Woe is Me

Matthew 23:13-17 & 23-28 & 33

“Woe to you, 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. (Matthew 23:13)

“Woe to you, 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. (Matthew 23:15)

“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.’ (Matthew 23:16)

You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? (Matthew 23:17)

“Woe to you, 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. (Matthew 23:23)

You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:24)

“Woe to you, 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. (Matthew 23:25)

Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (Matthew 23:26)

“Woe to you, 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. (Matthew 23:27)

In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:28)

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)

Me & Jordan not parents - Aware "how" - My wife and I are not parents, yet, but we’re working towards adopting, I’ve told you that before. Because of that, I’ve started to become aware of how parents ‘parent’ their kids. I’ve seen over-protective parents, under-protective parents.

I’ve seen military style parents : “But why Dad?” “B/C I told you to maggot. Now drop and give me 20!”

One thing I’ve learned is this: Parents have 2 different TONES. You know what I mean? Like there’s the fun everything’s cool tone, and the “you better listen to every word I say or I will make you pay for that.’ tone.


Matthew 23 -- beginning -- final ‘speech’.

Well here in Matthew 23 we read the beginning of Jesus’s final ‘speech’ before his crucifixion.

The sermon on the mount was the 1st major ‘speech’ and this is the final.

And this is Jesus on the attack.

He’s not mincing words, he’s not using cute analogies. He is being brutally intense.

I’ve warned you before that Jesus can be pretty UN-seeker-sensitive. And this is possibly the strongest example of that in the entire book of Matthew.

If you listen to any sort of preaching class when they talk about your ‘intro’ what they’re going to say is ‘make connection’. Let the people know you’re just a regular person like them and you’re in the same boat as they are. “Haven’t we all felt…”. Here’s Jesus’s intro: “Judgement to you, you hypocrites. You snakes. You vipers.”

Incredible insult. I don’t know if you appreciate what an incredible insult this is: These were jews who were FULLY committed to the Genesis creation narrative where ALL EVIL in the earth comes from a snake. - He’s basically calling them sons of the devil. And he’s talking to the most religiously moral people that have ever been and he basically says ‘How you doing, sons of the devil?' Great intro.

At this point he really doesn’t care b/c he knows this is one of the last times he’s going to be able to preach, basically.

Exit interview. So it’s like an exit interview at a job, you say whatever you want. What are they gonna do? Fire you? You just quit. Jesus is pretty much at this same place: He’s knows they’re going to kill him. So what does he have to be afraid of? Are they gonna kill him twice?!


‘The 7 Woes'.

He gives what is known as ‘The 7 Woes'.

The Bible word ‘Woe’ basically means two things: One is ‘warning’ and the other is ‘judgement’. And in Matthew 23, the word is definitely ‘judgement’.

These 7 woes stand in contrast to the 7 blessings of the beatitudes.

Blessed are:

  • The poor in spirit
  • Those who Mourn
  • The Meek
  • Those who hunger & thirst for righteousness
  • The Merciful
  • The Pure in Heart
  • The Peacemakers

Those who are persecuted because of righteousness.

Opposite. Well these 7 woes are the opposite of those. Here, he says “Judgement to those who…” and then lists 7 things. But as you just heard a moment ago, it’s not nearly as nice and organized and pretty as the beatitudes.

It’s long, and intense and INCREDIBLY confrontational. In the gospel of Luke, the blessings and woes are grouped together. In the gospel of Matthew the blessings are at the beginning of his ministry and the woes are at the end.

Jesus never does anything NOT motivated by love, but I’m sure if you ask any parent in the room, they would tell you that sometimes love produces a rebuke.

Condemning hypocrisy.

It’s all centered around condemning hypocrisy.

Hypocrites is a greek word, it hasn't been translated.

Nowadays, it means all kinds of things, especially when talking about religious people.

But in the greek, it's simply talking about an actor on a stage.

It also has a connotation of putting on a mask for theater.

Tragedies / Comedies.

Hypocrisy is spirituality as a kind of theater.


Of all the accusations hurled against us Christian folk - we’re judgmental, we’re hateful, we’re greedy, we're homophobic. Out of all of those accusations, without a doubt the most common is that we Christians are hypocrites.

Now, 2 things of that:

  • I think that's an excuse to not submit to your Creator.
  • It’s pretty hard to argue with.

