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100: The Pharisee’s Practices Pummeled

May 15, 2009

Major Text: Matthew 23:1-36

Harmony Texts:

Matt. 23:1-36      Mark 38-40      Luke 20:45-47

Key Verse: Matt. 23:11


  1. The Pharisee’s are in Powerful Positions Matt. 23:1-4
  2. The Pharisee’s are in Prestigious Positions Matt. 23:5-12
  3. The Pharisee’s are in Painful Positions Matt. 23:13-36


Right after answering the questions of the Sadducees and Pharisees, Jesus launches into defining the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and warning His disciples not to follow them. Jesus actually commends some of their teaching and recognizes they have a recognized position of leadership but they are misusing it. They do not practice what they preach. They are perfectly willing to put all sorts of demands on others but they are not willing to help others. They do not lead by example. They actually think they are above their teaching.

Their focus is on themselves. They desire personal attention, power, and prestige. More specifically, they wear fancy clothes, seek and command the best seats of honor, and expect to be praised by man and be called Rabbi. Jesus reminds His disciples that they are to be servants. That is the highest position in His Kingdom. The positions of Rabbi, Father, and Teacher are reserved for Jesus Christ. We are not to take over for God. We are to serve.

Jesus defines the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by pronouncing seven woes. They are as follows:

Woe #1: They stand in the way of people who want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. They will not enter and they also block others from entering.

Woe#2: They go to great expense and energy to convert people. And when they do, they teach them erroneous truths and actually lead them farther from the Truth.

Woe #3: They continue to value wealth over the place when seeking to worship. In other words, the beauty of the edifice is more important than who happens to reside in it. True worship involves a Person who happens to reside in that place.

Woe #4: They tithe but forget the principles of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You can not separate them. The tithe is meaningless unless accompanied with justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

Woe #5: They focus on outward appearances while being greedy and selfish on the inside. Put away “self” if you want to shine before your fellow man.

Woe #6 They give the appearance of being righteous but inside they are rotten and wicked. They look the part but do not live the part. They think they can fool God and man.

Woe #7: They honor the prophets ceremoniously but refuse to accept responsibility for killing them or for not listening to them. They honor their death but not their lives or their words. They refuse to acknowledge their sin and, therefore, are condemned to hell.


  1. Understand that the expectations of man are far different than the expectations of God.
  2. Recognize the negative impact of hypocrisy on others.
  3. Attract attention to God and not to yourself.

Hypocrisy is readily seen in leaders but rarely found in servants.

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