v. 31-32 Jesus said "The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here." The Queen of the South and the Ninevites turned to God with far less evidence than Jesus was giving the people of that time period. Today we have access to the bible and know the stories and the history so we have much more information than they did back then. Our response should be even greater because of it.
v. 33-36 "No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on it's stand so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness." The lamp is Jesus, the eye is spiritual understanding and insight. If you have a hard time seeing God at work in the world, check your vision. Is there anything blinding you? We are to be lights for all the world to see. Unfortunately many Christians are dim most of the time.
v. 37-41 Jesus was invited to a Pharisee's house to eat. He did not wash His hands first before sitting down, they were surprised. Jesus said "You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? Give what is inside the dish to the poor and everything will be clean for you." They did not wash there hands because of health reasons. They did so as a symbol of washing away anything that was unclean. The Pharisees had everyone do this which was originally meant only for the priests. They thought themselves clean because of all their rules, but they did not care for the poor and have hearts for God. Your generosity reveals how you much purity is in your heart.
v. 42 Jesus is warning the leaders that their hearts have become cold. The meaning of woe is grievous distress, affliction, distress or trouble. Here Jesus says it five times in the section. How important do you think we should pay attention to this section as well? "Woe, to you Pharisee's, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone." Don't think just because you give to your church that your done and have to do no more. If there is a need then we are supposed to fill it, we do not need to go and pray and wait to receive a sign before we help others. Tithing is important, but do not stop there.
v. 43 "Woe, to you Pharisee's, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplace." Are you the type of person that must have the closest parking spot or the best chair at dinner? My son always likes to be the first to get on the school bus. The kids take turns and when there are other kids waiting for the school bus I like them to let them go on first sometimes. If you are always thinking of your self then that is all the reward you will get, but if you place yourself last then you will get your reward in heaven. How much better is that!
v. 44-46 "Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it. Woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." The Old Testament said that a person who touched a grave was unclean. Jesus said they were making others unclean by their spiritual rottenness. They corrupted everyone who came into contact with them. The burdens were man made laws added to God's laws. They added to the commandment - Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. They added how far a person could walk, which kinds of knots could be tied, and how much weight could be carried. Healing a person was unlawful, but rescuing a trapped animal was ok. How insane is that!
v. 50 "This generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world." The people were rejecting the Messiah himself so that is why they were held accountable for all the blood shed from the beginning until then.
v. 52 "Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who are entering." They gave a legalistic view of scripture to the people and added their own rules. I have read that there were more than 600 rules that they made up. That sounds so stressful having to keep up with all the rules. They made God's truth hard to understand and put into practice. They had closed the door of God's love and thrown away the key. Those in a position of influence need to beware, you will be judged for your actions of keeping others away from God. I know that some other beliefs have you going through religious leaders to get to God. When you are a Christian it is a personal one on one relationship with God. You do not have to go through anyone else to get to Him. We need church leadership in our lives but they are not going to be beside us on Judgment Day. We stand on our actions, our thoughts, our beliefs, what we did and nothing else.
Jesus addressed these problems:
- they washed the outsides, not the insides
- remembered to give a tenth, but neglected justice
- loved praise and attention
- loaded the people down with burdensome demands
- would not accept the truth about Jesus
- prevented others from seeing the truth