Blessings & Woes from Jesus

Part 1

This page begins a study of the *8 Woes* that Jesus pronounced upon the Scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem.

  • In New Testament days, the people of Israel were under the rule of the Roman Empire. Thus the Jews had to obey Roman civil laws.
  • With respect to their day to day lives, however, the central rule of life for the Jews was Torah -- the Law of Moses, as set forth in the first 5 books of the Bible.
  • The strictest interpretation of Torah was done by the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees. They were the extreme religious fundamentalists of those days, and exerted a major influence over the religious practices and beliefs of the Jews.
  • Under the sway of the Scribes and Pharisees, the Jewish religion had become coldly legalistic, and was heavily steeped in human traditions. -->
  • Jesus persistently taught that entry to God's kingdom is based on faith and repentance -- NOT on traditions and laws.
  • Because of what the Lord was teaching, the Jewish religious leaders sought to execute Him on the cross.
  • The New Testament records several confrontations between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders.
  • Over the next several web pages, we will study one of those confrontations, during which Jesus pronounced *8 woes* upon the Scribes and Pharisees.
  • You and I can learn a LOT from studying *The Woes*. Why? Because legalism, traditionalism, and "church-ianity" are just as much a danger now as they were back then. Perhaps even more so.

*8 Woes*
Announced by Lord Jesus

  • 1- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men.
  • 2- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows' houses, and pray at length as a pretense.
  • 3- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
  • 4- Woe to you, blind guides, who say, "Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it."
  • 5- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.
  • 6- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
  • 7- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
  • 8- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, "If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets."

Extracted from Mt 23.13-30

Jesus never once lost His temper. But some Bible passages can almost make you THINK He did. Read Matthew 23:13-36 and see if you don’t agree. In actuality, Jesus merely displayed godly sorrow over what sin was doing to people. Jesus hates sin, but He loves the sinner.

Do you remember a time in your life when you tried to teach someone (perhaps a son or daughter) something you thought was easy to grasp, yet for some reason the person you were teaching just couldn’t get it? Wasn’t there a moment of frustration forming inside of you that caused you to raise your voice a little and say under your breath: “Okay, let’s try this again?”

With kids, teaching simple truths over and over again is understandable. Not so with adults. Jesus was faced with the task of trying to teach the Pharisees some simple truths that they should have understood, but they just couldn’t get it.
  The reason? They were “blinded” (Mt 23:16, 17, 19, 24, 26). And spiritually blind people are some of the hardest and most frustrating people to teach.

What causes spiritual blindness?
The cause is Hypocrisy! No other sin besides unbelief will damage and doom a Christian into a realm of blindness more than the sin of hypocrisy. Notice how often Jesus mentioned that word (Mt 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29).

So Jesus, in holy frustration, in painful sorrow, in hatred of sin, pronounced eight (8) woes on the Pharisees for their spiritual blindness fed by their hypocrisy.

Sometimes the best way to see the truth is to show its antithesis. I will do this by contrasting the Lord's *8 Woes* in Matthew chapter 23, with the Lord's *8 Blessings* in Matthew chapter 5.

*8 Blessings*
Announced by Lord Jesus

  • 1- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • 2- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  • 3- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
  • 4- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
  • 5- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
  • 6- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
  • 7- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
  • 8- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 5.3-8

Learning from the *Blessings* & *Woes*
On the remainder of this page you will study the contrast between what Jesus taught you with *Blessing #1* versus what He taught you with *Woe #1*.

In subsequent pages you will be able to study what the Lord wants you to learn from the 7 other woes & blessings that He pronounced.

READ ON! You have much to relish in the glorious teachings of your Lord and Savior!

Entering God’s Kingdom *versus* Shutting Up the Kingdom
The very first blessing that Jesus taught was that the “poor in spirit” [the humble] will enter God's kingdom of heaven.

The opposite of "humble" is "proud." And *proud* is exactly what the Pharisees were.

Because of their pride, the Pharisees not only kept themselves from entering God’s kingdom but, by virtue of their blindness and hypocrisy, they stood in the doorway and blocked others from going in as well.
  Blessing #1- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Mt 23.13

Woe #1- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men. Mt 5.3
Lucifer [the devil] was so proud that he actually thought he should be higher than God!

Lucifer's pride caused his downfall. In fact, pride can be the ruination of ANYONE - not just the devil!

Pride kicked Lucifer out of heaven, and it is pride that can bar human folks from God's kingdom, also.

Thus Jesus teaches that the fruit of pride is WOE, and -- to avoid that woe -- He exhorts us to be spiritually humble and innocent as little children.

[God said...] How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart:

"I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High." Isa 14.12-13

[Jesus said...] Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Mt 18.3

Although pride is self-inflating, it is also self-defeating.

  • How were you saved? Was it not by God's grace? (Eph. 2:8)
  • How do you stand in relation to Christ? Is it not by grace? (Rom. 5:2)
  • How do you grow? Is it not also by grace? (2 Pet. 3:18)?

So you were saved by grace, you stand by grace and you grow by grace, right?

Do you agree that *God's Amazing Grace* is absolutely essential to every aspect of your Christian life?

  For by grace you have been saved through faith Eph 2.8a

Through Christ we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand
Rom 5.2a

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
2 Pet 3.18
The Bible teaches you that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Those with proud spirits have nothing to stand on. But to the humble -- the "poor in spirit" -- God gives more grace.
  God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Jam 4.6b
If you are like me, and need more grace to live by, then heed what Jesus taught -- don't go for the woe that comes from having a proud and haughty spirit.   Woe #1- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men. Mt 5.3
Instead, go for the blessing that comes from having an humble heart.   Blessing #1- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Mt 23.13
Seek daily the joy and strength that will be yours when you walk with Christ in childlike trust. As you do so, you can BOLDLY lay hold of God's promise that "His grace is sufficient for YOU” -- no matter what hardships that life might throw your way!

Watch for the next installment of this study -- if the Lord tarries. Amen
  God said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Cor 12.9

To read Part 2 of this Series of studies...
Click HERE



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