Matthew 23:2 “…the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat”
They didn’t give the law as Moses did, but they told the people what the law said and how to observe it. Problem was that they said one thing and did something else. They themselves didn’t follow the law. The people were to do as we do today, keep the scriptures as the standard. Follow the scriptures, not a person other than Christ.
4 “…they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear…”
Some question here. Some commentaries suggest He is referring to the strict adherence to the law demanded by the Pharisees as well as their additions to the law which made them burdensome. Others suggest Jesus wouldn’t have told them to follow manmade traditions and is only referencing the demanding nature of Pharisees while not holding themselves to the same standards. I can see both ways. If you only consider the law as it stands then you’re saying that God was placing heavy burdens on the people. I know it’s not possible to be saved by keeping the law, but the law could be kept without being burdensome. And forgiveness was allowed. Jesus Himself said who doesn’t have an oxen in the ditch on the Sabbath and goes ahead and pulls it out. The law allowed that, but the Pharisees definition of work allowed on the Sabbath would not. They either didn’t allow for forgiveness which was in the spirit of the law or they made the law burdensome beyond what anyone could achieve.
5 “…phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments”
Boxes to hold the scriptures worn on the forehead. Made them big and bold to stand out. The borders were decorative among the priests. They were making them flamboyant, larger than necessary to stand out.
8 “…One is your Teacher, the Christ…”
Not that a person can’t be a teacher, one who transfers knowledge to another. But everything comes from Christ. He is the Teacher. Earthly teachers are only supposed to share what He has already said, not make it up on their own.
9 “Do not call anyone on earth your father…”
The idea here is similar to the previous. Don’t put anyone in the place of God or Christ. We have direct access to Him. We don’t need an intermediary. This is the main problem I have with Catholicism and their use of a pope and calling their ministers father. Christ is the head of the church, any church, and only He can say through the scriptures what is and is not. We direct our prayers directly to our Father, not some stand-in who wants to be called father.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”
Beginning of a series of woes which He pronounced on the Pharisees.
23-24 “…you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith…strain out a gnat and swallow a camel”
Mint, anise, and cummin were small spices. Pharisees were making sure they held to the letter of the law in tithing precise measurements of the tiniest of spices, yet they ignored things like justice and mercy. They supposedly did the most difficult while failing at the easiest. Jesus’s use of metaphor and hyperbole was awesome.
25 “…cleanse the outside…inside they are full of extortion…”
Only concerned by outward appearance. That was their main problem. No concern for truth, but only in appearing as though they followed the truth.
29 “…build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous”
Built memorials and monuments to the dead prophets and righteous of old to show their supposed appreciation for them. But it was a show also.
31 “…you are witnesses against yourselves…”
Pharisees wanted to say they weren’t like their predecessors who killed the prophets that God sent. But their actions were the same as those of old. They only had a pretense of keeping the law of God, an outward show. They may not have been involved in idol worship to false gods, but they had allowed keeping up appearances to become their idols. No true worship. It is no wonder they couldn’t recognize the Messiah when He arrived.
34 “…some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge…”
Bit of prophecy here. Several of the early church leaders and members were persecuted and killed by the religious leaders. Paul himself did so until he was converted.
35 “…Zechariah, son of Berechiah…”
Exact person unknown. Both names don’t fit what we have in the old testament. Could be something Jesus referenced by tradition or He may have used secondary names. I don’t think there is an error in the recording.
39 “…you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
Something of a final judgment. Israel as a nation won’t accept Christ until the end of the Tribulation period when they will have finally had enough and recognize Him as the Messiah. Not to say that Jews can’t be saved now, just that as a nation they will reject Him until He returns.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.