The use of God’s Word is a sacred responsibility for everyone, especially someone God has raised to Eldership. The leaders of God’s people must be constantly on guard for what has overtaken the Pharisees & Scribes that Jesus points out & condemns in our passage today. They have become corrupt; their position of leadership is meant to serve people, and instead they oppress and control those people using God’s Word to justify it!
There are honest mistakes, misinterpretations and misapplications of God’s Word that happen all the time as we pursue discipleship. Jesus is condemning religious leaders for abusing the power God’s Name in a willful, unrepentant manner
Leaders have a massive responsibility to handle God’s Word and to teach others how to handle it. (Context, Audience, Place in Scripture, Language @ both ends) Everyone one who is part of Jesus Christ’s body needs to always be growing in their knowledge of Scripture so they can be aware of misuse, misrepresentations and misinterpretations of God’s Word
43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”
- ‘What Sorrow’ is the ultimate sorrow: Eternity separated from God
- What they love (more than God) is the attention, approval & praise of people
- This is what is known as narcissism, a self focus that is incredibly corrupting
- It’s a preoccupation with image, & facade as well (a lifestyle of dishonesty)
- You can’t see the rot & filth with a casual observance, but the ‘Death’ is there
45 “Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.” 46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.
- We are offended because we support the Pharisees, they have picked sides
- Jesus says, ‘Yeah you are in the same boat with them’ (Against God)
- The sorrow of being separated from God is born of misusing your expertise
- Justifying oppression by ‘God’s Word’ & exempting yourself from responsibility
- A lack of acting with compassion is a sign of religious misuse of God’s Word
47 What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. 48 But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments!
- You act like you honor what God has revealed thru prophets / scripture
- The ‘Cult of The Temple’ at that time
- Their allegiance was to the structure they controlled rather than God
- God was a ‘Figure Head’ for how them rather than the leader
- We also support such evil if we do not oppose the wrong practices
49 This is what God in his wisdom said about you:‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’
- The rejection of God’s revelation & the manipulating of God’s Word will happen
- Misusing God’s Word is the same as persecuting & killing His representatives
50 “As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world— 51 from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.
- ‘This generation’ is everyone from this point forward (The revelation of Christ)
- With what they now knew and what we know (Christ) we are accountable
- We either honor God’s prophets / word or we are guilty of murder too
Old Testament Tie-In Time! Let’s take a look at what Jesus was referencing:
Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.’”
But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple. 22 King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, “May the Lord see this and call you to account.”
- King Joash met with a bad end…
52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.”
- Their misuse of Scripture keeps them & others from eternity with God
- To willingly do such a thing, is blasphemy of The Holy Spirit / denial of God
53 As Jesus was leaving, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees became hostile and tried to provoke him with many questions. 54 They wanted to trap him into saying something they could use against him.
- Instead of hearing what Christ was saying they wanted to keep manipulating
- Their study of Scripture was not to understand it but to leverage for themselves
- The trap is using scripture to justify your desires in opposition to Christ
- Proper use of scriptures transforms your desires to match God’s (Psalm 37:4)
A life of religious facade will corrupt and ultimately leads to the greatest sorrow.
The use of God’s Word as a pretext for oppression leads to the greatest sorrow.
Institutionalizing Scripture but not truly honoring His revelation contained in it, leads to the greatest sorrow.
We are responsible if we allow or tolerate what Christ has condemned, instead we must actively oppose it.
Expertise in Scripture that is not used for yours & others salvation leads to the greatest sorrow.
Using Scripture as a means to manipulate people & justify selfish actions is ‘Anti-Christ’.
What are some specific ways that scripture is misused in the world around you?
Why does Jesus focus so intently on the misuse of scripture by such a small group?
If you are not working against the misuse of scripture, are you supporting the misuse of scripture?
How can you intentionally keep yourself from misusing Scripture to justify selfish actions?