Summary: Christians be careful not to make the mistakes of the pharisees and try to make new believers fit YOUR mold of Christianity.
Jesus is talking to the Pharisees Matthew 23
Religious Fashion Shows
1Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. 2"The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. 3You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.
4"Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. 5Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. 6They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, 7preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called "Doctor’ and "Reverend.’
8"Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. 9Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of "Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. 10And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them--Christ.
11"Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. 12If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
13"I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.
15"You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.
16"You’re hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, "If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that’s serious.’ 17What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? 18And what about this piece of trivia: "If you shake hands on a promise, that’s nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that’s serious’? 19What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands? 20 -22A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.
23"You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment--the absolute basics!-you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. 24Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?
25"You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. 26Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.
27"You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. 28People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.
29"You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You build granite tombs for your prophets and marble monuments for your saints. 30And you say that if you had lived in the days of your ancestors, no blood would have been on your hands. 31You protest too much! You’re cut from the same cloth as those murderers, 32and daily add to the death count.
33"Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? 34It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation--and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.
35"You can’t squirm out of this: Every drop of righteous blood ever spilled on this earth, beginning with the blood of that good man Abel right down to the blood of Zechariah, Barachiah’s son, whom you murdered at his prayers, is on your head. 36All this, I’m telling you, is coming down on you, on your generation.