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Am I a master at making myself look good? 

Religious Charade

What Jesus has to say to the religious elites (aka Pharisees) and religious people in general is stunning. Jesus is direct. Jesus doesn’t pull any punches.

Am I more concerned about how “I am seen by others” than in changing my mind (aka repenting)? Will I continue the charade? Will I live the holy life Jesus is calling me to?

The religious leaders opposed Jesus the Messiah during his ministry and were among those who brought about his crucifixion. A few, but not many, accepted the Messiah’s teaching and believed in him. Jesus was particularly concerned with their love of money. This is sad but I ought to take note of it. I have been warned.

“You can’t serve both God and the Bank.

“When the religious elites (aka Pharisees), a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch. So Jesus spoke to them: “You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what’s behind the appearance.”

“What society sees and calls monumental,
    God sees through and calls monstrous.
God’s Law and the Prophets climaxed in John;
Now it’s all kingdom of God—the glad news
    and compelling invitation to every man and woman.
The sky will disintegrate and the earth dissolve
    before a single letter of God’s Law wears out.
Using the legalities of divorce
    as a cover for lust is adultery;
Using the legalities of marriage
    as a cover for lust is adultery.” | Luke 16:13-18 (The Message Bible)

The followers of Jesus got His point about serving God and the bank. It was the religious leaders who got offended. Jesus clearly saw the religious leaders as hypocrites. They put on a show. They wanted to look good. God knows the heart. Justice will be done.

What does Jesus say about all of this religiosity, elitism and theology? One day, Jesus really let them have it. This is called the seven woes. Listen to Jesus!

  • Woe to you, elites, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
  • Woe to you, elites, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
  • Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
  • Woe to you, elites, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
  • Woe to you, elites, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish,but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
  • Woe to you, elites, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
  • Woe to you, elites, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
  • You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
  • “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.” | Matthew 23
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