Summary: Idols we worship. Part 3 of 3.

Idols - part 3

Matthew 23:1-28

July 20, 2014

Well, today, we are going to end our 3 week look at the idols we have in our lives. Of course you don’t need to be reminder what today is. It’s Selfie Sunday! You need to know what I look like, just on the happenstance that you forgot! Even though you’re looking at me. Isn’t that a great picture. I never take good selfies. So, there you go. Post your photos on Instagram and tell everyone your pastor said it was okay! In many respects, it’s part of our idol worship.

While I joke about it, this has everything to do with idol worship. Because idol worship always starts and ends with a picture of ourselves. We’ve looked at worshiping our bodies, our pride and ego, entertainment, materialism, our happiness, our need to have control; and today we will end with a look at rules, religion and worship. Much of this will be tied together as I move through all three sometimes interchangeably.

When we think about Jesus, one thing we know for sure, Jesus loved the underdog, the outcast, the despised one. He had no problem being next to and talking to them, touching them, hanging out and eating with them. It’s THE greatest example we have of how to live our lives.

Now the people Jesus struggled with the most were the ones who were the most religious, they were the Pharisees. They were the kind who could recite scripture backwards and forwards, the ones who were always in the Temple, worshiping and going to meetings, and just trying to look like they were really religious.

Much of what Jesus said to the Pharisees was not complimentary. He often stepped on their toes. They didn’t like Jesus! He threatened their way of doing religion. And that was central to who they were. Really it was about themselves and control.

In Matthew 23 Jesus really goes at it with the Pharisees and scribes. In this chapter, Jesus gave 7 “woes” to them. I’m not going to read the entire chapter. But, listen to some of the words from Jesus as He hammers His points home ~

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat,

3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.

4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,

6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues

7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.

These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.

28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

You can see how angry Jesus was. More than just anger, I believe Jesus was so disappointed at how faith and religion were being practiced and led by the leaders. His words were harsh. They were in their face. And Jesus didn’t say this in a private meeting with the leaders. Verse 1 told us – Jesus said this to the disciples and the crowds surrounding him. This was a public indictment.

So, what can we learn from Jesus in this passage as it relates to idol worship?

The Pharisees made their laws into idols. The Jewish people had 613 commandments or laws - 365 said “you shall not.” The Pharisees used the law to their advantage when they could. If they could get out of helping someone, like in the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan, they would. They placed their traditions, rules and laws above the word of God.

This is why Jesus said, 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.

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