The Guilty Generation: Matthew 23:34-36

The Guilty Generation: Matthew 23:34-36
““34) Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35) so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36) Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭34‬-‭36‬
This generation of Jewish religious leaders carried extra condemnation. They not only crucified the Messiah, but they also launched the bloody persecution against the early Christian church and it’s leaders. They perpetrated the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:54-60), the killing of the Apostle James (Acts 12:2), and the arrest of Peter. (Acts 12:3-19)
Much of the violence against the early church was carried out by them. (Acts 8:1-3) There is no record of the full amount of suffering and human blood shed by these religious leaders, but it was surpassed only by the Roman persecution itself that eventually came.
In verse 35, Jesus said the blood guilt of all the righteous from Able (Genesis 4:6-8), to Zechariah the priest (2 Chronicles 24:20-21) was going to be poured out on this generation. Why? What is the connection?
When John 8:44 and John 10:10 are viewed together, we discover that Satan is ultimately behind all death and violence; especially aimed at the righteous. This will culminate with the antichrist and his violent persecution of both Israel and Christians in the end times. They were willing partners with Satan.
But why would generation of religious leaders carry more guilt? Because they crucified the Messiah! They were willfully blind and ignorant to the volume of prophecies pointing to the Messiah in the Old Testament. Furthermore, they closed their eyes and ears to the manifold signs, wonders and teachings of Jesus during His public ministry.
In a sense, the book of Matthew was written as a formal charge against the Jewish religious leaders of that generation. They chose to ignore the evidence and conspire with the devil in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Read Matthew 27:22-26. Look carefully at verse 25; “And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and our children!’” Jesus granted their request.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe to the Stench of Death: Matthew 23:27-28

Woe to the Stench of Death: Matthew 23:27-28
““27) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28) So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭27‬-‭28‬ ‭
Jesus now becomes extremely graphic about the inner moral decay of the Pharisees and religious leaders. He compares them to magnificent and ornate sepulchers that were carved and painted outwardly to appear beautiful, but when opened up were full of decaying bones and rotting flesh. This description could not be more graphic.
The pugnacious nature of this comparison can be illustrated by John 11:39 when Jesus ordered them to remove the stone from the tomb of Lazarus; “… Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” It was unimaginable. Death stinks.
But this was exactly what Jesus was saying about the scribes and Pharisees in this seventh woe. Outwardly they looked magnificent, but inwardly they were putrid and decaying. They pretend to be righteous, but inwardly were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
This picture of religion is the opposite of what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ produces. The Holy Spirit imparts inward life and not death to the born-again believer.
Listen to how Paul described the believer in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16; “14) But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15) For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16) to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” Paul compared Christians to an aroma of life. Jesus compared the Pharisees and scribes to an aroma of death. They were the stench of death!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global ‭‭

Wow To The Filthy Inward Cups: Matthew 23:25-26

Wow To The Filthy Inward Cups: Matthew 23:25-26
““25) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26) You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭25‬-‭26‬
This woe exposes the weakness of the Law itself. It was good at making the outside look good, but it did nothing to cleanse and change the human heart. The inside was still sinful and dirty. Conforming to outward legalism does not affect the inward greed, lust and self-indulgence.
Paul touched on this inherent weakness of the Law in Galatians 3:21-22; “21) Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22) But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
The problem was that the outward Law could not impart new life to the inward spirit of man. It made the outward look good, but the inward was untouched.
This woe that Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees was the first exposure of this principle. They tried desperately to arrive at self righteousness through the Law but could not change their own human nature. They were religious but lost.
They looked like clean cups outwardly, but inwardly they were full of robbery and self indulgence. You can wash the outside of a pig and dress it in a tuxedo, but inwardly, it is still a pig. The outward bath and nice suit does nothing to change the inside nature of a pig.
So it was with the Pharisees and the Law. They conformed outwardly, but inwardly they were a mess. Rigid legalism does nothing to cleanse the inside of the cup. Jesus exposed the inward filth of the human heart.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe To The Religious Profit Reapers: Matthew 23:23-24

