I love reading Matthew 23. There are a couple of reasons why. For one, we get to see an awesome side of Jesus that most “churchy folk” try to cover up. We get to see him completely and utterly pissed off and disgusted. Like, I can imagine how awesome it would have been to be there as he was screaming at the “teachers” and “religious people” for getting the whole christian thing wrong. Another reason I like this chapter is because it shows the human side of Jesus. I know he was completely God as well, but we get to see him really affected by other people’s words.
First, he says something to the crowd He’s speaking to; warning them about the pharisees. In verse five he says “Everything they do is done for people to see.” He’s telling them to be aware of preachers who do not practice what they preach. A little later on in the chapter He starts talking straight to the pharisees. He does seven “woes” , meaning seven admonishments. But four of the “woes” start off with the same sentence: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites.” and then he finishes it by calling them Snakes or a Brood of Vipers. It’s crazy to see Jesus referring to people who people looked up to, people who were supposedly following God; snakes. Slimy, dirty, hissing, poisonous snakes. The whole chapter talks about hypocrisy.
What if he were here right now? In physical form? What would he say about street preachers? What would he say about tele-evangelists? What would he say about the leaders of your local church? In some cases, I’m pretty sure he would freak out at some leaders for being hypocrites. Like the ones who talk about helping the needy, but won’t get out from behind their desks to do anything about it. The ones who talk about preaching salvation but haven’t led a person to Christ since they became a pastor. The bible makes it very very clear that we are to practice what we preach.
If you’re a leader in your church, I really want to encourage you to examine your life, and to think about what Jesus would say if he saw you speaking. Would He approve? If you have a relationship with Jesus but aren’t a Leader; please also examine yourself, and see what faults you may have. One of the hardest moments of my life, was realizing that if Jesus was here today… He would probably call me a snake. That realization is something that has made my relationship with Jesus so much stronger over the past several weeks.