Day 20 | The Responsibility

Matthew 23:1-36

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

"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.

“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.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.

“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. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

“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. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

“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. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

“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.’

“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation."


Words: Andre Pekerti Read: 5 - 10 mins Published: 20 March 2024

I have found this passage to be one of the most challenging in my life and continues to be.  As a young person of 17 years, I vividly recalled a discussion in a high school psychology class about how not being hypocritical is challenging for me.  Walking the talk is challenging but it was an aspiration…


In Matthew 23:1-36, Jesus was saddened by what He saw the scribes and Pharisees were doing.  Seven times, Jesus said this: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.  I have taken what Jesus said to heart and aspire to walk the talk.  However, during one of our family devotion times recently, one of my children openly shared how I sometimes do not walk the talk.  So, a humbling reminder of Jesus’ words to me.  I shared with my family how, in my quiet time, I regularly pray David’s prayer (Psalm 139: 23-24) and ask God to search my heart and find ways to show and lead me to do what Jesus has taught.


As we reflect upon God’s Love, Grace, and Mercy for us – in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the words “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” took on new meaning.  The Holy Spirit reminds me that it is not through my own strength that I can aspire, let alone walk in God’s ways.  Philippians 2: 13-18 and Ephesians 2: 8-10 speak to Jesus’ challenging words.  Dawning that it is only through God’s grace and the Holy Spirit that I can do what Jesus taught.  “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” [Ephesians 2: 8-10 (NKJV)].


As we reflect upon Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, His challenging words become a loving reminder that our actions should neither be out of obligation nor aspiring to be seen; rather, they should simply reflect God’s love for us and our love for Him.  Jesus’ words remind us that our responsibility is to honour His gift, be His child and respond (responsus) to God’s Love, Grace and Mercy.

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