Summary: The chief priests were meticulous in making sure the "blood money" didn't go into the treasury while they were actively working on a murder. What are ways we see the small things while missing the big picture?
Diagnosing Spiritual Near-Sightedness: There is a “spiritual eye condition” that allows people to see small things clearly while being blind to big things.
- Matthew 27:6.
- References in Matthew to clear “eyes”: Matthew 6:22-23, 7:3-5, 13:15-16.
- We are going to go with that “vision” metaphor this morning.
- There is a spiritual blindness that allows people to do great evil in God’s name. There is a spiritual “eye condition” that allows people to be meticulous about certain small things while being oblivious on many big issues. We see an example here in our passage.
- Verse 6 is simply amazing in the impaired vision that it represents.
- The chief priests have hired perjured witnesses and plotted murder, yet in the midst of all that they are meticulous about following their rule that “blood money” could not be put into the Temple funds.
- This rule arises from Deuteronomy 23:18, which stipulates that income from prostitution was not to be brought into the Temple treasury to pay a vow. This is because the Lord detests prostitution. From that rule, the religious leaders had extrapolated rules that included the command that “blood money” couldn’t be put in the treasury.
- So the religious leaders are meticulous in obeying this tiny made-up religious rule while actively in the act of conspiring to murder an innocent man.
- For our purposes this morning, we use the idea of near-sightedness.
- Near-sightedness is the eye condition where someone can see clearly the things that are close to them but things far away are blurry. For this sermon, we’ll talk about seeing the small things (like a petty rule) and being unable to discern the big things (like the big picture of what God is up to).
- They have a horrible case of spiritual near-sightedness – they see clearly this small thing right in front of them while simultaneously being blind to the larger evil all around them.
- What is this spiritual “eye condition” that allows them (and so many others) to live this way without seeing the hypocrisy and evil? How can someone be so meticulous about meaningless religious trivia while being blithely obtuse to the evil and hypocrisy of their religious actions? How can someone’s spiritual awareness be so off? How can they so easily miss the forest for the trees?
- In a way, it’s easier when you have people who are doing evil and they know what they’re doing is wrong.
- That is not the situation here. I think it’s more sincere delusion than knowing hypocrisy.
- I believe these people deeply and wholeheartedly believe they are doing God’s will. I believe they think they are God’s representatives. I believe they are sure that God is pleased with their efforts. All of that makes this situation much messier and much more dangerous, because never do people do evil more boldly and enthusiastically than when they do in God’s name.
- I wish we could study this idea this morning as a historical idiosyncrasy. Sadly, though, this spiritual near-sightedness is just as prevalent today as it was back then.
- A clear example that’s been in the news lately is Westboro Baptist Church and their uncivil protests at military funerals. They clearly are misguided on multiple levels.
- Most of us, though, would protest: “I don’t do that!” Let’s look at some examples today of situations where an American Christian might be zealous on keeping a small rule while being oblivious to the larger picture.
a. Someone is mad at seeing a believer reading a Bible because it’s not the King James Version.
- Isn’t the big picture that the person is reading the Scripture?
b. Someone is eager to show their zealousness for God by voting to leave their denomination over some relatively minor theological disagreement.
- Isn’t the big picture that Christ wants the church to be one?
c. Someone will only worship in a church where only hymns are sung (or only where praise choruses are sung).
- Isn’t the big picture whether God is being praised?
d. Someone is quick to condemn a non-believer’s sinful action.
- Isn’t the big picture that God wants to see them redeemed?
e. Someone argues that real believers will love God enough to show up for three services a week.
- Isn’t the big picture of the Christian life more than sitting for an hour three times a week?
f. Someone trashes businesses in December because their employees aren’t saying “Merry Christmas.”
- Isn’t the big picture the rampant materialization of Christmas that we’re participating in by being in that business in the first place?
g. Someone breaking fellowship because the pastor interprets Revelation differently than they do.
- Isn’t the big picture living a life that is always ready no matter what the future holds?