Jesus rarely showed anger, so when He did, those were the times we had better take heed and ask ourselves, why?! The one segment of the population that He showed the majority of His anger towards were the Pharisees and the like.
I submit that there was one prevailing reason why He chose these guys to pour the majority of His wrath on...spiritual abuse!!
The Pharisees took their knowledge and used it to crush people by enthusiastically pointing out their sins and getting them to see the weight and darkness of their deeds, because of not having the humility that comes from seeing their own utter sinfulness.
This intimidating attitude in turn caused them to forcefully "be in people's face" about those giant sins, and then as a result, any redemption that would be offered would seem quite small and ineffectual in comparison. So essentially, they, who looked and talked as though they represented God, completely misrepresented Him.
So, what the Pharisees actually did was to make people focus on their sin, instead of what is MUCH greater, the Redeemer that came to forgive all sin!
Most of the following verses are self-evident as to why the Pharisees were the obvious villains that they were...however, why is it apparent that so much of what Jesus said to them was recorded for us to read? To me, I see what was said to the Pharisees, was also meant for us as a warning, of what the gospel clearly is and what it isn't...to those who say they are presenting the gospel and to those who have been hurt by the Pharisees that are present today.
If you notice in verse 11...Jesus, after reminding the Pharisees of all the things they do to try to be great in God's Kingdom, He then tells them in just a few words what it truly takes! Becoming a servant of all.
Then in 13 Jesus tells them that their behavior turns people away from coming to God, and then when they do happen to make a convert in verse 15 that person becomes even worse than they are.
From there as we read down...then in verse 24 where it says that they 'strain gnats"....this was a wonderful metaphor of what it is to major on the very minor things, instead of majoring on the things that should be majored on.
The law spoke specifically about what they were not to eat, as in Deut. 14: "19All flying insects that swarm are unclean to you; do not eat them. 20But any winged creature that is clean you may eat." So, the Pharisees would sip their wine through their teeth so as to keep the gnats from being swallowed. This is what Jesus was referring to, that they were very careful about not swallowing gnats, but they absolutely ignored the important things that were so apparent!
Then as we read through to verses 29-36 God is telling them how they say they revere the Prophets, yet the ones God is sending today to speak the truth, they are fighting against....and they will not be the only ones that are accountable for this harm, but also those that allow this to happen.
Then He ends with His ultimate and contrasting desire....that we all be gathered together, and realize His mercy and tenderness, as His dear children.
Matthew 23: 1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2"The scribes and the Pharisees teach with Moses' authority. 3So be careful to do everything they tell you. But don't follow their example, because they don't practice what they preach. 4They make loads that are hard to carry and lay them on the shoulders of the people. However, they are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5"They do everything to attract people's attention. They make their headbands large and the tassels on their shawls long.
6They love the place of honor at dinners and the front seats in synagogues. 7They love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have people call them Rabbi. 8But don't make others call you Rabbi, because you have only one teacher, and you are all followers.
9And don't call anyone on earth your father, because you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Don't make others call you a leader, because you have only one leader, the Messiah. 11The person who is greatest among you will be a servant of all. 12Whoever honors himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be honored.
13"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You don't enter it yourselves, and you don't permit others to enter when they try.
15"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You cross land and sea to recruit a single follower, and when you do, you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are.
16"How horrible it will be for you, you blind guides! You say, 'To swear an oath by the temple doesn't mean a thing. But to swear an oath by the gold in the temple means a person must keep his oath.' 17You blind fools! What is more important, the gold or the temple that made the gold holy? 18Again you say, 'To swear an oath by the altar doesn't mean a thing. But to swear an oath by the gift on the altar means a person must keep his oath.'
19You blind men! What is more important, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy? 20To swear an oath by the altar is to swear by it and by everything on it. 21To swear an oath by the temple is to swear by it and by the one who lives there. 22And to swear an oath by heaven is to swear by God's throne and the one who sits on it.
23"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give [God] one-tenth of your mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the most important things in Moses' Teachings. You should have done these things without neglecting the others. 24You blind guides! You strain gnats, but you swallow camels.
25"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of cups and dishes. But inside they are full of greed and uncontrolled desires. 26You blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cups and dishes so that the outside may also be clean.
27"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed graves that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead people's bones and every kind of impurity. 28So on the outside you look as though you have God's approval, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of those who had God's approval. 30Then you say, 'If we had lived at the time of our ancestors, we would not have helped to murder the prophets.' 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Go ahead, finish what your ancestors started! 33"You snakes! You poisonous snakes! How can you escape being condemned to hell?
34I'm sending you prophets, wise men, and teachers of the Scriptures. You will kill and crucify some of them. Others you will whip in your synagogues and persecute from city to city. 35As a result, you will be held accountable for all the innocent blood of those murdered on earth, from the murder of righteous Abel to that of Zechariah, son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36I can guarantee this truth: The people living now will be held accountable for all these things.
37"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone to death those sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing! 38Your house will be abandoned, deserted. 39I can guarantee that you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
A Pastor I had a number of years ago once said, that if each and every human being truly realized the darkness of the sin that came into the world at the fall, of which we each are an equal part of, it would literally crush us. Conversely if we actually realized the profound love that God had that prompted Him to carry out His plan of redemption, we would not be able to contain it to where we would jump up and then run down the street screaming!
We must engage the mind and heart of Christ to get things done for the Kingdom...and make Him our pilot, not co-pilot. Repent of putting our opinions and attitudes ahead of God's. Let Christ's love lead...as He commanded. Become a servant of all. Eph. 4:15