Will you be making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Will you be fasting during the 40 days of Lent? Will you give up any little luxuries until Easter? Will you mark Ash Wednesday with ash on your forehead as a visible sign of your repentance for sin? Will you tell anyone? In our series The Passion of Jesus, based on the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus taught us how to inoculate ourselves from spiritual abuse:
Be Holy: Cultivate a Simple Faith.
Be Hidden: Content with a Secret Faith.
Be Humble: Concentrate on a Serving Faith.
In today’s passage – Matthew 23:13-39, Jesus turns from the disciples and confronts those responsible for the abuse, directly and personally. He pronounces eight woes upon them. It is poignant to remember this was Jesus last public sermon. It stands in stark contrast to his first public sermon in Nazareth and its elaboration in what became known as the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5, Jesus describes true righteousness. In Matthew 23, He defines false righteousness. Let us compare the two.
Lets distinguish the path to blessing from the path to cursing. The first contrast?