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Matthew 23 – They Remove the Gnats and Swallow the Camels

by Jill

In this podcast episode, I delve into the teachings of Matthew 23 and highlight the essence of Jesus’ teachings about vanity and hypocrisy. I draw attention to the attempts made by the Pharisees and Sadducees to trick Jesus and how Jesus responded by exposing their lack of understanding of God’s word. I discuss Jesus’ analogy of the Pharisees to a fig tree that does not produce figs, indicating that they were not living out their purpose. I reiterate that while they preached, they did not practice what they preached, burdened others with excessive rules, and were more concerned with their image than their deeds.

Moving on, I discuss how the Pharisees focused on external appearances, demonstrating their devotion through visible actions such as wearing phylacteries and fringes on their robes. However, these actions were not born out of genuine faith but were for impressing others. I contrast these actions with the true attributes of a follower of Christ, such as humility and servitude. I mention that the Pharisees’ obsession with titles and honors was not the issue; rather, the problem was the pride associated with them.

In the third part of the discussion, I reflect on the Pharisees’ blindness to the essential aspects of faith and their focus on minor issues. They were obsessed with tithing even the smallest spices but neglected the weightier matters of justice, mercy, and faith. Jesus indicated that the Pharisees were like blind guides who strained at gnats and swallowed camels, focusing on minor errors while ignoring major ones.

The discussion concludes with a reflection on Jesus’ lament for Jerusalem, the supposed city of God that had turned away from its purpose. Despite Jesus’ repeated attempts to gather his children, they were not willing. 

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