Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Morning Cup of Tea: Chapter 23 Outwardly Righteous

In the last verses of Matthew 23, Jesus does not mince words. He is honest and straightforward, and I feel he is both angry and sad that people who are supposed to teach others about the Father have so much to learn themselves.  I once had a conversation with a friend. It's actually happened with a few friends. They've cited verse such as those found in this chapter to say that Jesus hates religion and this is why they do not go to church.  Jesus still loved the Pharisees, just as he loved everyone. What he hated was the self righteousness, the sin, the hypocrisy. He didn't want people to stop going to temple then --he went himself! --and he certainly does not wish for us to decide that we don't need the fellowship of other Christians. We all have the need to be loved, accepted, admonished in love, and the opportunity to do those things for others, and to be able to partake of the Lord's Supper, and sing, and otherwise worship with our fellow Christians. Yes, our faith is personal and personal worship is part of what God wants from us. He also wants us to gather together to worship. 
  Okay, back to chapter 23 of Matthew. As I said earlier, Jesus didn't tiptoe around the issue.  The Pharisees were big on cleanliness. They had rules about it. Listen to what Jesus had to say:
 25. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and the platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 
27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within filled with dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28. Even so, ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
 I don't think you can get any plainer than that. He wanted them to clean up the inside before they start worrying about outward appearance. That's a lesson for us all, too. And as a hospital and doctor  are the best for curing illnesses, the hospital for the soul is the church, and the Great Physician the best healer. 

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