On my journey through the Greek NT I have landed on Matthew 22-24. This is the section where Jesus warns the people about the scribes and Pharisees and then goes on to trash them for a while. One of the main benefits of reading the NT in Greek is that it forces me to slow down. Instead of reading Jesus rebuking the Jewish leaders for five minutes I’m reading it for forty minutes. The rebuke is therefore that much more powerful. The Greek is more abrupt then the English translations. Jesus regularly lets out single word insults. It has the same feeling as when someone does something stupid and another yells out “Idiot!”
Six times Jesus says, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees – hypocrites!” To mix it up a little, in verse 17 he says “Woe to you blind guides.” Then he shifts to briefer insults like “Fools and blind men.” After several more insults he says in verse 26 “O blind Pharisee.” My favorite one, after the whitewashed tomb bit, is verse 33, “Snakes, children of vipers, how will you escape from the judgment of hell?” Presumably the Pharisees didn’t then burst into song – “Yes Jesus Loves Me.” I wonder if this influenced their decision to kill him?
I have to remember to not be like them, especially since the Pharisees were the good guys in those days. They believed the whole Bible, unlike the Sadducees who only believe in the first five books. The Pharisees fasted every week and for all appearances tried to do what God commanded. If there had been religious bookshops in those days, their books would have been the main sellers among the devout.
My take away from this is that we are to be as humble and genuine as we can. To not judge by appearance. To let everything we do be about loving God and loving people, and to not miss the forest for the trees. And to seek to be honored by God, not by man.