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Tough Love

Tuesday, March 19th
Tough Love!
By: Shirley Davis

Matthew 23:23-39

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’[a]”

The words of Jesus here remind us of another aspect of Jesus that we so often overlook. He was not always “meek and mild”!! Surely these words are some of the harshest he ever spoke: “hypocrites”, “snakes” and “brood of vipers”!!  And to make it even more shocking, he addressed them to the Jewish religious leaders!! He also repeated the sentiment with a variety of colorful illustrations just to make sure everyone got the message!

Verse 33 ends with the question: “How will you escape being condemned to hell?” But then Jesus continues right on with “Therefore I am sending you prophets, sages and teachers…” Jesus knew that these godly people he was sending would be persecuted and even killed, but I believe the final verses of this passage show us why Jesus just could not give up on his people. He laments, he grieves over Jerusalem, because he LOVES these people!!
Even the people who most deserve his righteously scathing criticism, even the worst of sinners, is still loved by God! He continues to give them another chance as long as they have life in their body! Now THAT is love! Lord, please help us all to have that love and hope for the lost so that some may be saved at the very brink of Hell!

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