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   “Gentle, loving, forgiving” Jesus publicly evaluates the scholars and teachers in Jerusalem. Consider His teaching as recorded in just Matthew chapter 23¹.

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   Examine words from his commentary:

   (1)  “Do not do according to their deeds” (v.3)

   (2)  “They tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (v.4)

   (3)  “They love the place of honor…and chief seats…” (v.6)

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   (Continuing the list from Mt. ch. 23)

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   (4)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…”  (v.13)

   (5)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…”  (v.14)

   (6)  “…you devour widows’ houses”  (v.14)

   (7)  “…you shall receive greater condemnation.”  (v.14)

   (8)  “[you] make one proselyte…twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”  (v.15)

   (9)  “Woe to you, blind guides…”  (v16)

  (10)  “You fools and blind men…”  (v.17)

  (11)  “You blind men…”  (v.19)

  (12)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…”  (v.23)

  (13)  “You blind guides…”  (v.24)

  (14)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…”  (v.25)

  (15)  “You blind Pharisee…”  (v.26)

  (16)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…”  (v.27)

  (17)  “…you are like whitewashed tombs…”  (v.27)

  (18)  “…inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness  .”  (v.28)

  (19)  “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”  (v.29)

  (20)  “…you bear witness against yourselves…”  (v.31)

  (21)  “You serpents…”  (v.33)

  (22)  “…you brood of vipers…”  (v.33)

  (23)  “…how shall you escape the sentence of hell?”  (v.33)

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   There is, of course, much more to this sermon, but our purpose here is simply to see how Jesus–who didn’t sin–addressed the leading scholars and teachers of His day. He spoke as one having authority, hardly falling in line with business as usual.

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   ¹ As expressed in the NASB (New American Standard  Bible). We admit we’ve said little about the context here, but it wasn’t long before Jesus was crucified. Chapter 23 of Matthew underlines the reality, as observed by C. S. Lewis’s trilemma, that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord He claimed to be. There is no middle ground.