Mat 23:25-28 NKJV - 25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 "Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew chapter 23 begins with the last public sermon of Jesus just days before He went to the cross. He told His disciples that when they went to Jerusalem He would be put to death, so He clearly knew the end was near. It's interesting to me that after a three year ministry that was filled with love, grace, mercy, healing, and forgiveness, this final address , is one of judgement. Speaking to the multitudes and His disciples (notice the distinguishment the scripture makes in verse one. A disciple is a follower of Jesus, while the multitudes are made up of the curious, the spectator, the fans and the foes, but they are not followers. So why this message of judgement? First, as a warning. To tell His disciples, and the multitudes, when it comes to the pharisees to do as they say, not as they do. To no longer be deceived by these hypocrites.
Jesus also delivered this message to warn the religious leaders that they were just blowing it and to give them opportunity to repent. The opening scriptures to this reflection describe them as putting on a show. Presenting themselves as something they were not. Inside they were filthy, rotten, but their outward appearance was all about convincing others how righteous they were. It's so easy for us to look at them and condemn.
What about us? Do we lack authenticity? Do we walk the walk, or are our lives really all talk? If people could see your heart would they be surprised? Would it lead them closer to Jesus, or would it lead to your shame? Are you a disciple or do you stand with the multitudes? Following Jesus means our inside matches our outside. Evangelize with and without words. Let the way you live your life be the evidence of a changed heart. Be a true disciple!
This morning we experienced a moving of the Holy Spirit that was amazing! First we read in Matthew 22 about our Father's desire for us to all be apart of the wedding feast for His Son. As Jesus answered the interrogation of the religious leaders of the day He spoke to them in parables. Earthly stories laid alongside heavenly truths.
Here He spoke of a certain King that was preparing for the wedding of His Son. He sent servants out to invite the chosen guest, but they were not willing to come. An absurd response to an invitation to a royal wedding. Just as absurd as rejecting our invitation to come to Jesus. Other invites went out, "But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. (Matt 22:5 NKJV) They were too busy with other things. Others seized the servants, treated them spitefully, and even killed others. It would be understandable if the wedding was cancelled, or changed to a small family event, but the King, not willing for the wedding hall to be empty, continued to invite....[Mat 22:9-10 NKJV] 9 'Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' 10 "So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding [hall] was filled with guests.
How faithful are we in extending the invitation for others to come to Jesus? How quick are we to give up? When at first they're not willing? When an excuse is given about work or being too busy? Our God continues to invite you today. But the parable ends in verse 24 where it says, "For many are called, but few [are] chosen." Matt 22:24 NKJV The invitation goes out to all, but not all are chosen. In verses 12 and 13 Jesus tells us that The Father, the King in the parable, examined the guests and one was found without a wedding garment. When he had his chance to "make his case" before the King He was speechless. When faced with the righteousness of God, with the rightness of his justice, he had nothing to say, he didn't give him a piece of his mind, didn't work out his own deal, but rather, [Mat 22:13 NKJV] 13 "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast [him] into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Many are called, but few are chosen. Rather than debate sovereignty of God vs. free will of man, just read the scriptures, the Bible says both. If you want to know if YOU are chosen, just chose Him friend. I assure you that you won't be rejected. You will have a place at the wedding feast that He has prepared. It's not a potluck, He's done the work. You are invited.
I began this mentioning a powerful work of the Holy Spirit this morning. It began during our morning prayer before the service, continued on through our worship in song, and concluded with several receiving freedom and victory as God destroyed the chains of fear that were holding several in bondage. You can listen to our morning service in its entirety under our recent teaching section under the media tab above. Grace and Peace!
This morning we covered familiar ground, the Triumphal entry of Christ in Matthew chapter 21. Have you ever stopped to consider how much of the gospels cover the final week of the 33 years Christ dwelt among us? They all vary in length. John devotes nearly half, Mark a third, in total if you add all of the chapters of the gospels together the passion week covers a third. It is a point of emphasis.
It is so important to consider the mindset of Jesus as he rode humbly into Jerusalem. In the previous chapter, he tells his disciples, what was soon to unfold. [Mat 20:17-19 NKJV] 17 Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, 18 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 "and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again."
This was no ordinary passover. Jesus, following the will of His Father, was laying His life down to pay the price for your sins and mine. As He entered the city, he saw what men had turned what belonged to His Father into. Mat 21:12-13 NKJV - 12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.' "
If you're familiar with the scriptures, you may remember that this was not the first time that Jesus cleaned house at the temple. In John chapter 2, just three years prior, we read of a similar scene. Jesus made a whip of chords, and drove the money changers and thieves out of the temple. He poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. As dramatic as this may have been at the time, in our chapter today we see that just a short time later, they had set up shop again. No matter how big of an impact Jesus had had on them one day in the past, they were no longer following His instructions as the tables had once again been set up!
It's easy for us to look upon them and judge or criticise. How could they claim for themselves what belonged to God? How could they so blatantly disregard His desire for His temple? Or so quickly forget HIs commands?
What about us? Have we forgotten the same things? Have we mistaken the building in which we worship for the Temple of God? Consider the words of Paul to the Corinthian church....1Co 3:16-17 NKJV - 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
We are the temple. So the challenge gang is this: How would Jesus respond to an inspection of you, His temple? Have you allowed "tables" to be set up that would be displeasing to Him, or bring dishonor? Is there a table of bitterness in your heart? A table of self indulgence or a table of pride? What tables would He desire to overturn in you, His temple, for your good? Tables that are getting in the way of His best for you, His will for you?
As we continue to go through His Word together, allow His Word to go through you. Ask God to reveal the tables He would overturn and let Him cleanse you, that your life would bring Him glory!
Grace and Peace.
Have you ever thought about what it must have been like to raise the Son of God? To never to have to deal with the "terrible two's," at least with your oldest? In Luke 1:48 in the NLT, Mary describes herself as lowly. "For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed." That was Mary. Up until the point that the angel Gabriel appeared to her, she was just a young girl in the shadows, probably no more than 14 or 15 years old, by all practical purposes in this world, she was a nobody. In an instant, her life changed for all of eternity.
Reflecting on Mother's Day this year, I began to wonder about what Mary knew and when she knew it. She knew Jesus was special, that he was miraculously conceived through the Holy Spirit, but did she know he would have to die for the sins of the world, your sins, my sins, and even her own?
What did she think after she and Joseph took their eight day old son to the temple to be circumcised? Remember the old man Simeon lifted their boy up and prophesied over Him? Near the end of his declaration, he said these ominous words referring to Mary, "...a sword will pierce through your own soul....." Luke 2:35 NKJV. How many times did she ponder that? Did she ever ask her Son what the old man meant? Did those words flash back into her mind as she saw her boy and her Savior hung on the cross? There’s no greater pain than a parent having to bury one of their own children. Mary knew He was special, knew He was the Son of God, but did she know that He lived as a man, so that He could die?
In the words of Mark Lowry’s song, Mary Did You Know?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.
What did Mary know and when?
We should honor Mary as God has honored her, though we should not worship her. Likewise, we should honor our own mothers for their decision to partner with God in giving us life. Giving us the opportunity to love and to learn of our Savior Jesus, to be forgiven and have a personal relationship with our Lord. Happy Mother Day to all the Mom's out there, both physical and spiritual, for your nurture, love, and grace. God Bless.