Jesus’ Life: Chapter 13 – Jesus’ Final Ministry In Jerusalem
When Jesus came to this earth he lived among the Jewish people. He dearly wanted them to listen to his word and follow his ways. Sadly, many didn’t!
Perhaps, Jesus’ determination to bring his new Gospel to the Jews is captured in this short fictional story:
Story: A farmer went into his barn after a severe fire to survey the damage. He found a hen sitting on her nest, dead. As he lifted her charred body, her chicks scurried out, saved by their mother’s sacrifice.
Message: That is what Jesus wanted to do for Israel. He would have died in a fire so the people could be saved, but they were lost because they did not come under His wings for shelter. Indeed, Jesus accepted his death on the Cross, still hoping they would listen.
What were the practices Jesus warned the Jews about?
Jesus cautioned them against hypocrisy or what we now often refer to as the seven woes.
Some of the woes are difficult to understand because they were aimed at the Jewish way of life two thousand years ago. However, most readily ring true for us today:
1. You hypocrite… you do not practice what you preach.
2. You hypocrite… you tie up heavy loads for others to carry but won’t carry them yourself.
3. You hypocrite… you do all your deeds in a way that others will see or hear.
4. You hypocrite… you occupy places of high honour, on stage and in public view.
5. You hypocrite… you expect others to address you using elaborate greetings and titles.
The actual language used by Jesus was very harsh. For example, he said:
“Woe to you… hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside, you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness”.
“Woe to you… hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too!” (Matthew 23:1-36, Mark 12:37-40b, Luke 20:45-47)
Are your good works done for only others to see and you to be congratulated?
Jesus warned against expecting instant rewards for everything we do. Otherwise, he said, if we have been rewarded here on earth, there will be nothing for God to credit us for!
When you do something, do it because YOU want to help others. God asks for humility, not self-praise.
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to any hypocrisy that may lie behind my actions today. May my work be a true reflection of the sincere love I have for you. Thank you, Jesus.
Prayer: Faith (Adapted Unknown Author)
Lord, let my faith be full and unreserved
and let it penetrate my thoughts.
Lord, let my faith be joyful
and give peace and gladness to my spirit.
Lord, let my faith be humble
and let it surrender to the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Amen.