February 3/Matthew 23

This is the last public sermon given by Jesus and O what a Stinger it was! When parents are leaving for a night out and the kids are staying home with the oldest one as the babysitter; Mom will usually say something that is most important that is on her heart like; “the phone number where we can be reached is on the notepad on the kitchen counter. Call 911 if you have an emergency. I made a list of the programs you can watch on tv. Don’t slap your sister and be in bed by 10pm.

Wow look at what was on Jesus’ heart in his last public sermon. For 3 years his message has been one of the grace and goodness of the Father. That message didn’t seem to have an impact on the religious people of the day so now he gets on these people with a message of judgment. Some people don’t respond to the Good News about Jesus, we need to discern if they need to hear a message on the judgment of God if they don’t receive his grace and goodness. We all will be judged on what we did with Jesus > received him or rejected him. Have you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Does your life show it? Jesus condemns hypocrites in this chapter.

Hypocrites are people who say one thing and do another or they act one way with a certain crowd and another way with a different crowd. For example you might teach your children to not belittle their siblings and yet you talk down about your boss all the time! You might teach your children how to select good television programs but when you are all alone you watch trashy stuff that you would have disciplined them for watching. Some people put on a good show when they are around other Christians but when they are off hanging out with the softball crowd their language and behavior changes.

These religious people that Jesus was addressing taught the people the commandments of loving God and loving their neighbors and yet they were constantly trying to kill God’s son! Go figure that one. They were actually leading people away from Jesus by saying that he had demon and that he was a partier and a wine guzzler. They always criticized him for hanging out with sinful people. They wouldn’t hang out with Gentiles because they considered them unclean. They shunned these people and yet the Old Testament that they taught people said that the Jews were to be light to the gentiles to lead them to God.

Isaiah 49:6 (NLT) — 6 He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

As you read through this chapter you find that Jesus says that true spiritual leaders, and we are all spiritual leaders because everyone of us has a sphere of influence, have integrity, humility, sympathy, and God-given authority. True spiritual leaders avoid lofty ‘Titles’ and they accept lowly tasks. Jesus avoided the titles and honors that people wanted to heap on him in his early ministry and he humbled himself and ate with sinners, washed feet, and touched lepers.

Why is it so hard to get the majority of people in the Church to do the lowly tasks like nursery, clean up, meeting and greeting people,  and teaching children and adolescents about Jesus? Are we thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought too?

Remember what John the Baptist said when people asked who he was?> John 1:23 (NLT) — 23 “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’ ”

We are just voices for the Lord Jesus. No more no less and we back up our word with action!

These religious leaders here in this chapter that Jesus condemns were supposed to represent God to the people but they didn’t. How am I doing and how are you doing as a representative of Jesus?

Colossians 3:17 (NLT) — 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

If we receive Jesus and live for Jesus and model him to others we are true spiritual leaders and we avoid the Judgment! We will hear Jesus say, “Well done” instead of “what sorrow awaits you.”

Be Inspired Hilltop!


  1. As I have been reading through Matthew, I noticed that when Jesus got angry, He was angry at the religious people — the ones who were judging others and seeking to find fault. However, Jesus had compassion on those who were struggling and those who called out to Him, and he didn’t condemn them. Goes back to Matthew 7 — “Judge not – and you shall not be judged.”

  2. Mark Gundersen says

    Through most of this chapter Jesus condemns the religious leaders and teachers of the law. He looks at both their attitudes and actions. Then at the end of the chapter we get a look at the Father’s heart which is breaking due to the change of heart that occurred in the people between Palm Sunday and Good Friday.

  3. Joe DeLaCruz says

    As I read today’s lesson what comes to mind are all the televangelists we see on tv nowadays with their multimillion dollar amphitheaters, $1000 dollar suits, elaborate stage settings, etc etc etc. Such big talkers preaching about serving the needy and helping one another all while enjoying riches beyond measure. Pharisees. These hypocrites make me cringe. According to today’s lesson, there will be a reckoning for such behavior! Oh Lord please bless me with humility to have a servants heart and give me the ability to use my sphere of influence to glorify Your name. Help me to make wise choices and teach me to be a better man. Amen

  4. Nancy Symens says

    Pastor Dan and Mark, you guys are pulling out some great things that can help us to grow in our walk with the Lord.

    In vs 15-16, what stood out to me is that the children recognized Jesus as who He was..Son of David, Son of God. And their response to who He was, Was that they praised Him. They sang/shouted/danced…they gave Him praise with all they had. They didn’t care who was watching, who may be listening. Their minds were focused on Him. We can all gleen from this.