Now for those of us who want to say : “I hate it when people call someone else a hypocrite.” I’ll just say this: the Bible isn’t your book. And Jesus isn’t your man.

He is consistently denouncing hypocritical behavior in religious people.

He is the sworn enemy of hypocrisy.

Listen: The world will accuse of us being a hypocrite everything we mess up. That doesn’t make you a hypocrite, it makes you a human.

What makes you a hypocrite is when you pretend.


Outlet. That’s why Outlet is run the way it’s run, it’s why I get up here and I’m constantly using myself as an example of being imperfect. B/C I refuse to create a community that comes in here and plays make-believe. That does nothing but waste your time.


So Jesus is his final discourse, really takes the time to spell out how hypocrisy shows itself in someones life.

In every ‘judgement’ of the pharisees, there’s a warning for us.

I’ve read through these 1,000 times and it really boils down to 3 basic judgements.


Judgement 1. You're religious but you're not kind.

“Woe to you, 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. (Matthew 23:23)

You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:24)

Here’s what Jesus says: Your religion doesn’t mean a lot if you’re a jerk all the time.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say this: I really think Christians can be some of the meanest people on the planet.

As you draw closer to God, he will cause your heart to open to people.

Where you’ll find yourself being moved with compassion towards people that, a year ago, you didn’t want anything to do with.

That doesn’t mean that you never correct, that doesn’t mean that you never confront, in fact, true kindness means confronting when you need to confront.

But there’s a word of difference between a loving confrontation or even a rebuke to someone you love and just being a jerk. I hope you can see that difference.

And if all your friends are saying ‘Why are you so mean to that guy?’ Listen, there’s something going on there. And it doesn’t have anything to do with that guy, it has everything to do with you and God.

Hypocrisy is loving God & hating your neighbor.

You’re pretending.

You can’t fake real kindness. At least not for long.

You decide you want to be a kind person so you still have this inner state of constantly being annoyed with people, but you just let it simmer inside you, but you’re trying to smile. You just look like the joker. You’re smiling, but you’re creepy.

It’s hypocrisy.

Lack of love for neighbor reveals a lack of love for God.

This is the theme of the book of 1 John.

People think:

People think: It’s personality

You might be thinking: “Easy for you to say Mr huggy guy.” But I’m shy.

Kindness can flow from any personality

  • Dayna/Dad: Cookies
  • Did you know my parents cook and cut communion bread for Outlet every week? It’s kindness.
  • Me: Hugging

Kindness is motivated by love for others.

My wife. She’s such a kind person. But she’s like me who’s always like “Ahh!!! I want to go to the mall and hug strangers till they call the police!”

Jordan: I want to do something nice for…

Where it gets hard: Everyone We are supposed to show kindness to everyone

If anything is done apart from love, it's fake.

We can have this tendency to come to church and say "Where is the deep stuff?!”

Love is the deep stuff.

Nothing is easier conceptually and nothing in harder in practice.

Theology - Distraction. As much as I love theology, I also realize that it can serve as a distraction from the deep thing. - Loving God and loving others.

God is more known by love than by thinking.

You can check how you're doing in the love department by checking on your kindness.

Are you kind?

Are you kind to your spouse? / Co-workers / Mother-in-law / Awkward friend at church. I don’t know, whatever that is for you.

Being religious but neglecting the more important things like mercy & kindness is hypocrisy.


Judgement 2. You honor God with your words and dishonor God with your life.

“Woe to you, 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. (Matthew 23:25)

Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (Matthew 23:26)

The problem with the pharisees is not what they teach, but that they don’t practice what they preach.

It’s so easy to say Christian stuff.

It’s so easy to say that God is at the center of your marriage. But when you’re fighting, is that even a thing anymore?

So easy to pray : “Forgive us our sins and we forgive those who sin against us. Do you though? Jesus is saying that hypocrisy is talking Christian talk, but not living it.

Stupid illustration: Mark Twain’s wife wanted to break him from cursing, so one day, with a paper full of curse words she came into the room and shouted each curse word out loud. Mark Twain looked at her and said, “Honey- you got the words right, but your heart wasn’t in it.” That’s the hypocrite.

Words are important, but when they’re separated from who you are, it just makes you a hypocrite.

From the beginning Jesus has told his followers that what they teach and who they are cannot be separated.


Judgement 3. You're motivated by status and recognition.