Woe To The Religious Profit Reapers: Matthew 23:23-24
““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭23‬-‭24‬
Jesus now looks at the practice of tithing. Many believe the tithe in the Old Testament amounted to 10% of the annual income, but this was actually collected three separate times annually. Numbers 18:20-24 points out that 10% was given to the Levites to support their temple services. Deuteronomy 14:22-24 says that another 10% was paid to the service of the sanctuary, commonly in cattle or grain. Then Deuteronomy 14:28-29 shows that every 3rd year another 10% was given to the poor to be eaten in their own dwelling. Altogether, nearly 1/3 of the property of the Jews was devoted to religious service by the Law. This was besides the voluntary offerings that were made.
The mention of mint, anise and cummin becomes intriguing in the text. These were herbs of little value and not considered part of the produce of the land mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:22, but the Pharisees required these as well. They were very meticulous in counting the tithe, but very sloppy with righteous living.
Notice the contrast Jesus set up in Matthew 23:23. They did well with eternal tithing, in fact the bigger tithe became an expression of pride and social status among the Jews. Refer to the story of the poor widow in Luke 21:1-4. The pious religious leaders would linger close to the treasury trying to quickly calculate what was given in the tithe to see who was greatest.
However, Jesus pointed out that they neglected weightier inward provisions of the law that included justice, mercy and faithfulness. Religion was reduced to an external show that did nothing to change the heart.
Thus Jesus applied a common proverb to the Pharisees. They were guilty of straining out gnats but swallowing camels. Some provisions of the Law like tithing they watched closer than modern IRS agents, but the important things of justice, mercy and faithfulness were totally ignored.
Do you see what was happening? They were extracting every denarius from the tithe of the poor, because from it they were compensated, but they closed their eyes to justice and mercy toward the orphan, widow and alien. This is where the previous charge Jesus made in Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47 becomes so grievous. They were padding their own pockets while exploiting the poor. They were devouring widows houses.
Though not stated in the text, they may have excused themselves from paying tithes on what they received as support from the tithes of the people. They were not farmers. They did not have crops or cattle from which to tithe.
No wonder Jesus called them hypocrites. They were not promise keepers, they were profit reapers. They had cashed in on the tithing system. It had become a scam. They were taking the cream off the top for themselves. Do you see the weight of this Woe Jesus pronounced against them?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe to Religious Truth Benders: Matthew 23:16-22

Woe to Religious Truth Benders: Matthew 23:16-22
““16) Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 17) You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18) And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 19) You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20) Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21) And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22) And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭16‬-‭22‬ ‭
Jesus now exposes the degree of superstition practiced by the Pharisees. Instead of being bound by their words they made degrees of binding oaths. For example, if a person swore an oath by the temple it was nothing, but if he swore by the gold in the temple, he was obligated. (Vs 16-17) Jesus pointed out the utter foolishness of the whole system of oath making that empowered truth bending.
They were like blind guides for other blind people who were constantly adding new rules as the game went on. Their words could not be trusted. They did whatever they pleased. They applied the Law to others, but they became a law unto themselves. There was no solid foundation under what they taught, how they lived and how it applied to themselves. They became religious truth benders.
Instead of clearly and truthfully representing God and His Word, they used their position to rule and exploit people. They twisted and changed things to match their own objectives and excuse themselves of any wrong or fault. They used their positions as religious leaders to control and manipulate people. Jesus pronounce a woe on these religious truth benders.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe to Religious Proselytizers: Matthew 23:15

Woe to Religious Proselytizers: Matthew 23:15
““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭15‬
This woe is directed toward making followers of self rather than followers of God. The Pharisees were committed to traveling far and wide to find a student, but then they would turn them into disciples of hell instead of disciples of heaven. Religion can be intoxicating.
Saul of Tarsus is a prime example of this system. He was young and zealous and was surpassing his contemporaries in what he thought was service of God, but it led him down the path of becoming a mercenary. He oversaw the stoning of Stephen as recorded in Acts 7:54-8:1. Then he orchestrated a ferocious persecution against the early Christians. (Acts 8:1-3) The entire time, he was deceived into thinking that he was serving God!
His whole understanding of the Law was bent around justifying his actions. (See Philippians 3:4-6) His devotion to “religion” made him an enemy of God. His story stands as an example of this woe Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees. They were religious, but throughout the four gospels they were the critics and enemies of Jesus. They eventually crucified Him!
Saul’s conversion is recorded in Acts 9:1-9. When Jesus appeared to him, he posed the question; “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Another way of asking that question might be; “Saul, Saul, why are you fighting against God?”
But wait, Saul was devoutly religious. He had volumes of zeal. How could someone so sincere be so deceived? How did he get so far off track?
We could ask the same question of many religious zealots today. Pick whichever world religion you want and I will show you many proselytes of hell. Like Saul, they lead the charge against the gospel and the true God. They feed on the blood of born-again believers. They may be devout, religious and sincere… but they are tragically wrong. This has been the case throughout history.
“Blind religion” is Satan’s playground. He uses it to deceive people and obscure the truth. It is bathed in the blood of the martyrs. So what is the answer?
It boils down to the simple gospel and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s what converted Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul. That is the narrow gate that every true child of God must enter through into heaven. (See Matthew 7:13-14) Don’t let anyone or anything block your way through that gate! Woe to the religious proselytizes!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe to Religious Predators: Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47

