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(MATTHEW 23:1-39) (The Fifth Collection of the Words of Jesus)

1. Rebuke of the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-7)
1Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.3Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.4For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.5But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.6They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,7greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ (Numbers15:38-39, Malachi2:7-8, Matthew6:1-8,11:28-30, Luke14:7-11, Acts15:10,28, Romans2:21-23)

Jesus acknowledged the authority and office of the Pharisees as successors of Moses: as such, they were to teach sound doctrine based on the Old Testament scriptures. The Lord considered this job essential, and encouraged His disciples to apply themselves to the careful study of the scriptures and prophets, and to accept the interpretation of the scribes.
The Pharisees sat in Moses' seat, not as mediators between God and Israel, but as implementers of the law (Exodus 18:26). They were not the law-giving authority like the Sanhedrin, but interpreted the commandments of the law and urged people to apply them.
It is not enough to simply know the law with its 613 commandments. The important thing is to apply it. It is easier to teach or interpret the law than it is to obey it. None of us is perfect, but woe to him who imposes duties upon others which he is not himself willing to submit to. This is hypocrisy. Anyone who imposes the observation of ordinances and commandments, with more strictness and severity than God Himself, is not a teacher of the New Testament but is still in the tradition of the Pharisees.
Jesus taught that anyone who breaks even one commandment and teaches others to do the same deserves judgment (Matthew 5:19). His sin is considered the same as if he had neglected the whole law (James 2:10), for whoever disobeys any commandment transgresses against God Himself. Though the teachers of law knew that they were also under judgment because of their transgressions against the Lord's commandments, they ignored the truth, clinging to the traditions of their elders. They followed many customs such as tying their hands with leather belts during prayer and ablution, and sewing fringes on garments (each of which indicated a commandment, order, or prohibition). They created many rules and rituals to silence their consciences and appease their guilt. They stressed the keeping and applying of the law without necessarily applying it themselves.
A good place can be occupied by bad men. It is nothing new for the vilest men to be exalted even to Moses' seat (Psalm 12:8). When it happens, the men are not so much honored by the seat as the seat is dishonored by the men. The profession of godliness can become more important than godliness itself, and the pride of such people changes worship into hypocrisy and blasphemy. The hypocrites of Jesus' time were publicly rebuked by Him: He explained to them that they loved the traditions of men more than the commandments of God (Matthew 15:9).

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank You because You reproached the hypocrites who preach the observance of the commandments which they themselves do not observe. They rather pretend godliness in front of others while they are devils themselves. Forgive us every wrong word we have spoken and our pretense that we are not hypocrites when we talk about godliness but don't practice it. Keep us from hypocrisy and help us to be upright in word and deed at all times. Guide us to a spiritual repentance and to a wise testimony.
Why did Jesus rebuke the scribes and the Pharisees of His time?