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February 05, 2024

Ep.1319: What Did Jesus Really Think of the Pharisees? (Part II)

What we can learn from the deep hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees

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Play Part I


The fifth woe compares the Pharisees to dirty dishes! What does that mean?

The sixth woe compares the Pharisees to whitewashed tombs! What does that mean?

The seventh woe is about crimes of their ancestors! What does that mean?

Theme Scripture: Matthew 23:27

Jesus was at odds with the scribes and Pharisees. They stood for traditions that had been built upon the foundation of the Jewish Law but were not part of the already complex rules and guidelines God had commanded through Moses so many generations before them. No, these traditions were fabrications, and were likely in place to separate the ruling class from the people. Meanwhile, Jesus stood for the people. He stood for those who were less educated, less fortunate and less prominent, as they were the ones most likely to be open to God’s grace and mercy. This division came to a head shortly before Jesus was crucified, as he directly confronted these leaders with their hypocrisy. In Part I, we began to address the seven powerful "woes" Jesus had proclaimed to them.

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It is important to realize how Jesus presented the seven woes to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23. First, he was in a mixed crowd and began by telling the average people about the danger their spiritual leaders were bringing to them. Jesus said some hard things, and he said them right in front of those very spiritual leaders. Next, Jesus turned to those leaders and proceeded to tell them the depth of their failures.


He did this for several reasons:

  1. All he said was true and necessary.
  2. He knew that his crucifixion was imminent, that he was out of time.
  3. He loved those religious leaders as members of God’s chosen nation, and he grieved over their fall from God’s favor.

The first three woes Jesus proclaimed to Israel’s religious leaders revealed hard truths about their lives. Jesus began by describing them as hypocrites. They claimed Moses’ authority even though it was far beyond their reach. They sought to convert others to be of the “ruling class” like them, while leaving the average people of Israel without the guidance they were tasked to give. They blindly added confusion to the sacredness of worship in the Temple so the average Jew could not measure up.

"Hypocrites and blind guides!"

Jesus did not stop there. Oh no, there were four more of these woes, and each one dramatically captured their hypocrisy and deeper and deeper failures to truly uphold God’s Law. Check out our February 5, 2024 podcast, “What Did Jesus Really Think of the Pharisees? (Part II)” for more. We walk through the painful realities of these last four woes and focus in on the reasons for Jesus’ blunt approach.

These leaders had proudly and publicly obsessed over tiny details of the Law. They intentionally hid their craft and corruption beneath a shiny, clean appearance. They systematically proclaimed themselves better than everyone else both past and present. Join us for this remarkable journey as we observe Jesus calling out hypocrisy, self-imposed blindness to truth, corruption and devilish behavior. There is SO much we can learn by knowing what NOT to do!


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