Woe to Religious Predators: Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47
“[14) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭14‬ ‭
Notice the unique markings on this verse. When that occurs, it is an indication that this verse does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. Later versions of the Gospel of Matthew may have borrowed this verse from Mark 12:40 or Luke 20:47. Notice that both of those Gospels include the charge that the scribes and Pharisees made a habit of devouring widows houses. What does that mean?
Notice that this eastied to the idea of making long prayers for appearance sake. This may have been similar to the practice in the Catholic Church of selling indulgences. These unscrupulous religious leaders would sell their services to say a Mass or pray departed loved ones out of purgatory. They played on the emotions of the widow who would pay huge sums of money to ensure that their loved ones would be spared suffering.
History during the Middle Ages is full of tragic examples where the church literally devoured the full estate of widows. They were easy prey. Biblical ignorance has been exploited by religious leaders throughout history. I include this merely as an example.
It appears that the scribes and Pharisees may have had a similar practice. Jesus was exposing and condemning them. Their long prayers for appearance sake may have been sold to widows for a similar reason. The whole of Scripture gives strong warnings against exploiting widows and orphans.
2 Timothy 3:6 hints that false teachers also preyed on weak women for sexual exploitation. They would “enter into households” and captivate weak women. Though the word “widow” is not used in the verse, it is not unreasonable. They were very vulnerable and therefore “weak.” This kind of exploitation and spiritual abuse is strongly condemned in the Bible.
The addition of this “woe” in Matthew 23:13 has strong biblical foundation. Woe to any religious leader who uses their position to exploit widows or prey on women and children. The condemnation Jesus pronounced on these religious predators is justified.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe To The Gatekeepers: Matthew 23:13

Woe To The Gatekeepers: Matthew 23:13
““13) But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭13‬ ‭
Jesus was standing in the temple after being tested by the scribes and Pharisees who were seeking to discredit Him. As He was speaking to the multitudes, He pronounced eight woes against the religious leaders of the Jewish people. These were His formal judgements against them. We shall take time to look at each of them in depth.
He opens verse 13 by calling them hypocrites. This word was borrowed from Greek theater. It specifically related to the mask warn by an actor to switch characters or roles during a play. Jesus was accusing them of being fraudulent religious leaders. Jesus was taking their mask away in this chapter and exposes their true nature. They were pretending to represent truth, but they were filled with lies and deception. They were misleading the people.
James warned in James 3:1 that teachers and leaders will incur stricter judgement. They are the gatekeepers of truth and if they get it wrong, God will hold them accountable. The eight woes here in Matthew 23:13-36 are emphasizing the guilt of the religious rulers and their pending damnation before God. Jesus was warning the people not to follow them.
The first woe against them is found in verse 13. They were shutting off the kingdom of heaven from men. What does this mean?
Remember how the public ministry of Jesus began? According to Matthew 4:17; He began preaching and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus came as the Messiah to announce the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the inauguration of a new system that was promised throughout the Old Testament. He fulfilled all the prophecies. He came as the Lamb of God to fulfill the Law and redeem humanity. He was ushering in a new era of salvation. The kingdom of heaven was at hand.
But, the religious leaders rejected Him! As Matthew 23:13 says, “they shut off the kingdom of heaven from man.” They not only ignored the Old Testament Scriptures; they openly fought against acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah. They were intended to be the heralds of truth, but instead they actively tried to shut and lock the gate to the new dispensation of salvation through faith in the Messiah. They were fighting against God!
They did not embrace Jesus as Messiah themselves and they actively opposed and persecuted anyone who was seeing the light for themselves. The gatekeepers were desperately trying to shut and lock the Messiah out! Woe to them! This is a serious indictment against them!
This verse now makes sense. What a tragedy! Their condemnation was justified. But wait, many pastors and religious leaders are doing the same thing today. They are twisting Scripture, obscuring truth, teaching false doctrines, denying the gospel and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, condoning and promoting ungodly living and persecuting those who stand for the truth. They have no spine or backbone as gatekeepers of truth.
Take a moment and read 2 Timothy 4:1-8. Paul pronounced this same warning against any pastor or teacher who distorts the gospel and promotes ungodly living. These modern enemies of the truth stand with the scribes and Pharisees and deserve eternal guilt and damnation. Woe to them!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Worship of Self: Matthew 23:6-12

