Jesus gives many warnings. However, the tone of most of most of the warnings of Jesus are redemptive in nature. He warns us so that we will avoid the snares of the Devil. He warns in order to save.
However, when it comes to the warnings in Matthew 23, Jesus’ warnings go a different direction. He doesn’t just warn of Satan’s traps. He doesn’t say that we should avoid the temptation. He simply and straightforwardly condemns.
What does He condemn? In verses 13 and 15 He condemns those who would bar the door of the Kingdom from others. Either through active disobedience or through legalistic burdens, those He condemns are those who keep people from following God. They encourage by their life a rejection of God’s call. They discourage by their additions to God’s call anyone from being willing to say yes.
Do we ever see ourselves in Jesus’ warnings? Do we see ourselves neglecting our relationship with God so much that we are no longer a witness for Him? Do we see ourselves standing in another person’s way to trust Jesus because we are presently neglecting our own salvation? They see no difference, no transformation in our life and so they reject Christ’s message. Is that us?
Or perhaps we see ourselves adding things to grace when we try to help new believers conquer sin. We reject rules and regulations which would say that we have to somehow earn God’s approval (as if such a thing were even possible for fallen man), but perhaps we have given those new Christians a list of do’s and don’ts which communicate the same thing. We haven’t encouraged them to let the love of Jesus guard their hearts and minds. Instead, we give them the very list of commandments that they have already discovered that they cannot keep. Are we drawing them to Jesus or are we increasing their feeling of hopelessness?
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day are easy marks for our criticism today. Yet in His criticism of the Pharisees, Jesus warns against all forms of self-righteousness. They were true warnings then. They are true warnings now. Woe to us if we are modern day Pharisees. May we heed His warnings.
Something to think about,