“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (6/26/10): Demand #25 “Your Righteousness Must Exceed That of the Pharisees, for It Was Hypocritical and Ugly”

Matthew 16:6

Watch out and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Matthew 5:20

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 23:4

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to help them.

Matthew 23:27-28

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

“Jesus said that we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven if our righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). Someone might take this to mean that we must out-Pharisee the Pharisees. They were the most meticulous Jewish students of the Mosaic law and the most rigorous enforcers of its details. The tradition had grown up that there were 246 positive commandments in the Law (the first five books of the Bible) and 365 prohibitions. Getting these right and keeping them meticulously was the vocation of the Pharisees… No group awakened anger and aching in the heart of Jesus like the Pharisees. Matthew 23 is the most severe chapter in all four Gospels. It is unremitting criticism of the Pharisees. Yet it ends with an echo of the aching in Jesus’ heart: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matt. 23:37). (pg. 190-192)”

“The Pharisees who are listening should hear an invitation to them. Jesus will welcome them into the celebration of grace and salvation if they will lay down their judgmental self-righteousness and delight in mercy. But very few of the Pharisees, as far as we know, made that move. Apparently Nicodemus did. He was the Pharisee who came to Jesus with questions at night and heard Jesus say, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). We find Nicodemus after the death of Jesus making an extremely risky move for “a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1). He brought seventy-five pounds of spices to honor Jesus’ dead body (John 19:39) and joined with Joseph of Arimathea to give Jesus a proper burial… But that was rare. For the most part, the Pharisees were entrenched in enmity toward Jesus to the end… The picture Jesus paints of them is tragic and ugly. The root problem is that their hearts are far from God. He said to them in Matthew 15:7-8, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.’” Their hearts do not treasure God; they treasure money, praise, and sex… What made this idolatry so ugly to Jesus was that it all came in clean religious clothing. This was the essence of what he called hypocrisy (pg. 193-194).”

***  A song from my youth that helped teach me the importance of not being hypocritical in my faith is “For Who He Really Is” by Steven Curtis Chapman.  An audio clip of this song is attached in my Vodpod on this page.  May it challenge you to portray Jesus in your life with integrity and honesty.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on June 26, 2010 at 9:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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