The Worship of Self: Matthew 23:6-12
“6) They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7) and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8) But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9) Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10) Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11) But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12) Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭6‬-‭12‬
Jesus proceeded to unpack the next problem with the Pharisees. They climbed into the seat that John called “the boastful pride of life.” (Read 1 John 2:15-17) This can be summarized as the “Position Sins.”
They viewed value and status in life by earning degrees, climbing the corporate ladder, gaining titles and being in positions of power and influence. They demanded people to honor them because they were ordained as a Rabbi, became a recognized teacher or influential leader or gained the office of a chief priest or scribe. This power grab is a dead end road.
Beware my friend; true significance in life comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ and not worldly status. Degrees, titles and positions do not crown a person with value. God looks at the heart.
Do you have righteous character? Are you filled with honesty and integrity? Do you have a servants heart? Is your relationship with God real, sincere and full of grace and godly wisdom? Are you walking in the Spirit and bearing fruit for the glory of God? Do you serve to be noticed by men or is your life full of secret deeds of goodness known only by you and Jesus?
These are important questions. They separate godly men and women from the Pharisees Jesus was exposing in this text. Beware of self promotion and let God do the promoting in your life.
Paul captured the essence of Matthew 23:6-12 in his own testimony recorded in Philippians 3:4-11. As a former Pharisee, he had embraced a self promotion value system. He was gaining fame above his contemporaries… until he met Jesus Christ in personal salvation. Knowing Jesus radically changed His entire value system. It put him on a new path. His new ambition and goal in life became knowing Jesus Christ and sharing Him with others.
This pursuit filled all the voids in His life. It completed him. He became so servant minded that God used him to literally change the course of human history. How did it happen? Instead of focusing on self, he made Jesus Christ His consuming focus.
If you are stuck in self promotion mode like the scribes and Pharisees… Stop! Hit the brakes! Repent! Run to Jesus Christ and embrace Him as your first love. Those who are lovers of self will crash and burn. The worship of self is the highest form of idolatry.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Jesus In The Judgment Seat. Matthew 23

Jesus In The Judgment Seat. Matthew 23
“1) Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2) saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3) therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4) They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. 5) But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6) They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7) and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭1‬-‭7‬
As we start this chapter, a little flashback to Matthew 7:1-2 may be in order. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned not to judge lest you be judged. Matthew 22 was comprised primarily of the Jewish religious leaders testing and judging Jesus. All of the leaders of the Jewish people had become open critics. They were preoccupied in fault finding.
In Matthew 23, Jesus returns the favor. The chapter is long and the indictments are many. They were full of hypocrisy. We will proceed slowly so as to let His case against them slowly build.
In Matthew 23:1-7, Jesus accused them of hypocrisy in their teaching of the Old Testament Law. They had seated themselves in the chair of Moses. They most likely stood for the reading of the Law, then sat to explain the Law to the people. This was a sign of authority.
As He opened this chapter, Jesus pointed out that the scribes and Pharisees had four basic follies. First, they would teach one way and then live another way. Second, they would tie up heavy loads for the people to carry with taxes, sacrifices, and detailed obligations from the Law but then excuse themselves. Third, they would dress the outside with extravagant garments including phylacteries with long portions of the Law written out and then totally neglect their inward self. Finally, they would parade around in public seeking to be noticed and honored by others and then totally despise and even shun other people around them.
These are traps of pride and self promotion common to all in leadership. The first shift is from focusing on God to focusing on self. The second shift is from obeying God to becoming a self authority. The third shift is from serving others to becoming self-serving. The final shift is putting self on a pedestal and becoming totally blind to God and others.
By verse seven, Jesus was only part way through His opening argument and tension was building fast. Blood pressures were rising. Faces were becoming red with anger. And, it was about to get far worse.
Let’s step back and make a broad observation that will help us understand Matthew chapter 23. Note that Jesus observed that the scribes and Pharisees had seated themselves in the chair of Moses. It is helpful to note that Moses had two seats. First, he occupied the legislative seat where God used him to write and teach the Law. This is the seat the scribes and Pharisees annexed for themselves. But second, Moses also occupied a judgement seat where God used him to judge the people and apply the Law.
In Matthew 23, Jesus gave a foretaste of His future role of sitting in the Judgement Seat. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul warns that we will all one day appear before the judgement seat of Christ. Rather than cheering and celebrating the way He handled the scribes and Pharisees, it might be wise to preview yourself in their sandals. This small exercise might spark a personal revival!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global