Woe to you, you teachers of the law and Pharisees. There is such a gulf between what you say and what you do. ... You steal the homes from under the widows while you pretend to pray for them. ... You traverse hills and mountains and seas to make one convert, and then when he does convert, you make him much more a son of hell than you are. [Matthew 23:13-15 VOICE]
These are the first of the seven woes that Jesus speaks to hypocritical religious leaders.
These are some of the harshest condemnations that Jesus issues to spiritual leaders.
In his words here Jesus describes them as people who are:
- ignorant of the true nature of the kingdom of God;
- only concerned with gathering followers for themselves;
- keeping people from experiencing authentic spiritual life.
Really. More specifically living by their legalistic interpretations of the law.
This phenomena remains to this day and still causes damage.
Author Rob Bell speaks of people being influenced by interpretations of the scriptures.
He says that folks have been taught exactly how the Bible is to be interpreted.
Folks who disagree with those interpretations are told they do not believe the bible.
Spiritual life is often robbed from many by legalistic religious leaders.
These modern day Pharisees are still making rules about food, movies and television.
Sadly they teach a reliance on one specific method of biblical interpretation.
Instead of helping people to discern the scriptures they teach dogma instead.
These see the bible as a closed book rather than an unfolding mystery.
In this sense they remain closed to discovery and not open to interpretation.
Open my eyes Lord to new ways of seeing the scriptures.
... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.