Day 247 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Matthew.
Matthew 23 – Why did Matthew include in his Gospel this discourse of Jesus against the scribes and the Pharisees? He may have wanted to issue a warning to them about their hardheartedness, in the hope that some of them would repent. He probably also wanted Believers to benefit from the Pharisees’ negative example.
The scribes and Pharisees were positioned to do great damage to the Jewish people. They were learned in the Scriptures, and, because of their learning, occupied positions of authority and influence. Yet they were blind to their own hardheartedness toward God. As a result, they were not only on the road to eternal destruction themselves but were leading others down the same road and leading astray those who were on the right road (see also 15:14). Their central problem was the disjunction between their inner condition and their outward appearance. To other people, they appeared devoted to God and worthy of respect, but they were motivated in their outward acts of piety by love for the praise of others, pride in their technical cleverness, greed, and self-indulgence.
Throughout Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus provides several diagnostic tests for making sure that His disciples’ hearts are not hardened toward God. First, He urges them to be careful that their acts of devotion to God, such as giving to the needy, praying, and fasting, flow from the heart and not from a desire to win the approval of others. Secrecy is key here (6:1–18). Second, Jesus encourages His disciples not to allow money and the temporary sense of security it can provide to replace God as their ultimate source of security (6:19–34; 13:22, 44–46; 19:16–30). Third, He encourages them to focus not on cleverly deduced methods and schemes for obeying God (15:5–9; 23:16–24), but on service to others (20:26–27; 23:11) and “the weightier matters of the law,” which He defines as “justice and mercy and faithfulness” (see also Micah 6:8; Hosea 6:6).
Our motivations are fickle and will never be completely pure, still how does your heart, and hence your actions, reveal your submission to Jesus and His leading?
Matthew 24 – Chapters 24-25 is a long block of teaching emphasizes God’s coming judgment of rebellion against Him (24:1–41), the importance of being ready for this time of judgment (24:42–25:13), and what this readiness looks like for His disciples (25:14–46).
Jesus says that sin and the destruction it causes in society will go from bad to worse as the time of His coming approaches. Religious deception (24:4–5), war (24:6–7a), and natural disaster (24:7b) will continue to plague the world, but as the end of all things gets closer, persecution of Jesus’ disciples will be added to this list of troubles (24:9–13). Jesus’ followers will, nevertheless, continue to preach the gospel to the people groups of the world (24:14), and, after a final surge of societal evil (24:15–28), Jesus Himself will break into the world’s sinful routine, gather His people, and end the world’s rebellion against its Creator (24:29–31). While sin grows worse, most people will not even notice, including Jesus’ disciples (24:37–39, 44, 50; 25:5, 19).
The question then becomes, “How can Jesus’ disciples be ready for His arrival?” (Hint we see this in the parables at the end of this chapter and will see more in chapter 25 tomorrow.)
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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