men in Matthew 23:13-31. He calls them hypocrites and blind guides. He accuses them of being outwardly righteous, but being inwardly wicked. He says that they make it impossible for others to practice righteousness, and indeed, that anyone they manage to convert become as wicked as they themselves. He challenges their righteous acts done before people, while behaving without character in private.
So they set out to destroy him, because they feared him. There are several words for fear in the Bible. Some mean to revere someone, others mean to be afraid. The word here in the Greek is phobos, from which we get the word phobia. As you know, to have a phobia is to have a fear of something or someone. The religious leaders had fear of Jesus, because the authority with which he taught amazed the people. The people believed him, and he was challenging their own teaching, which would expose them for who they really were.
Who would Jesus offend today by his teachings? Who would be threatened by Jesus’s authority? Is there anything about Jesus’s teaching that you find hard to believe, hard to obey, hard to accept? Spend some time in prayer, thanking him for his authority in your life, and talking honestly with him about your reservations.