‘And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
(a) Forgive us our sins. Jesus taught the disciples to pray for the forgiveness of sins and on the cross he answered their prayer.
On the cross the Lamb of God bore the sins of the whole world (John 1:29, 2 John 2:2). All your sins, past, present, and future, have been forgiven or carried away as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). On the night he rose from the dead, Jesus told the disciples to preach the remission of sins or the good news of unconditional forgiveness (see entry for Luke 24:47).
(b) We ourselves also forgive everyone. This is the same message Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:12), but without the law. There is none of the conditional forgiveness of Matthew 6:14-15.
Jesus preached old covenant law to those under the law, but as the messenger of the new covenant, he also demonstrated and proclaimed unconditional forgiveness that came through the cross (Matt. 9:2, 18:27, Luke 7:42, 47, 23:34).
But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
To hear the word of God and observe it is to repent and believe the good news of Jesus. Jesus is the Living Word of God (John 1:1, 14, Rev. 19:13). He is the Word of life (1 John 1:1) who imparts life to those who trust him.
The people of Nazareth are an example of those who heard the word of God but did not heed it (Luke 4:28).
See entry for Word of God.
“The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
(a) The men of Nineveh. How can the men of Nineveh stand in judgment since they died before the heard about Jesus? We can only speculate, but it’s possible that Jesus, after he was crucified, descended to the depths and preached the gospel to those who were in the grave (1 Pet. 4:6). See also the entry for Eph. 4:8.
(b) Repented. To repent means to change your mind. In context, it means changing your mind about Christ and the goodness of God (Rom. 2:4). “Change your unbelieving mind and believe the glad tidings of God’s grace and forgiveness” (see Mark 1:15). Jesus is talking about people who heard the gospel and believed it.
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
(a) Woe does not mean “God will punish you!” It’s an expression of distress or deep sorrow. When Jesus says, “Woe to those who are pregnant and nursing babies in those days” (Matt. 24:19), he’s expressing grief.
(b) Mint and rue. “You’ve got life back to front. You’re hung up on the small things – herbs, for pity’s sake! – and you’ve missed the big things.”
(c) Disregard justice and the love of God. To a nation burdened with the heavy yoke of law, the cry for justice and mercy was never far away. The law makes us acutely aware of our shortcomings and our need for mercy. The Pharisees laid down the law (as they saw fit) but neglected to tell people about the great love of God.
“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. “So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs.
(a) Tombs. The scribes and Pharisees tended the tombs of the prophets and martyrs, but Jesus was unimpressed. Their attempts to honor the dead were a sham. In their hearts they had more in common with the killers than the prophets they killed. “The tombs you build are monuments to your murdering ancestors” (MSG).
(b) Approve the deeds of your fathers. These sons of murderers were just like their forebears. Jesus knew these men would kill him and they did it within the week. He also knew that they would kill and persecute his apostles (see next verse).
“For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute,
(a) Kill. Self-righteous religion ministers death to those who practice it and those who oppose it (2 Cor. 3:7).
(b) Persecute. Jesus told the religious leaders that they would scourge and persecute those he sent, then he told his disciples that they would be scourged and persecuted. See entry for Mark 13:9.
so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’
(a) Blood of Abel. “You’re going to pay for the blood of Abel and Zechariah.” See entry for Matt. 23:35.
(b) Charged or “required” in the sense that sin has consequences. Sow death, and you’ll reap death.
(c) This generation. The murderous Jews had sowed to the wind and would, within a generation, reap the whirlwind. See entry for Luke 21:32.
“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”
(a) Woe to you lawyers! The lawyers of all people should have understood the proper purpose of the law which is to bring us to the end of ourselves and expose our need for grace. The law is a signpost to Jesus (Gal. 3:24).
Further reading: “What is the purpose of the law?”
(b) The key of knowledge is the law that unlocks the proudest heart revealing our need for grace. In a broader sense, it is the Old Testament.
The lawyers and religious leaders were the gatekeepers to the scriptures that pointed to the Messiah (John 5:39). If they had done their job, the nation of Israel would have eagerly received Jesus when he came. But they did not use the key they had been given and as a result they remained outside of the kingdom.
(b) You did not enter the kingdom of God. In pronouncing woe over the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus is lamenting their disastrous choices. “You’re not entering the kingdom of heaven.” This is terrible. “Nor do you allow others to enter.”
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