Nov 5 – 22 Pentecost
Matthew 23:1-12
Jesus Denounces Scribes and Pharisees

Background: Matthew tells the story of Jesus’ life with the most Jewish tone of the four Gospels. The text provides a clear insight into Jesus’ teaching and a moral guideline for the Christian community. This passage falls in what is postulated as the final of five sections in Matthew; the focus of this section is Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem.

Theme: Jesus continues his impeachment of the bankrupt Jewish leaders and their rejection of the Messiah. Jesus also provides commentary about success and greatness when compared in the human and spiritual realms. Jesus’ commentary continues the attack on the corrupted Judaism passed on by the Pharisees and those in power.

Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Matthew 23:1-12.
* Place this reading in context; where does it take place, who are the characters, what is the relationship between the characters, etc.?
* What was the symbolism of phylacteries and fringes? To what do those terms refer? Why might the Pharisees celebrate their long phylacteries?
* What was “Moses’ seat”? To what do you think the term refers? Was the “Moses’ seat” an actual thing or was it something else?
* It appears Jesus is supporting the teaching of the bible but not how the teachings are carried out. Do you think this is what Jesus is rebuking?
* What traits or practices do you think Jesus is condemning and commending in this passage?
* Do you think this passage supports a practical theology of “do as they say, not as they do”? Why might Jesus give the crowds this direction?
* What burdens do you imagine Jesus is speaking about in his condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees?
* What is the contrast between “father [on earth]” and “one Father [in heaven]”?
* What do you think the distinction between “instructor” and “one instructor [the Messiah]”?
* What is the principle offered by Jesus to guide the orthodox life of believers?
* What is the meaning of this passage today?
* How are we impacted by the practices Jesus mentions in this passage?