The Gospels – The Gospel According to Matthew
The denunciation against conceit, hypocrisy and arrogance
Matthew 23:1-12 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
The scribes and Pharisees have usurped Moses’ seat and control the earthly religious power so the disciples are advised to avoid conflict with them. They are to do whatever is asked of them but are not to follow their examples because these leaders themselves do not practice what they preach. They institute laws that are meant to be followed by others. They are vain and all they do they do to earn the respect of the people. They love to appear important and want to be served instead of serving. The examples set by the scribes and Pharisees is that of vain self-glorification, conceit, the craving for importance and spiritual arrogance. This example and this precedent, Jesus warned against. His disciples are not to be like these people. His disciples are to serve rather than be served. His disciples are to be humble and not set themselves apart from the generality of the people.
The example of the Pharisees and the scribes are the excrescences of the over-development of the intellect. It is only the intellect that craves for importance and honour. It is the intellect that clings to external values and appearance and wanting to set itself above others. Jesus’ disciples are not to become slaves of the intellect. They are to use the spirit instead with its quality of humility and love and mercy. In using their spirits in the fulfillment of the duty that Jesus bids them, they are not to confront the religious authorities. They are to work among the common people. They are not to destroy but build up. They are not to waste energy in confrontations but in useful activity among the populace.
If attacked they are to bear everything calmly and turn their gazes only to the Lord. He has sent them among the people and it is among these that they are to accomplish their tasks. If they work truly among the people, then the Teaching of Jesus will take hold among the grassroots and work its way up. These leaders write laws that are very difficult indeed to adhere to and these are the heavy burdens that Jesus refers to. These are nothing but masses of external laws which as mentioned before have nothing to do with real ascent.
Furthermore, for a mobile human spirit, they constitute a burden, a hindrance to free unfolding. These laws are rigid, but the mobile spirit will find it difficult to adjust itself to them hence the conflict within. For those who are totally spiritually dead and have nothing more in them but the intellect, then it would be easy for these to adjust since these laws are written by and ultimately for the intellect. Those, however, who still have some degree of spiritual mobility will never be able to adjust to rigid laws of do’s and don’ts.
He also warned His disciples against intentionally exalting themselves, as this is often followed by a downfall. The reason for this is that those who do this deny the gift given to them by God. In becoming arrogant they make themselves and others believe that their abilities and talents and the works that they accomplish are the results of their own cleverness and greatness. Nothing is further from the truth.
He has been able to achieve these works because of the connection that he had to the Source of all Knowledge. By so doing He denies His God. No human being can accomplish anything without the Power of the Almighty. To state otherwise is to delude oneself. The justified result of such arrogance is that the individual loses his connection with the Light and is therefore not able anymore to accomplish such great deeds as before. This is the downfall that Jesus warned against. To compound his problems because he is no longer able to receive, he will have to render account for the loss of the blessings that his deeds would have brought to humanity. He would have to account for the non use of his talents.
The consequences therefore are grave and such a one may run the risk of spiritual perdition because he may not have enough time to redeem his guilt before the closing of the cycle. On the other hand he who humbles himself will continue to be connected to the Light and will grow stronger and stronger in his recognitions and will even achieve greater works than before. As a result he will rise higher and higher in the spiritual sense.
Matthew 23:13-15 Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in….”
The teachings of these teachers of the law as has been mentioned before are nothing but intellectual ordinances that people are meant to adhere to. These ordinances have nothing to do with real spirituality. The sole practice of these ordinances on their own without due regard to the real spiritual Laws will not guarantee an entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Through the institution of these practices and the demand that the people do just this and nothing more or the teaching that this is all that they had to do is tantamount to shutting the door of the Kingdom of Heaven against the people. Through these they have thrust their teachings and indeed themselves between the people and the Kingdom of God. By not giving the people what they really needed for the Kingdom of Heaven and by indeed preventing them from listening to the Teachings of Jesus, they have effectively barred the peoples’ way thereto. No other way leads into the Kingdom of God but the one that Jesus pointed out in the exercise of the volition of the spirit and the obeying of God’s Will. In preventing the people from listening to Jesus and in the non presentation of a teaching which demands the obedience to the real Will of God, they have denied the people their inheritance and indeed their rights through the nature of their spiritual origin to return back to Paradise their home.
It is the same today. In instituting ordinances and teachings which have never been sanctioned and which are even contrary to what Jesus wanted, we, like the scribes and Pharisees have thrust ourselves between the people and God and His Kingdom. In failing to explain the true Will of God and in failing to demand that the true way to God was the proper understanding of Jesus’ Words in the adherence to the Will of God, we have proven ourselves to be doing just that which Jesus two thousands years ago spoke against and censured.
There is absolutely no difference today in the development of religions from what the scribes and Pharisees built up at that time and the way in which they acted against the Will of God. The Church or organized religion, has through instituting practices which have been shown to be contrary to God’s Will and in its failure to show people what they really must do if they really wanted to enter Heaven, have shut the Kingdom of Heaven from the people.
They failed to tell the people that it is the obedience to God’s Will through the exercise of their volition to do good that matters and not the saying of prayers by the hundred. We have shown that the religious authorities have gone contrary to every single Word of Jesus. They did not even understand Him and instead of openly admitting to this, they used force and replaced His misunderstood Words and Teachings with explanations and practices which will never open the way to the Kingdom of God. History has repeated itself.
