Matthew 23:1-12 Pharisees and Politicians

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Pharisees and Politicians

Dear Jesus, it’s easy to kiss a baby.  It’s easy to stand up and in an instant say the words that your audience wants to hear.  It’s easy to say a few reassuring words to your wife.  It’s easy to say that things will change.  It’s hard to impossible to maintain changes over time.  It’s impossible Jesus, for us to make ourselves pure on the inside so that we come to you blameless.  Jesus, you make us pure.  You clean us up.

Help us not to put on a show on the outside that is not sincere to the core.  Help us to notice when we are being false.  Make us aware of who we truly are, so that we might more fully depend on you.  Help our thoughts to be centered on you for your sake.  Right living begins with right actions. Right actions begin with right thinking.  Right thinking begins with right thinking about God (Thrasher).


  1. What righteous things did Pharisees do?
  2. Why were these actions pointless?
  3. Do you think Jesus loved Pharisees?  Why did he speak to them so harshly?
  4. How authentic are you with your family, friends and colleagues?
  5. How does Jesus want to meet with you to change you?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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