13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
14 [“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’
17 “You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?
18 “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’
19 “You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?
20 “Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it.
21 “And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.
22 “And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.
I have mixed feelings about this chapter. On the one hand, I love it because it obliterates the image of Jesus as a dull, boring, serious guy with no sense of humor. There are exclamation points everywhere (at least there are in translations other than the NASB, which I quoted here). He calls the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and blind guides. He uses hyperbole and sarcasm to drive his points home. I can just imagine spectators with their mouths agape or snickering into their hands as Jesus verbally undressed these men who took themselves entirely too seriously. On the other hand, I hate it because it exposes my own Pharisaical heart. It’s hard to laugh too much at Jesus’ exaggerations and insults without wondering if they are aimed at me as well.
In verse 13, Jesus begins pronouncing 7 (or 8, depending on your translation) “woes” upon the scribes and Pharisees for actions that motivated his use of the word “hypocrite” to point out that they were appearing one way while acting another. Their very attempts to give the appearance of righteousness showed their lack of righteousness, and today Jesus goes beyond their appearance to expose their hearts. This entire section reminds me of James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” The Pharisees failed to correctly teach and lead the people God had entrusted to them, and Jesus judges them harshly. Let’s look at why. Continue reading Woe to You