Sermons

Summary: A study in the Gospel of Matthew 23: 1 – 12

Matthew 23: 1 – 12

You can think it but don’t do it

23 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

I am not too much of a movie goer but there are some films that I will watch over and over. One of them is Smokey and the Bandit. (Only the original, not the other two spinoffs)

Jackie Gleason played an excellent role as sheriff Buford T. Justice. His pursuit of the Bandit is quite entertaining. He shuns help from other law enforcement officers so that he can personally apprehend the Bandit.

He is a southern gentleman with the ladies and at the same time has no problem in confronting all the guys he come across.

In composing this study, I thought of a great line he said to a bunch of juvenile delinquents who were rifling his son ‘Junior’s’ fiancé’s car.

After ruffing them up he tells them not to leave the crime scene until one of his deputy’s comes and deals with them. His last comment reminded me of the instruction our Lord Jesus gave to His disciples relative to the religious leaders. Sheriff Justice said to the three young thieves, ‘you can think it, but don’t you do it.’ Our Lord Jesus will say in His wonderful advice to His followers, ‘you can think of what they tell you to do, but don’t do what they do.’ (for their actions do not meet their words)

Having made clear that He has come to establish a new ‘congregation’ and a new ‘nation’, made up of the remnant of Israel who have believed in The Son of God Jesus Christ as the Messiah, The Lord Jesus will now reveal what is to happen to the old nation that has rejected Him, and why. He commences with a warning to His disciples against pride and hypocrisy in their new role as Teachers of His ‘church’ and follows that with His indictment of the Scribes and Pharisees whose behavior has guaranteed judgment on Israel. These were the men whom Israel had as their spiritual leaders.

What was said here was necessary. Such a huge change as the rejection of a people who are to be replaced by a remnant from among them who would form a ‘new group from all nations to join His flock’.

That is why here in chapter 23 we have our Master and King Jesus’ official indictment on those who, while being seen by many Jews as religiously the cream of the people of Israel because of their outward show of piety, and because they so carefully regulated their religious lives, were not seen by The Lord Jesus as fitted to the task. His purpose is to explain why the change is being made by God, and why He Himself has rejected them. He wants the Jews to know without any doubt that those religious leaders, to whom supremely they had looked for the truth about God, have failed and therefore will have to be replaced (21.33-44). And all would have agreed that if these were doomed, Israel also was doomed, for religiously they were the most respected men in Israel. This doom is what The Lord Jesus will then reveal in chapters 24-25.

Many find our Lord Jesus’ words to the Scribes and Pharisees difficult because they do not fit in with their picture of Who Jesus Is. But there is nothing here that The Lord Jesus has not said previously. The reason that we are brought to a sudden halt when we read it is because it is all portrayed as spoken at the same time, and therefore seems overwhelming. But that is what it is intended to be. It is the explanation of God’s final break with the old nation, and why Jerusalem must be destroyed.

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