    Telling Him of all His Goodness, and thanking Him for it too…with our whole being. Sometimes it is easy to praise God. Sometimes it is very hard…like when we are in the midst of challenge/struggle/trouble/etc. I’ve been on both ends, and it IS hard to praise Him when life is really tough. This is where the ‘sacrifice/offering of praise’ that the Bible talks about, comes into play. There is a joy found in the midst of sacrificIng our praise, which is His Presence, And that is actually our strength (His Strength within us being built up). (“The joy of the Lord is my strength” found in Psalms). Lifting up our praise to Him for the sole purpose of that He is worthy….Not with the motive to GET something or try to manipulate Him into giving us something we need. But solely for the reason that He IS. He is worthy. Praise is for Him. Placing Him above my mess/my needs, above my job, above my spouse and kids, above it all. He is faithful. He is our absolute source. He will provide what we need in any and all our situations. He loves to bless us with His Goodness. He is Good. He loves us..it reminds me of a song we sang yesterday about He is a good good Father, that is who He is. He loves us and that is who we are…loved by Him.

    Many great things happen when we praise. Ps 8:2 tells us A couple things. It tells us that when we praise, His Strength rises up in us. Strength is part of His character within us. Pretty awesome, eh! Another thing that happens when we set our minds on Jesus and praise Him, it shuts the enemy up. Pretty awesome again! See Ps 8:2 below.

    Ps 8:2” You have built a stronghold by the songs of babies. Strength rises up With the chorus of singing children. This kind of praise Has the power to shut Satan’s mouth. Childlike worship will silence The madness of those who oppose you.”

    Matt 23:23 stood out to me… these guys were blind to God’s goodness. They were blind to the truth that the Living Word,Jesus, was there in flesh and blood, the Messiah…for their salvation and the world’s…for that personal relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They were works minded…Believing that by performing good works and doing meticulous things, even though these things were good and right to do, that they earned their way into God’s Kingdom. They put works at the highest priority over believing in the One True God. They had it backwards, didn’t they.

    There may be situations or periods of times in our lives that we have allowed to creep up and take ‘dominion’ and priority above the Word of God, above our personal time with the Lord. Or maybe we may have developed a callus or become blind to something that God has talked to us about ‘getting rid of’,and we tell Him..”later God. I don’t have the time or the energy right now.” or “that is such a little thing Lord, it isn’t going to matter in the scheme of my life.”. Oops..what has happened? We have just elevated our will above His will.

    Here’s another one: we can easily elevate spending time with people, or doing good things, above that ‘set aside’ personal time with our Lord. For example, Instead of spending our personal time with God, we get distracted or our hearts go out to our friends who need us, or we feel pulled in multiple directions, or our 24 hours seems more than full. We reshuffle our schedules and start to habitually fill in our God time with something/someone else. And we quickly get away from our time with our #1 Source of Life, Jesus, the Living Word. And as we do that, we begin to lose our Peace, our Joy, confusion can easily set in. Our priorities have changed. This can happen so innocently, so quickly, so easily.. I mean, really, we can justify and rationalize it all. After all, we are doing good, we are ministering to those in need, work needs more time, I can do it all myself, I don’t need anyone’s help, etc..we know the recordings that rerun and rerun in our heads. Well, we are listening to the wrong voice aren’t we..…”They need you, God won’t mind if you miss a little time with Him, He knows your heart, what’s a few days without reading the Bible or praying…etc”. I know many of us can relate, and it happens easily, quickly, and little by little.

    The Bible tells us we are in a fight of faith. And sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, especially until we form the habit, it can feel like a huge battle to put and keep our relationship with the Lord as our #1 priority In life, and take time to read His Word and pray/talk with Him. But God will not disappoint us! God will help us with the details of life. He will help us with how much time to spend with Him. He will help us…period. Small steps forward is how we make permanent progress. Little by little we take ground and gain victory.

    And when we miss the mark..…PRAISE GOD! He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He loves us. He is faithful to draw us near. He forgives us, He never gives up on us. He is grace. He will use somebody, or a song we hear, or anything and draws us back to Him, and our eyes are opened once again to Him, His Goodness, the God of Love. Our focus and our priority returns to Him and His will and the understanding of the timing with those good deeds. He helps us to sort things out. Yes, part of our Christian walk is to do good deeds, but not at the cost of affecting our personal relationship with Him. GOD IS GOOD. And He loves each and every one of us as His favorite. We are winners. We are being changed from glory to glory, more and more like Jesus. Be encouraged!

  5. Nancy Symens says

    Sorry, I guess my comment on Matt 21 got put in along with my comment on Matt 23:23. So search for the paragraph where it begins with” Matt 23:23 stood out to me…”