Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. Matthew 23:13
Read: Luke 11:44
Listen: Luke 11
The Pharisees led the religious life of Israel. They carried significant influence and set the tone for the country. They mattered. The Pharisees thought they were leading people closer to God and helping them grow. Instead, they were burdening people with religious ritual and leading them away from Jesus. Jesus’ woe about unmarked graves is all about this. Touching a dead body was about as religiously unclean as you could get. It required isolation from the community and a process for restoration. Jesus tells the Pharisees they are isolating people from God (Matthew 23:13).
We still do this today as we focus on religious activity. We can think we aren’t a Christian if we don’t do check all the boxes. Yet, often the people who can aren’t people we want to spend time around. They might be unfriendly, full of pride or selfish. Our neighbors, co-workers, friends and kids can see through our externals. When that happens, it isn’t a neutral impression on those people. It is negative. The picture of a Christian they get is not something they want. Or, just as bad, we may be leading someone to believe that following Jesus is checking a bunch of external boxes, just like the Pharisees did.
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
Reflect on where you are like the Pharisees. Jesus called the Pharisees out for not being generous. He called them out for not loving God and caring about justice. He called them out for trying to make themselves important. He called them out for making following God different from what it really is. Consider which of these you are most likely to do and ask God to help you grow in that area.
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