- Sermon Notes
Beneath the Mask
Illus. Types of Masks.
I. Deepen Your Devotion
- Here Jesus addresses His disciples and the crowds, but we know that the scribes and Pharisees were within earshot (vs. 13).
- Jesus here says they had seated themselves in the seat of Moses. What is clear is that they were not placed there by God, rather, they had seated themselves there.
- Moses was the supreme lawgiver and Old Testament spokesman for God. To sit in his chair, would put them in the position of God’s spokesman, but He had not placed them there.
- Jesus begins by pointing out their hypocrisy and the distinction between what they say, and what they do. Jesus says all they tell you, do and observe, but don’t do as they do.
- This is not the first time Jesus’ followers were told not follow their model:
- In reference to the religious leaders, in Matthew 6 Jesus had used the term hypocrites in the past concerning, giving, prayer, fasting; Jesus said, “don’t do as the hypocrites do.”
- In Matthew 15:7 after using the same term, Jesus told the Pharisees that Isaiah prophesied about them when he wrote: “these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”
- In other words, they say all the right things, they honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from the Lord, their worship is in vain, which means “excessively proud or concerned only about one’s own appearance, qualities and achievements.”
Illus. Shoulder Pharisees, wait a little, bruised and bleeding, humpback tumbling, ever-seeking, fearing, God-fearing.
Matthew 23:3-4, Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
- The picture here is of a custom in that day, of loading up a donkey, or camel to the point where the animal can hardly move. While traveling down the road, the owner would walk alongside it, carrying nothing, while berating and beating the animal if it began to stumble or slow down.
- The scribes and Pharisees carried no weight for the people, they would not help others in their endeavors. This is in contrast to what Jesus encouraged all who were weighted down to do.
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Illus. Best Buy Blues.
1 Peter 2:24, He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
- From there, Jesus paints a clear picture with some examples as to the hypocritical way in which they had gone astray.
- The deeds they did, were for the purpose of being noticed by men, it was all for show, they were play actors, hypocrites.
- Here He talks about their phylacteries and the tassels on their garments. Phylacteries were a small leather box strapped to the forehead or left arm of Jewish men during twice daily prayer. Inside the boxes were Scriptures.
Deuteronomy 11:18, Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
- Jesus said that the phylacteries would get larger and larger. In their minds, the most spiritual was the one with the largest box on his hand or head, they had a greater box, which began to mean greater devotion to God…But those big boxes were all for show.
- In Numbers 15:38-40, the Lord spoke to Moses, telling the sons of Israel to make tassels of blue on the corners of their garments, this would be for the remembrance of the commandments, and so that they wouldn’t follow after their own ways.
- In verses 6-12, Jesus says the scribes and Pharisees love the place of honor, they take the best seat in the synagogue, they love to be called Rabbi which means “chief,” or “master.”
- Here Jesus warns about three different titles: “rabbi,” “father,” and “teacher.”
- Those were titles that allowed the religious leaders to elevate themselves above others, and the people went along with it. These elevated titles and places were greatly desired by the religious leaders.
- Jesus, however, makes it clear that His people have One teacher, John 14:26 says the Holy Spirit will teach us all things, we have One heavenly Father, one leader, that is Christ.
- This means that we are all looking to the Lord. The religious leaders wanted people to look to them, and their way, but Jesus had come to show them THE way.
- They wanted their titles and tassels lengthened but needed rather their devotion to God deepened.
- In Vs. 12, Jesus said the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
- Since it is His mindset we are to have, since He is the model, we are to make sure we follow, then we must deepen our devotion to Him.
- Devotion means profound dedication, an assignment to a purpose. May we, deeply, at the deepest levels of being, be devoted to Christ, not just on the surface, or what another might see, but all that we are, totally and fully.
1 Peter 5:6-7, Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
- Ask What Jesus Has to Say About Your Way
- In Matthew 23:13-33, Jesus gives eight woes to the Pharisees. Clearly, after three years of seeing their ways, Jesus had some things to say.
- 13, 14, and 15, all begin with Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; 16, woe to you, blind guides; then in 23, 25, 27, 29, woe to you Pharisees, hypocrites.
- Certainly, in the Old Testament we see woes, those woes were in contrast to blessings.
- That term “blessed,” means “happy,” but in the truest, godly sense of the word.
- Eight times in this chapter He says, “woe.” It’s a word of denunciation, condemnation. It’s an exclamation of grief. In the original language, this word in Greek as well as Hebrew is – Ui (Oy)
- I want to remind you that Matthew 23 is Jesus’ final sermon. And I find it interesting that after 3 years of public ministry, in His final public sermon, He gives eight woes. This is in contrast to His first sermon on Matthew chapter 5, where He pronounced eight blessings.
