Summary: Jesus did something no one else had done...He stood up to the religious bullies that were leading people astray. There’s much we can learn about hypocrisy here. Link inc. to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint.

Unmasking the Hypocrite

Matthew 23:1-39

This is Jesus’ last public message before He dies on the cross. It is stunning...a scathing denunciation of false religion and hypocrisy.

Let’s set the scene: Jesus is speaking to 3 groups of people...

• A multitude

• The disciples

• The scribes and Pharisees

Talk about name calling, Jesus holds nothing back! Bold and courageous, He calls them fools, snakes, vipers, blind guides, and 7 different times He calls them hypocrites. They are wearing masks, and He pulls them off. I have told you before [ch. 15, Truth or Tradition] that the Greek word for hypocrite is a term from the world of Greek drama, meaning the mask wearer. They come to church appearing to be one thing, but at home they are entirely different. They are religious play actors. Jesus demanded sincerity and reality. “Get Real” is how we would say it today.

v. 1-12 An EXPLANATION to the Crowd

v. 13-36 A CONDEMNATION of the Scribes and Pharisees

v. 37-39 A LAMENTATION over Jerusalem

I. Explanation to the Crowd

This is to the crowd, so they will understand the flaws in the teachings of the Scribes and Pharisees.

Flaw #1: They had a false concept of authority.

v. 2-3 “Moses’ seat” = they had assumed authority that was not their own. They had their own list of rules not found in the Bible, which they called the Traditions. That’s wrong, but more wrong is that they didn’t follow their own rules, they were hypocrites!

Flaw #2: They had a false concept of ministry.

v. 4 Their idea of ministry was loading people down with rules and regulations, which made life a drudgery. They loved feeling superior and keeping their people beaten down.

I’m happy to report that Jesus wants Christianity to be a blessing, and not just a burden...a feast, not a funeral!

Flaw #3: They had a false concept of greatness.

v. 5-12

v. 5 Phylactery = a leather box they tied around their forehead or forearm, w/ scriptures written on parchment inside. They had taken literally the command of...

Deuteronomy 6:8

8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

Deuteronomy 11:18

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

But to show off, they made their phylacteries bigger and bigger, like they were more spiritual!

Ill.—Bro. Mike and I want to see who is the most spiritual...I have my little Bible here, and he has his bigger one, so I have to outdo him and I get our family Bible from off the coffee table and start preaching with it. He comes the next week pulling a red wagon full of Bibles and commentaries, so I have to purchase Thomas Nelson Publishing just to win!

v. 5 borders = this was a border of blue around the hem of their garments.

Numbers 15:38

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:

This was a reminder that they could have a heavenly walk while here on earth. It was a good idea, but they just had to make their blue ribbons bigger and bigger! The pig in Charlotte’s web won the blue ribbon, but that was for being humble!!

Joke—man snored badly, dr. advised wife to tie a ribbon around his nose during the night, she found some that was blue and tried it that nite, and it worked. He woke up, looked in the mirror, and there it was. She walked in behind him and asked, how was your night last night? He said, “I don’t even remember where I went, but I won first place!”

But these guys were just religious show offs.

v. 6 They wanted to sit on the platform w/ the dignitaries.

v. 7 Rabbi = “my great one”. They wanted this honor. Don’t call me Phil, they said, if we’re in public, call me ‘my great one’.

I don’t care for the term Reverend, because the Bible says, “reverend is His name” [Psalm 111:9...He is due reverence...I am not! If I ever get my Doctorate of Divinity I don’t want to be called Dr. Shirley.

Joke—“There once was a preacher named Tweedle, who refused to accept his degree, he said it’s bad enough to be Tweedle, without being Tweedle, D.D.

The Pharisees loved the title, but didn’t want to do the work to earn it.

v. 8-10 Here we see Jesus condemning the use of 3 titles: rabbi, father, and master. Can you think of any who are in violation of this?

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Arne Hansen

commented on Jan 22, 2008

This sermon is for our day and age. In a world where pagans point at Christians and call us hypocrites, the Bible deals with who the real hypocrites are. Thank you Pastor Jerry. Be blessed.

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