Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
In this, the last of the seven woes, Jesus wraps this passage up by decrying the heinous acts of past religious leaders and ties them to the ones of his age. Interesting how he uses the phrase "brood of vipers" - this was the name that John the Baptist used to describe these religious leaders. As he speaks to them of past persecutions of prophets he most certainly had John on his mind and the way that they rejected his message. Also interesting how he speaks prophetically of the way he himself will die.
And lest we smugly sit and say that these things no longer happen, I might remind you of how the messages of a men like Martin Luther were once rejected. Also notable is the way that many in our day are spoken ill of and treated as heretics because they do not pass tests of orthodoxy. Sometimes I think that few things have changed except what is lawful to do with people charged with heresy. I wonder what our culture would look like if some religious leaders were in charge? Perhaps many prophets would be in jail?
Open up my ears and eyes Lord so that I do not reject the messages of your prophets.