Seven salutary woes, in Matthew 23:1-36, reduced Jesus to warning and weeping (23:37-39) as he approached the Holy City for His final moments of earthly ministry.
We could spend several days expounding these statements which shook the Jewish religious establishment. Perhaps Gentiles too can pick up a few crumbs of warning to make us weep over the state of our own sinful flesh as we cry for purer hearts.
Seven Shocking Statements
To sum up these shocks, let's ask a question: 'What, in a nutshell, are the sins unmasked by the Savior that lurk in the nature of every adamic sinner (reduced to six points)?'
- Pride - love of self-ease, self-adulation, and self-exaltation when praised as the straight-talking, gun-slinging, hard-hitting teacher of others when we refuse the same lessons and go easy on our own flesh (23:1-12).
- Zeal - false addiction to tradition blinds us to our own plight, leads others into a ditch, and spreads its cancer far and wide (23:13-15).
- Lies - covenants are our catchphrase but our oaths obfuscate on obedience: if our word is not our bond, and our vow is not made good, we show our ignorance of the God of truth in whose name we swear (23:16-22).
- Bribes - wads of petty cash or cool, huge, i-phone bank transfers are turned into a ruse for not doing some significant good (23:23-24)
- Filth - style and suits are employed to conceal inward dirt, while sanctimonious skins of psalm-singing are used to plaster over cracks of hidden, hedonistic, hellish, hankerings in our hearts (23:25-28).
- Hate - fists, rants, spite and spit are launched against the truth or against shepherd-hearted friends who are brave and kind enough to correct us or call us back in line (23:29-36).
Right Repentant Reaction
I'm sure you can all think of better headings for these warnings, but don't let my clumsiness result in your heedlessness - every man alive tends to (and should weep over) such Pharisaic traits.
This is our old man! This is our fallen, false, Pharisaic, flesh! This is the 'Old Adam', who by grace, through faith in the Last Adam (our Lord Jesus Christ - crucified and raised for us), we are called to put to death.
Glorious Golgotha Grace
There is glory, though, before we go from woe ...these were woes (or curses of the Covenant) that were mercifully and freely laid on the Redeemer as our guilt bearer.
As Jesus wept for Jerusalem He also took up His Cross of Tearful Terror - for within a few days He bore all these Pharisaic woes of ours to exhaust curse on the Cross.
Seven Sorrowful Supplications
It will probably be wisest to turn our Pharisaic woes into seven symmetrical pleas - maybe, on bent knees, we can utter the following cries (reduced to six):
- Give me Christ's own servant heart that mortifies self.
- Make me pant for the Kingdom and to point others to the Lamb.
- Grant me grace to speak truth from the heart particularly when difficult.
- Open my eyes to see the path of goodness, righteousness and mercy that you have called me to walk in each day in grace-inspired deeds.
- Purify my heart and drive all hypocrisy out - rid me of dirt and death.
- Fill me with love for all your saints and help me submissively heed rebuke.
The Nutcracker Sweet
What amazing kindness to know that your keenest woes, believer, have now been turned to bliss, in God's Covenant of Grace. Its oath has been eternally sealed to our curse-free conscience, in the precious blood of Christ - that is cause, from a purified heart, to sing Hallel-Psalms of praise!
Whether male or female, bond or free, young or old, rich or poor, Jew or Greek ...this is the Pharisaic Nut that, by the power of Gospel grace, through faith alone in Jesus, true believers will finally crack!