“Woe to you, 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. (Matthew 23:27)

In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:28)

Remember what Jesus said in the sermon on the mount warning people to not practice their righteousness to be seen by others.

Jesus says if you want to be great, if you want to be number one, here’s what that looks like. - You become the servant of everyone else. If you’re thinking this looks nothing like the world you currently live in, you’re right!

A legitimate danger for men and women of faith is to do things God commands for them to do, but not do them because they love God, delight in God, or want to know God, but rather to do those things in order to be praised by men, in order to get the attention of men.

They want to have the honored place at the banquets and the best seats in the synagogues. They want to be treated with respect in the marketplaces and addressed as “rabbi.”

Let me ask a diagnostic question: Is the only time you pray in public? OR Are you someone you're not when you pray? When you're publically praying?

I do believe when you pray there should be reverence before God. I don't think you have to downshift into King James. Reverent before God when we pray, but you don't have to be someone you're not. Have you ever seen this? Like all of a sudden, just a completely different dude praying than was there like six seconds ago. It's like, "What's up, man? Are you doing all right?"

"Yeah."

"Will you pray?"

"Sure. O heavenly Father, thou hast…" You're like, "Was that a hast? What is a hast?"

Listen; be who you are.


We're all hypocritical.

Something I want to highlight: You are a hypocrite. And so am I. We all pretend

We all act more pious than we really are.

The good news of the gospel is hypocrites are welcome. That's the good news, because there's no one in this room who's not hypocritical. No one. Whether you're completely secular and humanistic or whether you've been a person of faith since… I mean, Mama shot you out on the altar. You don't remember a day you weren't in church. You are inconsistent and you are hypocritical. No one is clean on that. No one.

But the beauty is that when we come to Jesus, he's always in the process of working out of us our tendency to be fake. To be the hypocrite, to be the Pharisee.


Solution

Solution: As is so often the solution when it comes to things of the heart: Find your security in the love of the father.

A side effect of that is that you’re not haunted by your own imperfection.

And you stop being so obsessed with looking perfect, and being perfect, and you’re able to open up to God in a way that he can actually come in a help you.


I’m convinced that the way Jesus works is cutting through - facade - Communicates - knows - accepts.

The God that many of you are searching for without even knowing it, is the God who sees you, knows you, and accepts you.

‘If - showed - real self - reject.’

So many : Going through life hiding. This feeling of ‘if I showed my real self, they’d reject me.’

Meanwhile, the power of the gospel is found in a God who sees you as you really are, and loves you.

Let that sink in. He’s see’s everything about you, and you are COMPLETELY loved.

I just feel like there’s lots of you in here that have a desperation that is more profound and more broken than you would even know how to talk about.

Just sitting there, feeling alone. Surrounded by people, but still alone. Just wishing that there’s someone who could see the real you. Who could know the real you. And accept you, and even love you.

That’s found in Jesus.

Most of the time, we don’t really believe that.

We hear a song or listen to a sermon about the love of God and think “That’s nice that Jesus loves those other people.” - Accepts.

But in our own minds we say “But you don’t know my story.” You don’t know where I’ve been.


No matter where you’ve been: If Jesus appeared at your dining room table tonight with knowledge of everything you are and are not, total comprehension of your life story and every skeleton hidden in your closet; if He laid out the real state of your present discipleship with the hidden agenda, the mixed motives, and the dark desires buried in your heart, you would feel His acceptance and forgiveness.

Communion

As we pass communion, spend a minute - opening your heart - He sees you. He knows you, he loves you.

He wants you to open your heart up to him, and rest.

There's this beautiful rest that can be found in not trying to hide, not trying to cover yourself or act like you're something other than exactly what you. Warts and all. He sees you.

So open up, receive Him, & rest.

(PASS)

To be alive is to be broken. And to be broken is to stand in need of grace. Honesty keeps us in touch with our neediness and the truth that we are saved sinners. There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are. (Brennan Manning)

And confess the creed that the church has been confessing for nearly 2000 years.

Pray - Jesus, we know that you see us. There's such a profound need in the human heart to simply to be known, and understood, and accepted. So tonight, we sit in your presence and we simply recieve your love. Our souls laid bare, nothing is hidden from you. And that's a good thing. And as we bless this bread and this cup, honor you as the God who knows us intimately and loves us completely. We're truly known by you. And we say that we believe in you. And we trust you with our whole lives. And we thank you.