Sad But Solemn Words of Condemnation
Text: Matthew 23 : 1 - 39
How Jesus must have felt sad as He spoke to the scribes and the Pharisees. His words may have been scorching, but they were never spoken with malice.
“Serpents, brood of vipers!
How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men,
and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify,
and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues
and persecute from city to city,
that on you may come all the righteous blood shed
on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel
to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah,
whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon
“The Condemnation of Hell”
Would the scribes and Pharisees at least take heed that their misdeeds could lead them to be condemned to hell? Jesus had to give them stern warning that one day they would be judged for their sins! The consequences would be terrifying then! Would they not cease and desist from their wrong-doings?
“Prophets, wise men, scribes”
God had always sent Israel His servants. Many paid with their lives, trying to reach out to this hostile nation! That was the irony of it all! If anyone should receive these servants of God with open arms – it would be people like the scribes and the Pharisees – for they knew the Scriptures! However, the opposite was true! They mistreated these servants of God from the earliest times!
In this text, Jesus spoke about how He would send His disciples as prophets, wise men and scribes. However, He predicted that they too would suffer the same fate as their predecessors.
“From the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah”
It is interesting to note how Jesus strung the Biblical historical records together. He mentioned how righteous Abel was slain by his wicked brother! When the scribes and Pharisees plotted to kill the servants of God sent to the nation, were they not as guilty of slaying their own brothers?
The mention of Zechariah is also fascinating. Let us look at the possible reference to a man called Zechariah, the son of the priest Jehoida (Matthew called him “son of Berechiah”).
“Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son
of Jehoida the priest, who stood above the people, and said
to them, ‘Thus says God:, “Why do you transgress the
commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper?
Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you.” ”
So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king
They stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord.'”
2 CHRONICLES 24:20-21
The point of what Jesus was saying must be carefully understood. The righteous had always been victimized by the wicked! Israel was not free of wicked people! From the earliest times to the latter days when Israel was ruled by kings, wickedness had been allowed to prevail! Being in the very house of the Lord did not prevent people from perpetrating wicked deeds! Israel was horribly guilty of these heinous crimes!
LAMENT OVER JERUSALEM
Finally, Jesus brought His pronouncement of “Woes” to an end. There was only deep sadness as He spoke the last few words to the crowd.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets,
and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted
to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks
under her wings, but you were not willing.
See! Your house is left to you desolate;
for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say,
‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!'”
“You were not willing”
Jesus would never force Himself upon anyone, not even if He loved Jerusalem dearly. If the people were not willing to receive Jesus, He would not force them!
“Your house is left to you desolate”
Did the people realize what they were doing when they rejected Jesus? They had slain the prophets of God, and they were severely punished for their sinfulness! Did they think that there would be no consequences when they plotted to kill the Messiah? Dire consequences would come upon them! Jerusalem would end up “desolate”.
“You shall see Me no more…”
Jesus’ earthly sojourn was going to end soon! Yet, few understood the significance of these words! What would the multitudes miss when Jesus is gone? Would they only miss His healing power? Was that all Jesus was to the people – a means to an end?
Had they not been able to appreciate that He had indeed come in the Name of the Lord? He was the Messiah who came as their Redeemer! He would one day return as the Messiah-King. These words were uttered with both joy and gloom!