Matthew 23:23-38 Fit For Garbage

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’[c]

Fit For Garbage

The Pharisees and Sadducees were not going to be able to escape from hell.    They killed the prophets and murdered their teachers.  They wanted to maintain a lifestyle of decorated emptiness.  We, too have a lifestyle which is empty and yet we all aspire to it.  I remember listening to a Eurythmics’ Shame in the late 80’s which had these lyrics:

Now there’s a lifestyle

With  painted lips

Now there’s a lifestyle

Everybody  wants it

But it don’t exist and I  said

Shame:  In the dance halls and the cinema

Shame: On the TV and the  media

Shame: We loved you”

Now  there’s a lifestyle

With fashion  chic

Now there’s a  lifestyle

Everybody in it wants to  be elite
And I said, You with  your brand new shoes and

You with  your greasy hair and

You with your  mother’s pride and poetry

Don’t you  want to feel the

Shame? In the dance  halls

Can’t you feel the  shame?

And the TV

Can’t you feel the shame?

We loved you, oh

It seems that we have only become more fixated on this kind of lifestyle.  It isn’t religious, but it has replaced faith in something transcendent with a façade that promises everything and delivers nothing.

Help us not to get sucked into the fashion chic that has all eyes on us in the club.


  1. What lives do the Pharisees cultivate?
  2. Why does Jesus condemn them?
  3. What is Jesus foreshadowing?
  4. What fake lives do people lust after today?
  5. What is better about following Jesus than building an empire where we are emulated and adored?


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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