A Devotion for 12 March 2021 Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord), the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“ ¶ But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. 16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? Matthew 23:13-17
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of 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. 29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:27-33; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
A simple reading of the above verses in which our Lord castigates the Scribes and Pharisees is sufficient to dispel any notion that our Lord was ‘politically correct’ or observed the ‘woke’ principles of discourse. He would probably be banned from Twitter and Facebook for the above remarks since those two resources hate the light of truth that exposes their efforts to destroy moral society along with freedom of speech. Terms such as hypocrites, blind guides, whited sepulchres, murderers of the prophets, serpents, and generation of vipers bound for hell – these might be considered even less than passive aggression to the modern-day wimp who knows little and avers to know all. Let us compare some property differences in our Lord and the Pharisees:
- The Pharisees thought appearance was everything. They would be happy to clean the outer vessel and leave the inward full of vile poisons. “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Matthew 23:26 But Christ would cleanse the inner man first, and then the outer. (see Psalms 51:7 and “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 The Pharisees were all about appearance and not substance.
- The Pharisee was self-righteous and boasted of his personal righteousness. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” Luke 18:11-12 But Jesus extolled us to deny self and live for others: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” Luke 9:23-35
- The Pharisee based his worth upon the rule of self-importance – a sadly obvious property among many modern professors of Christ. “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” Matthew 23:2-7 This is an overly obvious signal of modern day Pharisseism in which ministers insist on being called ‘father.’ “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Matthew 23:9 But our Lord measured the inward heart. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.” Matthew 7:24
- The Pharisees loved to argue the finer points of doctrine, and they emphasized the minors and ignored the majors. They would love to argue at exactly which point a grain of sand added to a molehill made it a mountain. We see the same today as pseudo theologians argue the arcane infinitum but seldom mention a line of Scripture to support the argument. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Matthew 23:23 Love eliminates the argument of how we must conduct ourselves one to another. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35 Jesus loves us and never spoke harshly to a poor sinner.
- The Pharisee valued himself as being above his charges. He loved to make additions to the Law and Ordinances that rendered them impossible to be obeyed; yet, the Pharisee bore little of the burden he laid upon the shoulders of his victims in religion: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Christ rather bore our burdens for us all the way to Calvary. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Psalms 55:22 and “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 Would it not be wonderful if more Christian ministers were like the latter instead of the former? I do know some who are, but these are very rare.
- The Pharisee boasted of his earthly descent from Abraham. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Matthew 3:7-9 Jesus, on the other hand, emphasized our relationship to God the Father: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-45
- The Pharisee would not deign to go near or touch the sinner. “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” Matthew 9:10-11 but Jesus not only associated with sinners to draw them near to God, but even touched the sinner such as the leper overspread with the sores and boils of leprosy. “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” Luke 15:1-2 Instead of considering what they could do to help, the Pharisees withdrew in self-righteous conceit while the King of Kings and Lord of Lords supped with them, healed their infirmities, had pit on them, and forgave them their sins.