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This is the last sermon in our series on the Woes of Jesus. Feel free to leave a comment or download the podcast on iTunes.
This is the last time the Pharisees are mentioned in the book of Matthew
The last words Jesus speaks to the Pharisees are here, and they are words of Judgement. In these 7 woes it is as if Jesus has said everything he needs to say and there is nothing left for people who aren’t going to change anyway.
He finishes off his woes with, in my opinion the harshest words he has ever spoken.
Prayer: Jesus, we don’t want to be like this.
29 “How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 You say, ‘If we had lived in our ancestors’ days, we wouldn’t have joined them in killing the prophets.’ 31 You testify against yourselves that you are children of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, complete what your ancestors did. 33 You snakes! You children of snakes! How will you be able to escape the judgment of hell? 34 Therefore, look, I’m sending you prophets, wise people, and legal experts. Some of them you will kill and crucify. And some you will beat in your synagogues and chase from city to city. 35 Therefore, upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been poured out on the earth, from the blood of that righteous man Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. 36 I assure you that all these things will come upon this generation.
These are harsh words? So what do we do with them?
Verse 29 – covers up the past
It was horrible but if we make it look pretty, put enough hard work or money into it then it will be okay.
Verse 30 – Excuses the past
It wasn’t us, so it isn’t our fault
We weren’t there when the choice is made so it isn’t our fault.
Verse 31 – Pretends the past doesn’t impact us today
The decisions our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents made have an impact on us every day.
If your grandparents were alcoholics then you are impacted by it.
The choices you make will impact your future generations
Verse 32 – Accepts the past dictates the future
Jesus is telling the pharisees to do what their ancestors did. This is a prophecy to his own crucifixion.
Our own past will have a direct impact on the future
Verse 33 – Recognizes the past is inescapable
No matter how much you cover things up, hide it, move to a new town, your past will still come back to you.
Verse 34 – Prophecies the past will happen again
Jesus is sending the disciples
Tradition holds that every single disciple was killed for their faith except for John.
Peter was crucified upside down
James was thrown off the top of the temple
Mark was Hanged
Jude was dragged behind a horse through Alexandria Egypt
Verse 35 – Acknowledges that the past is cyclical
Abel is the first murder of the righteous in the OT
Zechariah is the last murder of the righteous in the OT
From beginning to end good people got killed for doing what was right instead of what was easy.
The past has profound implications on our current situation and our future
We want to say the past doesn’t matter, but it does.
If not for your past you would not be the person you are today.
Your past is vital to your existence today.
So the question becomes, what is your past?
Is it a past full of mistakes? Full of hurt and pain that you would prefer to ignore? Maybe it involves addiction, divorce, loss, abuse, crime, loneliness, doubt, or confusion, or maybe all of the above.
If that is your past then you have a couple options.
- Do what the pharisees did, cover it up, excuse it, and pretend it isn’t important.
- Do what Jesus did, accept it, recognize is, and deal with it.
We see people picking the pharisees way all the time. They do it when the president changes we say that the last guy was horrible until they left, then they are the greatest. We see it when students get a new teacher. We complain about them until they are gone, then we love them. We do it with pastors, we complain about them until they are gone but then they were the greatest pastor ever. We do it to our loved ones. We complain and gossip and argue, but then when they are gone it is as if we forget that stuff and we can’t say anything bad about the deceased.
What we need is more people who pick the way that leads to Jesus.
One way leads to Jesus’ last words to us being harsh words of Judgement, the other leads to hearing Jesus say “I am with you always”
I don’t know what your past is, I won’t pretend to explain why your past was what it was.
What I know, is that because of your past you are here today. That matters.
what I know is that because of your past you are who you are.
What I know is that because of your past, there can be a future if you want.
In following Jesus we find that our past is real, it hurt, and is made us who we are today.
We have the opportunity to make a new future. Starting today you can have a future that doesn’t live in our past and doesn’t repeat itself. We can break the cycle of our past and start something brand new.
Jesus’ work on the cross is so that we can have a better and brighter future.
Jesus’ resurrection only happened because he died but it ends the cycle of death for those who love Jesus.
Through the resurrection of Jesus we don’t have to exist in that cycle of history that continues to repeat itself generation after generation.
So then, you want a fresh start? You want to break that cycle of pain you have been in? Then it is here, at this table that you can do that. Jesus gives us a tangible way to experience the breaking of that cycle of our past.
Here at this table of communion we get to taste of Jesus’ death and find that we are free from our past. That it may have impacted us, but it no longer defines us.
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