Matthew 23

Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

(a) You have neglected the weightier provisions of the law. The self-righteous man takes pride in his law-keeping, but in truth he only obeys those rules which are easy. The hard laws he dismisses. “They was for another time and place.” Thus the self-righteous man is a lawbreaker and a hypocrite (Jas. 2:10). Being lukewarm, he is further from grace than the sinners he despises.

(b) Justice and mercy. To a nation burdened with the heavy yoke of law, the cry for mercy was never far away. The law makes us acutely aware of our shortcomings and needs. Mercy is God showing compassion to those in need.

Matthew 23:35

so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Righteous Abel. Before the cross, no one could be made righteous. The gift of righteousness had not been given and the “one act of righteousness” had not be done (Rom. 5:18). Yet Old Testament saints such as Abraham were credited with righteousness on account of their faith in God (see entry for Rom. 4:3). Abel had some understanding of God’s path of salvation and was judged righteous on account of his faith (1 John 3:12, Heb. 11:4).

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