Every single Word of Jesus puts a hole in this hollow structure and if only people would examine these Words themselves they would be amazed that they had for centuries been led by the nose by people who had not the faintest idea of what Jesus was saying. But we are too busy dancing around the golden calf of materialism. It was never the intention of most of these people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven even though ironically they are meant to be priests and custodians of that very Word meant to show us the way. The aim has always been for the majority earthly influence, wealth and fame just like Jesus pointed out in the penchant and love to be addressed as Rabbi on the streets. In the same way today the religious authorities enjoy the prominence that their position affords them. So they occupy this position and fail to use it for the purpose for which it was created but for exactly the opposite. They bar the way. They would not go in themselves but through their teachings they never allow others to do so.
Matthew 23:16-22 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If any one swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ (17) You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?…..”
No clearer words could be stated of the difference between what man has introduced with his brain and the true Wisdom of God. The far-seeing and comprehensive view which is characteristic of everything spiritual is revealed here. The narrow minded outlook of intellectuals is also demonstrated for all to see.
The intellect can only see things in a one sided rigid manner. Its characteristics make it imperative that it sees only one aspect of a subject at a time. It lacks a free survey because being a product itself it cannot do otherwise. But it is this very product which mankind now depends on for clarification on matters which obviously goes beyond its origin and ambit. Is it then surprising that it falls short?
It is the fault of mankind. We place demands on a tool that obviously lacks the ability to resolve or handle the demands. Is it surprising that finding itself confounded it will be forced to express itself using obscure terms and expressions. It is bound to come up with ridiculous conclusions such as the verses quoted above. It is bound to press everything into obscure limits and narrow down to its level what are meant to be great things that go beyond it. It is all in its attempt to offer an explanation that it does this.
No one can blame the intellect. It only offers explanations according to its nature. It is those human beings who ask the intellect for enlightenment on matters that obviously go beyond it that are to blame. If we are misled then it is our own fault and we must bear the full consequences for their decisions. If we are misled in such a way that we are condemned to perdition, then we have only ourselves to blame for this. After all we also have within us the tool that was to bring us enlightenment. The tool which was made for this purpose. But we choose to ignore this tool.
We cannot blame God for this because God did not create this distortion in the human brain. If we have distorted our bodies in such a way that we fail to hear the Voice of God, is the Latter then to blame for this? If I pluck out my own eyes or deliberately destroy my hearing then is it the fault of others that I cannot hear or see them?
Matthew 23:23-24 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (24) You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
The human aspects of religion. Love for our neighbours, forgiveness, tolerance, mercy and justice for our neighbours have been neglected and attention placed solely on externals that do not take anyone anywhere. The weightier matters of the law are these human aspects.
Matthew 23:25-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. (26) You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean…..”
The teachers of the law ask the people to uphold external practices but do not teach them to improve themselves as human beings. They do not show them how to think, speak and act in ways which are pleasing to God which alone guarantees that their spiritual garments are bright and clean which corresponds to the inside. They would rather teach the people of Israel to wash their hands before meals and bathe their physical bodies several times a day than tell them that bathing the spiritual body is of more importance through thinking good thoughts. They did not know this hence are blind guides. They could know however but this they elected to ignore and they would oppose Him Who was meant to bring enlightenment.
Of what use is it to bathe the physical body a thousand times a day or wash one’s hands hundreds of times if one is evil within. This evil soils the spirit which is the inside of the bowl that Jesus mentions. It is the condition of this inside that is relevant to how we are judged and not the temporary physical body. Even the most materialistic person understands this. One can put on the cleanest of clothes but this has nothing to do with the nature of the individual. This is what Jesus was trying to point out here.
Matthew 23:29-39 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, (30) saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ (31) Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. (32) Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers……”
This is one of the reasons why it would be difficult to justify the teachings of a propitiatory sacrifice as an explanation for the death of Jesus. He has made His Will clear here that it is wrong. The history of mankind is replete with this tragedy and this clearly shows that Jesus was not in favour of the persecutions which have been the fates of all those sent by God for the enlightenment of the peoples.
The question as to why this is always the case is not so far-fetched. Why is it that prophets and those who are sent by God to bring enlightenment are always without exception persecuted? It is not as if it is written in the stars that they indeed must always go through this. The generality of mankind is to blame for this.
The decision of mankind always to follow the darkness creates a condition whereby it would be difficult for those who have decided for the Light to unfold. The vast majority of the people and those in authority through the dominion of the intellect have turned their backs on God. They serve the darkness and it is as such not surprising that these can easily be used by Lucifer to oppose those who strive for the Light. They would use whatever is in their power, even murder to ensure that the status quo is maintained, that the spiritual never have any foothold on this earth. In so doing they do not know that they are simply following a larger plan by Lucifer to ensure the continuation of his reign and the prevention of the establishment of the Will of God on earth.
Mankind therefore is to blame for this ugly situation because we let ourselves be used as pawns of Lucifer in his violent struggle against the Will of God. He wants to avoid destruction and as such must fight with all his might to ensure that his principles reign on earth. The time would be up for him if mankind would chose to align their wills with that of God’s. He would then be brought to justice for the confusion that he has been able to sow among mankind. He is, however, trying to avoid this justice by ensuring that there are still people who still revere him and his principles.
His fight therefore against the Will of God and also for his own self preservation are therefore the reasons for this ugly recurrence of martyrdom amongst the prophets and followers of God. If mankind changes and decide for the Light then this ugly happening will change and prophets will no longer be persecuted but welcomed by the majority of the people.
We can see here that Jesus did not lament or grieve but He threw out the gauntlet to these people. ‘Fill up the measures of your fathers’. He summed up the terrible fate that is to befall this people who have always acted in this Light-opposing way. There is to be no mercy or forgiveness for them. They will drink the cup of retribution and no help shall be extended to them in their sufferings. Is this the weak and yielding Jesus that is portrayed on all sides?
Matthew 24:1-2 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. (2) But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.”
Jesus here predicted the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem that was to occur about 150 years later.