Class Notes: 11/16/2014

Mark 12:38-40; Matt 23; Jesus warns about relgion part 4


In our study of Mark we are in Mark 12:38-40; and the parallel passage in Matt 23; where Jesus is condemning the Jewish leadership for their failure to fulfill their duty to accurately communicate God's Word to the people.

Their failure has caused them to reject Jesus as Messiah and to hinder those who did have positive volition to Jesus and His message.

Last time we noted that religion obscures the way of salvation by grace through faith alone by appealing to human good works, it always teaches a system of salvation by works,

Religious teachers who are satan's emissaries take these people as they move toward the cross and block them away from grace into works. They persuade them to accept a works system of morality, keeping the law, and being good. 2Cor 11:13-15;

Matt 23:14; is not in the original manuscripts but it is in Mark 12:40; so we will take it up when we get back to Mark at the end of our study of Matt 23.

Matt 23:15;"Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites" With the exception of the third woe, Jesus uses this same phrase every time; "for you travel by sea and land to make one convert."

Religious people are filled with a tremendous amount of zeal and are strongly motivated by the evil of human good.

The Greek word "proselutos" that is translated "convert" is also transliterated "proselyte" In the time the Bible was written the word was always used for a Gentile who converted to Judaism and was circumcised.

"and when he becomes (a proselyte or convert) you make him twice a son of genenna than yourselves."

The twofold reference refers to the fact that the converts to Judaism or any other system of legalism or religion are twice as zealous as their teachers.

This is always the case of reformed crusaders. Reformed crusaders are filled with crusader arrogance and are therefore very zealous for their newly adopted belief system and vision for what is good.

People who change something because they have been convinced it is wrong are more convinced that they are right so they have more zeal about their new belief system than those who actually evangelized them into their new found thinking.

The word translated "hell" is the Greek word "gehenna" that refers to the eternal lake of fire that is God's final judgment for the fallen angels as well as all unbelievers in the human race. Matt 25:41;

Matt 23:16; This woe is slightly different from the others. "Woe unto you, you blind guides." This is addressed to the Pharisees as religious leaders

It emphasizes the bad influence the religious leaders had on their proselytes and the arrogance and irrationality of their leadership. It also emphasizes that the only thing worse than religious people is the religious leaders they follow. Following a guide who has blind arrogance is the epitome of ignorance.

We have this same problem in our country today. The majority of the people are following "progressive" leaders who have blind arrogance.

Jesus is using sanctified sarcasm in telling the people that the worst thing you can do is have a guide who is blind. The principle is: if you have can see and you select a blind guide then there has to be something seriously wrong with your thinking.

The blind guides "keep on saying"; "Whoever swears by the temple." This use of the word "swear" is referring to making a vow or a promise by using a reference to God, the temple or the alter that is in the temple as assurance that they are telling the truth.

At the time if you were going to make a vow this was as strong as you could make it. They could take a vow in the name of God and if they did that they were saying, If I am telling a lie then God should strike me dead or place me under discipline.

The second was a vow in the name of the temple so it was being made in the name of Jesus Christ because the temple represents of the person of Christ so that if what you said was not true and if you did not fulfill your obligation then Jesus Christ should put you under discipline.

Another vow could be made in the name of the altar. The altar also represents Jesus Christ emphasizing His work, the cross. These all were legitimate ways of making a solemn promise.

The point is that this is that they were making a vow in the name of someone who could punish them if they were not telling the truth, and it was also used in the courts of law.

But once religion came along there was a big change. What does religion want more than anything else? Money. Religion is always looking for money, religion is always out of money, and religion is always trying to find some way to fleece the population.

So the Jewish political religious leaders were saying it wasn't enough to simply make a vow, you also had to put down some money. In other words, you have to put down a bond. This was basis of the religious practice that Jesus is referencing with the third woe.

They say an oath by the temple is nothing; "but whoever shall swear by the gold of the temple is obligated!"

This is the religious practice of taking an oath and paying money for it. Religion attached more importance to the gold than it did to the temple, so we have the principle of double legalism.

The first part of double legalism is that it is legalistic to take a vow by a sacred building; the second legalistic part was when they demanded payment for the vow to be established.

By making this declaration the Jewish political religious leaders were contending that gold is greater than the temple itself. Religion always places emphasis on money and religion always promotes the concept that you can buy your way into blessing and that you can buy your way into heaven.

Matt 23:17;a Jesus then calls them morons. The Greek phrase is "moros kai tuphlos" that means "morons and blind" Jesus does not mince words when He is dealing with religion and He says to the religious leaders: He says, "Morons," Today we would call them stupid idiots.

Jesus isn't angry. He loves these people and He is about to go to the cross and die for all of their sins. But He calls it exactly as he sees it. He calls them stupid idiots, not to insult them but to shock them in an effort to get them to recognize to their true condition just like a drill instructor might address recruits in boot camp.

It would be a sin to say this in anger but it is not a sin to say this for the purpose of instruction the emphasis is on the mental attitude behind the statement.

We see from this that if you call a person a stupid idiot without malice, without anger and without vindictiveness that's all right because the objective is to shock them into recognizing their failure.

Matt 23:17;b"Which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold?" Remember that the temple represents the Lord Jesus Christ and when money is given for temple service the money is to be used to serve the Lord's purposes.

Religion does just the opposite because it uses the temple as a means of getting money in order to serve it's own purposes.

Matt 23:18; Jesus elaborates. "And, whoever swears by the altar it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that it upon the alter is obligated."

Jesus repeats Himself to explain what He means. The Pharisees were saying that swearing by the altar didn't mean anything because money had to be put on the altar before the vow was accepted.

They were improperly using the temple as a system of certifying business transactions in order to enrich themselves. To make a vow or to take an oath by offering money is equivalent to posting bond that you will keep your word.

For the religious political leaders making an oath or taking a vow on the temple or the altar was not as strong as forfeiting money.

To them the money on the altar was of more value than the altar. To them the gold that was brought to the temple was more important than the temple itself.

Religion always emphasizes money. It emphasizes the things of satan's world rather than the things of God so it always focuses on money, materialism and doing human good works rather than the grace and truth that the temple and the alter revealed from ritual plan of God.

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