- What is interesting, is the correlation between the eight woes, and the eight blessings. Also, the way they line up.
Matthew 23:13, “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.
Matthew 5:3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- The kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit, the Pharisees were proud in spirit.
- What He is saying is that the religious leaders He speaks of, are not going to heaven, and anybody who they saw get close enough to want to enter the door, they slammed it shut so they couldn’t get in.
Matthew 23:14, 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.
Matthew 5:4, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- Another problem was that they were taking advantage of widows even while giving long prayers as a pretense of holiness.
- They manipulated those who were mourning, rather than being those who would mourn. They were very good at taking advantage of others, even their own parents.
Mark 7:11, “But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition.”
Matthew 23:15, 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.
Matthew 5:5, Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
- The gentle, the meek, were going to inherit the earth, but they were trying to conquer the earth through their works, assuming more power than God had given, and they were converting others according to their ways.
- A proselyte is a convert. Jesus says, woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
- Those are strong words, but there is a strong point that goes along with it. If we want something sincere and authentic happening in our families and in our church, then we need to have something sincere and genuine in our lives as well.
Matthew 23:16-22, 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.’
Matthew 5:6, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
- The issue here is that the Jewish leaders were saying that it is only oaths on the gold of the Temple that obligates.
- But this was only a way to get out of keeping their word and not paying their obligations.
- We have a saying that captures this beautifully, “I give you my word.” That means that all that I am stands behind my word. That is what God wants for us as well.
Matthew 5:37, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
James 5:12, But let your yes be yes, and your no be no, so that you may not fall under judgment.
Matthew 23:23-24, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
- They went to great trouble to tithe the slightest amount of dill and cummin but neglected justice mercy and faithfulness (23).
- He used the example of straining out a gnat, the smallest of flies that might accidentally fall into a cup, but then they swallow a camel! According to Leviticus 11, the largest unclean animal is the camel, the smallest listed are winged insects, the gnat.
- They strained out the gnat, but swallowed the camel, in other words, they nitpicked little things, and avoided the big things. What are the greater things that God desires? Justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
Matthew 5:7, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Matthew 23:25-26, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
Matthew 5:8, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
- Those who are pure in heart will see God, the Pharisees on the other hand, were blinded to the things of God.
- You see, they were skillful at making a good appearance of right living. They cleaned up the outside. And they cleaned up the outside for one reason.
- Look back at Verse 5. Jesus says about them to the crowd, but all their works they do to be seen by men. In other words, their whole life is a show.
Matthew 23:27-28, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So, you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
- It was he custom of the Jews of that time to whitewash the tombs in the city of Jerusalem before Passover. This would ensure that nobody would touch one accidentally and make them ceremonially unclean.
- Jesus said the Pharisees were pretty on the outside, but dead on the inside.
- They were full of dead men’s bones and uncleanness. As we have seen, they themselves were planning and plotting to kill Jesus. Rather than being people of peace, they were plotting to kill the Prince of Peace.
Matthew 23:29-31, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
Matthew 5:10, Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- The Pharisees would say that if the Old Testament prophets were alive in their day, they would not have rejected and killed them. But here they were, planning and plotting the murder of the One all the prophets pointed to.
- Blessed are the persecuted, woe to the persecutors.
- By looking at Jesus’ first sermon and His last, clearly two ways are defined. The way of blessing and the woeful way.
- The question today is what does Jesus have to say about your way? When the way you are going, the direction your headed in causes the Lord to say, woe, or oy! Will you respond?
Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Psalm 139:23-24, Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
Illus. Indicator light.
- Do as He Desires
- Jesus here calls out the Pharisees, but His heart was not to condemn them. He wanted to restore them, bring them back, gather them in.
Matthew 23:37-39, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
- Jesus’ heart is displayed here. What did He want to do? What was His desire? What did He long for? To gather them in…But they were not willing.
- What does Jesus desire? What does He call you to? Who does He want you to be?
- Where have you turned from Him presently? Where have you willingly decided to ignore His way?
- The good news I want to share with you today, despite what may have been your way historically, is that Jesus has a better way, and for you, there is forgiveness.
- Luke 19:41 tells us that Jesus wept as He looked over the city of Jerusalem, Jesus was going to lay down His life to make a better way, but they wouldn’t turn, they weren’t willing to learn, to put the mask down, and allow Him to turn their lives around.
- His desire was to gather them in. The picture is of
John 10:9, I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. “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. [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.] “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. “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.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”