May 23. Jesus Denounces the Scribes and Pharisees in His Last Public Teaching

Mt. 23:1-39; Mk. 12:38-40; Lk. 20:45-47

Jesus turned His attention from the Jewish leaders and began to speak more directly to the apostles and the other people assembled in the temple at that time. He instructed them to follow the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees, but to avoid their examples.

As He spoke, Jesus directed some of His most harsh criticism toward the scribes and Pharisees because of their hypocrisy. They were guilty of making a big show of their religion by the garments they wore, the desire to be in the places of honor and praying long prayers only to be seen of men. Humility is an attribute that was lacking among these people.

By opposing Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees were blocking the kingdom of heaven—not going in themselves nor allowing others to enter either.

Jesus pronounced a series of woes upon the scribes and Pharisees. He denounced them for their hypocritical actions, mistreating of widows, spiritual blindness, attention to small things but overlooking major issues and for having unclean hearts. He compared them to decorated tombs that looked good on the outside, but inside contained dead bodies.

As Jesus continued to warn the people to avoid the sins of the scribes and Pharisees, He began to warn them of the destruction of Jerusalem. He expressed His desire to shelter them as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but they were not willing.