Why this is important: Jesus has a real thing about hypocrisy. His frequent target are the religious leaders. In Matthew 23 he goes on a real rant about the frauds. He introduces 8 “woes” on them. “Woe to you!” Jesus says over and over. Even more, “Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter and won’t let anyone else in either.”
Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars [Scribes and Pharisees] are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. The religious elites don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.” ~Jesus
Matthew 23:1-3 (The Message)
What is the problem? The religious leaders knew the bible. What they had to say was generally “theologically” sound. In particular, they knew the law of Moses, too well. Listen to Jesus some more. “Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation—and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.”
Warning, warning, warning! There are “false prophets” and “false teachers”. Jesus warns
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.“
“For false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24 Peter follows up with a similar warning ” But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” 2 Peter 2:1
So, what is the problem with their teaching? While they could talk a good talk, they could not walk a good walk. Jesus tells us it is a matter of the heart. Religious leaders will tell me to tithe (to the church). Jesus challenges me to give to the poor directly and to not make a big deal about it to anyone. One is the talk, the other is the walk. This is known as “All talk and no action”!
What matters? The only thing that matters is doing what Jesus says. It starts with listening and then proceeds to doing. That is it. Saying it is useless. The poor aren’t any better off by talking about tithing.
Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν
Translated “Master Jesus the Messiah, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”