[“Woe to a Generation of Vipers”]
(Key word: Woe!)
Already in chapter 16 of Matthews’s account of Jesus his life the apostle wrote about Jesus warning them to be careful and to pay attention regarding the leaven (Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians (Matthew 16:6, 11, 12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1) or particular people who claim to be speaking in the name of God.
Today we start looking at chapter 23 of Matthew’s gospel where Jesus speaks directly to those who claim they are the only ones who have the right to speak about God and His commandments and demanded followship.
This chapter clearly shows the extent to which the disciples are viewed as Jews in relation to the nation, even though their master condemned the leaders who misguided the people and dishonoured Jehovah God by their hypocrisy.
To speak to the crowd and to His disciples, Jesus says:
“The scribes and the Pharisees have sat down in Moses’ chair”;
and though their behaviour was only hypocrisy, they had to follow them, as the interpreters of the law, yet in all that they spoke in accordance with it.
We find Jesus speaking to the multitudes and to his disciple in the most public manner.
First of all, Jesus acknowledges the official position and the orthodoxy of the leaders of the people, and therefore encourages his disciples to bear the fetters of the stricter statue even longer than by premature dropping the semblance of indiscipline (the temple falls soon enough) V. 36).
On the other hand, he recommends to the disciples the harmony of change with doctrine, fraternal equality and humble service (his, the Messiah’s, as the sole leader V. 10); that was the basis of all greatness in his kingdom.
In this chapter we shall come to see how certain people shall try to convince people how they can not come in the Kingdom of God in case they do not follow their teachings. Also in our present day we do find such teachers of religion, Pharisees and hypocrites who love to prevent ordinary people from entering the kingdom of God (v 14) or who set up a show, putting themselves in the spotlights, doing as if they are very devout people and saying ‘great prayers’.
Today we still find people who are more attracted to the writings and sayings of so called theologians instead of concentrating on the words of the Holy Scriptures. They let themselves being carried away by the many theological theories even when those would be not according the Bible texts. Often those church leaders want to have full control over their congregation and therefore make them afraid with all sorts of stories which are not in accordance with the Bible, or of taking certain texts to literally instead of reading in between the lines and seeing the essence of the text.
Matthew 23:1-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Prominence and Humility