“How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You shut people out of the kingdom of heaven. You don’t enter yourselves, and you won’t allow those who want to enter to do so. “How terrible it will be for you, legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You travel over sea and land to make one convert. But when they’ve been converted, they become twice the child of hell you are (Matthew 23:13-15, Common English Bible).
I sometimes have a really hard time understanding the Pharisees. In today’s lesson, Jesus says the Pharisees and legal experts keep people from reaching the kingdom of heaven. My question is a quick one-word question, WHY?
Perhaps the reason is that they have no interest in the kingdom of heaven for themselves. I am still, however, not sure why. Why would a religious person not have a desire for entering the kingdom of heaven? I can understand why an atheist or an agnostic might refuse to go there. For them, it is something unrealistic. It is something that does not exist or at least they question its existence. But here, we are not talking about an atheist or agnostic. We are talking about the most religious people in Biblical Israel and they have no interest apparently in eternity with God. That is too bad.
What I find most troubling is the idea of blocking the kingdom from others around them. If I am not interested it is one thing for me to make my declaration. It is another thing altogether to prevent others from moving forward.
Jesus talks about the lengths the Pharisees and legal experts would go to reach a convert. That is admirable. What is less than admirable is, apparently through their teaching or perhaps their lack thereof, these converts became worse than the Pharisees and the legal experts.
I am not sure this is what Jesus meant in this passage but it is the place I am going to choose to go. It has always bothered me when we go to great lengths to reach people in the name of Jesus Christ and then once a profession of faith is made, we leave them to fend for themselves. Does our lack of follow through leave these people, these converts to the faith worse off than they were before we arrived on the scene?
It is up to us to demonstrate through our actions and not just our words the importance of being a part of a worshipping community, to join together with other believers in corporate Bible study and corporate prayer and to be part of small groups, be it Sunday school or some other group for both education and accountability. I believe that when we don’t demonstrate such activity and when we do not lead and encourage such activity we are falling short of our responsibilities of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. That is our call.
How do you lead others to a full life of being a disciple of Christ?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved