DCLM Search The Scripture Youth For February May 7, 2023 : Topic – JESUS DENOUNCES THE SCRIBESAND PHARISEES
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JESUS DENOUNCES THE SCRIBESAND PHARISEES
TEXTS: Matthew 23:1-39; Luke 11:37-54;13:31-35.
MEMORY VERSE: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13).
Jesus Christ in our text publicly rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees because of their hypocritical lifestyles. The Scribes and the Pharisees sat in Moses’ seat, assuming position of authority to teach people the laws of Moses but did not practice what they taught. Their lives were characterised by hypocrisy. They put heavy load on people but they could not move it with their fingers. They loved to attract praises and honour to themselves above God. They made merchandise of innocent people. Hence, Christ pronounced woes upon them: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13).They hated the words of Christ because it was always against their traditions and they plotted His arrest. “And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him” (Luke 11:53,54). They looked for ways of scaring Jesus Christ away from their environment but He would not be moved. Rather, He lamented over Jerusalem. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”(Luke 13:34,35). The Lord condemns and rejects every form of hypocritical living from His followers including youths and their leaders. There would not be room for them in heaven if they fail to repent.
Question 1: What can we learn from the stand of Jesus Christ against the hypocritical lifestyle of the Scribes and Pharisees?
Christian youths and their leaders must do away with hypocritical lifestyles and practices. They must do what they preach and teach others. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
CHRIST EXPOSES THE RELIGIOUS HYPOCRITES (Matthew 23:1-39;Luke 11:37-54; Romans 2:21-24;1 Isaiah 55,6,7)
The Scribes are Jewish class of learned men who made the systematic study of the law and its exposition their professional occupation. They are called ‘lawyers’ (Matthew 22:35), ‘doctor of the law’ (Luke 5:17), ‘rabbi (Matthew 23:8). They are devoted to preservation, transcription and exposition of the law. They propagate the tradition of the elders (Matthew 15:2-6). They serve as judges in Jewish law court. The Pharisees are called ‘Separatist’. They claimed to be loyal to God. They were found everywhere including Jerusalem. They appear in distinguishing dress for easy recognition. They keep to all the laws to the minutest detail. They are self-righteous people and strong antagonist of Jesus Christ. Nicodemus,Gamaliel and Paul were Pharisees. “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees. “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:1-3). It was this highly exalted position the Scribes and Pharisees took upon themselves. They taught the Jews observe the laws but failed to keep the laws themselves. It was this hypocritical lifestyle that Christ warns His followers to stay away from: He called it the “leaven of the Pharisees”. Christ hates all forms of hypocrisy and He would not want any of His followers to live a double-standard life.
Question 2: (a) In your own words, describe hypocrisy. (b) Mention some characteristics of the hypocrites.
Hypocrite is somebody who pretends to have godly principles but lives double standard life. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such tum away. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:5,7). The characteristics of hypocrites are as follows:
(1) They teach people the word of the Lord but live contrary to it (Matthew 23:3).
(2) They show people the way to heaven but they walk on the way to hell (Matthew 23:4).
(3) They demonstrate a form of godliness but lack the power of godliness (Matthew 23:5).
(4) They love worldly amusement, feasting and entertainment (Matthew 23:6).
(5) They love to attract public respect and human praises (Matthew 23:6).
(6) They render service to the Lord while their lives are far below expectation (Matthew 23:6).
Some youths get carried away by their involvement in religious activities and services in the house of God such as singing amongst the youth Choir, working with Electronics, serving as ushers,servingfood during retreat and success camp, sweeping the church, and arranging chairs, doing visitation and publicising special programmes, attending school and Youth Home Success Fellowship reqularly without taking care of their spiritual lives. They commit secret sins yet appear righteous outwardly.
Question 3: How can hypocritical youths escape the wrath of God?
“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (lsaiah 556,7).To avoid divine judgment, hypocrites should sincerely repent and become genuine Christians.
CHRIST PRONOUNCES WOES UPON THE HYPOCRITES (Matthew 23:13-36; Luke 11:42-54; Isaiah 5:18,20,21;30:1; 2 Timothy 3:8,9)
Christ’s declaration of woes is an expression of His displeasure towards the lives of the Scribes and Pharisees. It indicate that great misfortune would befall them as long as they continued in their hypocrisy. “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). God’s wrath awaits those who hinder others from knowing the way of salvation or cause them to backslide.
Question 4: From our text, mention some reasons Christ pronounced woes upon hypocrites.
The sins of the hypocrites are clearly stated in our text as follows:
(1) They make money from helpless and less privileged through long prayers (Matthew 23:14).
(2) They go all out to gain converts to themselves and make such more hypocritical (Matthew 23:1 5).
(3) They value the gifts above the altar (Matthew 23:16-19).
(4) They discretely observe all the rites and religious ceremonies, but neglect “..the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23).
(5) They kick against little offence or error of people but they commit greater offences (Matthew 23:24).
(6) They appear clean, holy and righteous outwardly but their hearts are corrupt (Matthew 23:25,26).
(7) They are like a white-washed tomb that is made beautiful to the eyes but inside is full of rotten bones (Matthew 23:27-29).
(8) They claimed to be different from their fathers who killed several
Question 5: What is the danger of living a hypocritical life?
“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”(Matthew 23:33).Hellfire awaits any youth who is hypocritical in nature and lifestyle. “And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner”(Luke 11:37,38). They accused Christ of not washing His hands before eating after their tradition. Though it is hygienic for one to wash hands before eating, but they did this to entrap Him. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”(Isaiah 5:20,21). Still in their craftiness, they sought ways to get more words from Christ with the aim of trapping Him through His teachings (Luke11:53,54).Christian youths and their leaders must learn to put their tongues under the control of the Holy Spirit to avoid the trap of the enemies.
CHRIST LAMENTS OVER JERUSALEM(Matthew 23:37-39; Luke 13:34,35;19:41;Romans 11:1-36;Acts 17:30,31)
“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and tomorrow, an d the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem”(Luke 13:31-33).The Pharisees tried to hinder Christ and keep Him out of Jerusalem, yet He would not be moved because He is the Lord of heaven and earth; His mission on earth must be accomplished. This deplorable state of the Scribes and the Pharisees prompted His lamentation upon Jerusalem.”0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee,how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”(Matthew 23:37). Jesus lamented over the miserable state of the minds of the people He came to rescue from the hands of the devil whose main aim is to steal, to kill and to destroy, because of the blindness of their spiritual eyes. They had killed so many prophets before Christ came. “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate”(Matthew 23:38). Furthermore, the presence of the Lord had departed from their physical temple. He would only reside in their hearts if they would open up to Him. “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”(Matthew 23:39).Jesus prophesied of the opportunity that the Gentile nation will have to access the kingdom of God since the Jews have refused to embrace it” ‘As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief”(Romans 11:28,30). Sinning youths should not take for granted the opportunities that are opened to them to embrace salvation before it is too late. The day of judgment is close-by and death can come any moment. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day. In the which he will judge the world in righteous ness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30,31).
Question 6: What can youths learn from Christ’s lamentation over Jerusalem?
In conclusion, Christ hates hypocritical life. He is warning every youth who is living a life of self-deceit while getting involved in the work of God to desist and make their ways right before it is late.