Matthew 23:17, 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
Read: Matthew 23:16-22
similarities to Lk 11:37-54 occurring earlier in Jesus’ ministry; one “harmony” looks for way to have Matthew’s account be out of place, better suited to small dinner setting; the rest take chronological placement as indicating 2 separate occasions when Jesus denounced religious leaders blindness and hypocrisy
in the Temple area; probably Tuesday of Passion Week; scribes, Pharisees, crowds and the Twelve present
Person(s) being questioned:
Matt. 23:1 “Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples”
“woe to you, scribes and Pharisees” – v.13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29; “woe to you, blind guides” – v.16
highlighting erroneous teaching of religious leaders, questioning them directly, encouraging all w/i earshot to think critically
Question behind the question:
What is the purpose of the temple?
What / who should be the focus of activities at the temple?
How does this teaching promote truth and justice?
should have responded – temple and altar – both have use and significance regardless of gold or specific gift
their teaching about oaths and vows implied just the opposite – apparently they couldn’t “see” the contradiction
description of Matt. 22:46 carried on even in face of Jesus calling down curses on them – “no one was able to answer Him a word”
truth / integrity
what’s the use of an oath or vow if you can get out of it on a technicality?
how does it advance the truth if you say one thing and mean another?
how can you claim to lead others to the truth when your “rules” encourage deception?
think about why you go to church – to worship the things you bring… or the one who makes the church holy?
if the gold and the gift rank higher than anything else in their surroundings, what is the real focus of worship?
nothing you are swearing by can hold you accountable and you know that… only God can – and where is he in the picture?
effect of lack of trust on culture
society / community disintegrates, becomes radical individualism if there is no interpersonal trust – destroys relationships, paralyzes commerce, worship becomes self-focused
must be those known for commitment to truth and integrity – people of our word and the Word, upholding the truth: John 14:6; 1 Tim. 3:15
keeping right focus / emphasis in worship
what we call worship
shouldn’t call something worship that isn’t just because it happens at church, with Christians
how we do worship
each element of a worship service should intentionally draw attention to the proper object of worship, God
anything that encourages undue attention elsewhere should be avoided or eliminated
where we go to worship
whatever there is about the worship space that draws attention away from the proper object should be altered or removed
in all things, whatever does attract the attention of worshipers should focus it on a true representation of God