Sunday, January 30, 2011

Matthew 23: Seven Woes for a Modern Pharisee

    13 “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. [14] [b]

Sorry, but I don’t have time to hold open the door to the Kingdom of Heaven for people. I’m too busy earning my fortune, polishing my civic image, and being active in church. My goal is to have the most impressive obituary in town.

   15 “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.

What are you talking about, Jesus? I don’t lift a finger to convert anybody.

   16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

What I hold sacred is my own well-being. I tell the truth when I need to because I’ll be fired or sued if I don’t. Heaven, temples, and altars got nuthin’ to do with it.

   23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

“C’mon I go to church, I blog about the Bible five days a week, I don’t have time for justice and that other stuff. Anyway it sounds suspiciously liberal.”

   25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Who you callin’ blind, Jesus? Don’t you see what’s about to happen to you? You’ll never see me carrying any cross. I’m taking the right steps, slapping the right backs, saying the right things. I’m going places.

Man – sometimes I think I just don’t know you.

   27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Jesus, sometimes whitewash is beautiful. As long as no-one knows about my mistress and the money I’m making on the side, what’s the harm? Anyone who counts either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.

   29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

Jeremiah and I would have liked each other. Neither of us have anything good to say about anyone.

   33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

Is the world really so wicked? Except for martyred Christians in persecuted countries and jailed opponents of PC politics in the west, I can’t think of any shed blood of the righteous. Unless of course you’re all worked up about 60 million abortions….Anyway, since when am I their keeper? Anything I do for them is strictly “extra credit.”

   37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’[c]

All those Jews and Arabs killing each other in Jerusalem. Glad they’re not my problem. See you later, I've got important things to do and important people to impress, right here in the good old rock-solid U.S. of A.

No comments:

Post a Comment