Thadeus rushed to his room in the temple square. He removed the heavy scribe’s robe and changed into pain clothes. He pried the door open and waited until the outside conversation carried past the street corner.
Once clear of the scribe’s quarters he worked his way back to the temple. Pressing through the crowd he came as close to Jesus as he could get without drawing attention to himself.
He hid his face from the fellow scribe who had just received an answer from Jesus.
Jesus watched the scribe walk away, then turned to the crowd. “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’s place to inform you about the law. Do as they tell you, but don’t do as they do. They love to build your burdens while taking theirs away. They love for you to notice their long prayers, large phylacteries and prominent seats at gatherings. Any of you who wants to be great should strive to be a servant to everyone. When you humble yourself you shall be exalted.
But, woe to the scribes and Pharisees who close up heaven for themselves and others they lead. They devour widows houses then recite long prayers.
Woe to the scribes and Pharisees who travel far to win a proselyte then make him a better son of the devil than they are.
Woe to you blind guides who tell people to swear by the gold of the temple without swearing by the temple. Hypocrites, which is mightier, the temple or the gold of the temple? If you swear by heaven you swear by the throne of God and He who sits on that throne.
Woe to the scribes and Pharisees who tithe their spices but neglect the real issues of justice, mercy and faith. You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.
Woe to you scribes and Pharisees who clean the outside of a cup but leave the inside full of filth. Hypocrites, first clean the inside then the entire vessel will be clean and useful.
Woe to you scribes and Pharisees. You are like whitewashed tombs that have the appearance of outward purity, but inside you’re full of dead bones and unclean things.
Woe to you scribes and Pharisees who dress up the tombs of the prophets and claim you wouldn’t have committed the atrocities of your fathers if you had been with them. You say rightly you are sons of wickedness, yet you follow along with their transgressions. Prophets, scribes and wise men are still being sent to you and you’re still killing and persecuting them today.”
The crowd shifted in front of Thadeus.
Jesus stared at him intently for what seemed like a night watch, then Jesus looked over the scribe’s shoulder toward the temple.
Thadeus watched some men pouring their coins into the treasury collection cone. Then an elderly woman approached. Her hand lifted briefly to the cone, then she walked away. The sound of Jesus turned Thadeus around.
“I tell you that widow put in more than anybody else today. They put in an offering out of their abundance, but she gave her all, a true sacrifice. It is noticed by My Father in Heaven.”
Thadeus staggered back until a wall stopped his progress.
To say Jesus disapproved of the way the religious leaders of His day handled their responsibilities would be an understatement.
Matthew 23 is the strongest indictment of the scribes and Pharisees on record. The outward show of the blowhards had reached a climax with the Son of God. Jesus was pushing them to make changes by declaring their hypocrisies and shortcomings.
He knew his time was short so He pulled out all the stops. The importance of purity of worship had been diluted to the point of being unrecognizable.
I would have hated to be a scribe in the crowd that day. That’s why I wrote this from the viewpoint I did. Imagine his realization of God’s hatred of the way things were conducted by him and his colleagues.
[Tweet “Keep God’s truth as the mainstay of your focus. Compromise is an effective lubricant”]
Put yourself in that crowd now. Is there anything Jesus would single out about you that might be done to get the attention of others over being true worship to God?
Are you always the first person to pray in a group setting and/or are your prayers always the longest ones at the meeting. You may feel like you just have more to say, but try to keep it to the point. God knows more about the situation than all of you in the room.
Do you flaunt how much money you give to your church or other charitable organization? I’m not saying giving large sums of money is bad. If you’re giving it just to gain influence, status or a sense of importance you need to check your motives.
Have you ever done something for someone while trying to stay invisible about it? There’s quite a sense of reward in doing so. God smiles on such actions. A random anonymous act can lift a spirit higher than anything else. Try it sometime.
Anyone in leadership holds a great deal of responsibility. Guard your heart at all times.
Those called by God to guide people to Him have an intense responsibility. Check your motives constantly.
The slope away from God’s best is gradual at the top. Stay accountable to others to secure your position.
Peers may see your sliding before you notice it. If you wait until the fallout is seen by a larger audience the climb back to the top will likely become quite messy.
Choose a peer group devoted to building God’s kingdom. If you all want to build your own followings ahead of all else you’ll all fall together.
Keep God’s truth as the mainstay of your focus. Compromise is an effective lubricant.
Quality of affect should always outweigh quantity. Depth of character must be more important than size.
Keep your flock on God’s narrow path. Remember the broad road leads to destruction.
Popularity shouldn’t be your focus. God’s kingdom needs to be.
I’ll see you later. Wade