Mathews 23:16-33 The Blind Pharisees

The Pharisees were blinded to the truth by their self-righteousness, their traditions and their misunderstanding of the law.  They failed to see that the man preaching to them was their Messiah.  They failed to perceive their hypocrisy.  They thought they were so pure and yet they were bloody killers.  Yet, they were blind pharisees.

You can tell when someone is blind.  You’ll know by the walking stick or the Seeing Eye dog.  The person will be reading Braille, holding onto someone else, bumping into things, etc.  Well, it was obvious that the Pharisees were blind.  They exhibited their blindness in their:

Oaths vs. 16-22

When men make oaths, they swear to perform them by something that is higher than themselves (Heb 6:16).  Men used to swear on the Bible that they would tell the truth in court and once they had sworn they were under oath.  The president takes an oath to uphold the constitution of the U.S.  When an oath was given in the Old Testament, it was to be performed (Num 30:2).  God gave the first oath to Abraham (Ex 6:8) and the Lord had to swear by himself since there was none higher than him (Heb 6:13).  Abraham made his servant swear by the Lord (Gen 24:3).  It became law in Israel that when men gave oaths, they were to swear by the Lord (Deut 6:13).

The Pharisees only swore by the gold and the gifts upon the altar.  They couldn’t see that the temple, the altar, heaven and God were greater than the gold and the gifts.  They were blinded by their lust for money.  They trusted money instead of trusting the Lord (1 Tim 6:17).  Thus, they lost sight of God.

Observance of the Law vs. 23-24

The Pharisees only kept parts of the law, satisfying themselves that they were doing all they needed to do.  They were blind to the fact that they needed to keep the weightier matters of the law.

They tithed in accordance with Lev 27:30-32.  This was good.  Yet, they perverted judgment because they judged on appearance and not according to the truth (Jn 7:24).  God gave them their basis for judgment (the breastplate, Ex 28:29-30, and righteous judgment, which was according to the law Lev 19:15, 35).

They rejected mercy, which was their only hope of salvation (God is merciful, Ex 20:6; he spoke to them from the mercy seat, Ex 25:16; and men need mercy to purge iniquity Prov 16:6, Lk 18:13).

They failed to live by faith, which was required (Hab 2:4).  Their faith was obscured by their idolatrous covetousness (Deut 32:17-20; Col 3:5).

Straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel illustrates the Pharisees’ obsession with keeping insignificant matters of the law while grossly neglecting the most important.

Righteous appearance vs. 25-28

The Pharisees were so constantly concerned with outwardly appearing righteous that they were blind to their inward iniquity.  Commonly, people condemn others for faults that they cannot see in themselves (Lk 18:10-14).

Their observance of the traditions concerning cleanliness (Mk 7:4) was similar to cleaning the outside of dishes to make them look clean while leaving the inside filthy.  A pretty dish with food stuck to the inside of it is a dirty dish that needs cleaning.  To use the dish again, it must be cleaned on the inside, as well.

The trouble with the Pharisees was inward.  They had trouble with extortion (taking money by force [Lk 3:12-14]), excess (immoderation [Phil 4:5 like Tit 3:2]), uncleanness [Mk 7:21-23], hypocrisy (pretending to be something they were not), and iniquity (unrighteousness, wickedness [Matt 21:41, Acts 2:23]).
Virtuous profession vs. 29-32

They believed their own pious statements and were blind to their murderous intentions against their Messiah (Jn 7:19-20).  They were going to do the same thing to Jesus that their forefathers had done to the prophets before them (Acts 7:51-52).

Faulty judgment v. 33

They thought as the sons of Abraham, they were set to inherit the kingdom promised to him (Jn 7:39-40).  They were blind to the fact that they were actually serpents (like their father, Jn 8:44) on their way to hell (their father’s home, Matt 25:41).