Summary: Sermon #9 of 13 sermons on the Preaching of Jesus dealing with the sermon of 7 woes found in Matthew 23:1-39
The Sermon of Seven Woes
CHCC: March 25, 2012
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Jesus himself stepped up to this pulpit to preach? Suppose Jesus watched the way you lived your life this past week, and then came to preach in this pulpit today. What kind of sermon do you think we’d hear? Would it be kind and encouraging? Would it be a fire and brimstone sermon?
Most of Jesus’ sermons were full of compassion and encouragement. But the sermon in Matthew 23 broke the mold! His most scathing sermon was directed at the most unlikely audience. Imagine Jesus stepping up to the pulpit and starting this way:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! This was no typical 3-point sermon. Jesus gave not 1 … but 7 “woes” … and all of them were directed toward the most churchy of all church folks … the teachers and the Pharisees. It’s important for us to pay attention to this sermon because it shows what God cannot tolerate in His people! Today, we’re going to look at these WOES 2 by 2, starting in Matthew 23, verse 13.
Woe 1, 2 – Missionaries of Misery
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Matthew 23:13-15
Wow! Jesus didn’t ease into this sermon with a nice illustration or preacher-joke! Keep in mind that these Pharisees weren’t evil, demonic guys. They were religious men with a passion for the Word of God. They attended synagogue regularly, they tithed, prayed, and worked hard to teach people the Law of God. They were greatly respected in the Jewish community. They were even evangelistic. But according to Jesus, these self-proclaimed MISISONARIES brought nothing but MISERY to their converts.
When the Pharisees evangelized, they weren’t looking for people who didn’t know God at all. They were looking for people to convert to their “brand” of religion. Each Rabbi had his own “pet” theories and he wanted people to follow his particular sect of Judaism.
This is one of the biggest problems in the church today. William Barclay wrote, “The greatest of all heresies is the sinful conviction that any church has a monopoly on God or His truth --- or that any church is the only gateway to God’s Kingdom.”
Most cults fall into this category. Beware of any church or teacher who thinks they have a corner on the truth. Watch out for churches who teach that they are the only ones who teach the truth. If you want to go to heaven, you’d better follow their rules. These types of false teachers will try to control every aspect of your life. The message is, “Do everything our way or else.” Some people seem to want this kind of church, but it’s not the pattern Jesus taught.
This is one thing I appreciate about our church. We’re part of what is called the Restoration Movement – which started in the 1800’s. The
Restoration Movement had this founding slogan, “We’re not the only Christians; but we’re Christians Only.”
That’s what I admire the most about the movement that gave birth to our church congregation. We are satisfied to be simply Christians. Not hyphenated Christians, or denominated Christians. And certainly not the ONLY Christians. We preach Christ and the Bible. That’s enough for me; how about you?
Woe 3, 4 – Majoring in Minors
In the next 2 WOES, that Jesus attacked the religious leaders as “blind guides” and as “hypocrites” because they were MAJORING in the MINORS.
There were 2 religious rituals that Jesus attacked here: Religious Oaths, and Tithes. He objected to Pharisaic Oaths because there were nothing more than legal loopholes. It was all about “collateral.” If you swore by the Temple, that wasn’t binding because you didn’t own the Temple. But, if you swore by the “gold in the Temple” that WAS binding because maybe you could own some of the gold in the Temple. If you swore by the altar, you could lie all you want. But if you swore by the carcass on the altar, you’d better be telling the truth. In other words, the whole religious oath thing was so you could defraud unsuspecting Gentiles.
The second ritual Jesus attacked was Tithing. The Jews had three purposes for Tithes. 1 – Tithes for the upkeep of the Temple. 2 – Tithes for the personal expenses of religious feasts and festivals. 3 – Tithes for helping the poor and needy. The Pharisees were super meticulous about giving an exact Tithe, but they had no compassion or true generosity.