Summary: Jesus asked the question to the Scribes and Pharisees who were going through life filling squares and never having the heart right with Him.
Today we are starting a new sermon series entitled: The Questions Jesus Asked.
Jesus had a way of asking questions to which He fully knew the answers. The question Jesus asked where for our benefit, not his. Jesus being divine, He is all knowing, so in a sense, His questions are rhetorical. God asked questions in the OT. Questions he asked in the garden were probing, not because God wanted to know, but he wanted us to know. God asked Adam:
Genesis 3:9 (NKJV) Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
And again God asked:
Genesis 3:11 (NKJV) And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
Later God asked Job a series of question. Job was demanding an audience with God to asked God why he was suffering, but God takes center stage and asked Job a series of questions:
Job 38:4 (NKJV) “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.
And God continues to ask Job questions for 3 chapters. Now Jesus comes and asked probing questions (like Father, like Son). Some question was for the intellect, others questions was to stir the conscience. Questions we will be examining over the next few weeks:
Mark 5:31 (NKJV) But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ”
We will explore what it means to touch Jesus.
Mark 4:40 (NKJV) But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
We will examine what does it really mean to fully trust in Jesus.
Matthew 20:32 (NKJV) So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
How would you answer?
We will conclude the series with the question Jesus asked Peter and all the disciples:
Matthew 16:15 (NKJV) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
What is important is how we answer that question.
Today we will start with a question Jesus asked that He expected no answer in response. This is a question most of the world does not get or understand, and but believe they have the answer. Jesus asks in our focal verses today: How Can You Escape the Condemnation of Hell?
Matthew 23:31–36 (NKJV)
In the military we had a term that we called “square fillers.” We would have a check-list of requirements and before each requirement or inspection item, there would be printed a little square . When each requirement was completed, you would check off the appropriate square. Flying, we would run the checklist, make sure all requirements were done for each phase of flight. As complete as the checklist were, the pilots still had to fly the jet. The checklists really didn’t cover everything.
The term came to mean meeting minimum requirements. You “fill the squares,” accomplished only what was necessary, and then it was time to do something else. This term was applied to when you were up for promotion. The question asked was “Did you fill all the squares?” If so, then you were eligible to be promoted.
The Pharisees and Scribes were “square fillers.” They insured that every “T” was crossed and every “I” was dotted, but their hearts were far from God. Jesus was angry and He had about all He could take from them. In Matthew 23, Jesus gives His seven woes to the Scribes (some translations will say teachers of the law) and the Pharisees. They were all about appearances, nothing in the heart. They were outwardly righteous. But they were like white-washed tombs, but full of dead men’s bones.
Matthew 23:27–28 (NKJV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
We are more like the Pharisees and Scribes than we would often admit. We’re at church whenever the doors open, we give generously, we put on our happy faces and pretend all is right with the world, whereas on the inside, our hearts are far from the Lord. We so often just go through the motion, “filling squares” convincing ourselves that we tight with the Almighty, when it’s been a week since we talked with Jesus and had an intimate moment with him. The scary thing is, and I hate to even ask the question, how many “Christians” really know what a personal relationship with Jesus really is? How many have experience intimate moments with the Savior? How many spend time alone with Jesus every day? We may look pretty on the outside, but what are we really like on the inside?