Sunday, 26th September 6.00 pm Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.

Refrain:
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Saviour,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Saviour, wholly thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that thou art mine.
(Refrain)

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to thee,
Fill me with thy love and power,
Let thy blessing fall on me.
(Refrain)

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to his name!
(Refrain

PRAYER

READING Matthew 23

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees

13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. [14]

15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

SERMON Matthew 23 The 7 Woes

Jesus is known as the man of meekness – never a man more gentle – and so this chapter comes to us all the more surprisingly – this must be about the harshest and most searing words to come from the lips of our Saviour.

Jesus started His ministry, you may remember, with the Sermon on the Mount and the 8 Beatitudes. Having started with 8 blessings – Jesus now draws His public ministry to a close with 8 woes – or perhaps 7.

Now, that would accurately reflect why Jesus came into the world at all. His first reason for coming – we find it in that best known verse in the Bible – John 3:16 – God sent His son .. that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Now that is known, in theory, at least, by everyone here. However, what you may not have noticed what Jesus then goes on to say (vs. 18 ff) whoever does NOT believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s Son. Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

You see, Jesus did come to SAVE – but when people reject His way of salvation, then Jesus becomes their JUDGE – and the promise of the Bible is that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42).

And why is Jesus so angry as he draws to the close of His ministry? Jesus is fiercely angry about all pretending in religion.

Just as £20 notes are counterfeited, so there is counterfeit religion-hypocrisy.

Jesus is warning the disciples and the crowd about their religious leaders – their teaching was quite orthodox – but their lives were just riddled with corruption.

The big issue is CONSISTENCY. We must preach what we are – and we must be what we preach – if we fail in either of these, then we are hypocrites – actors of religion.

Sadly these religious leaders were the worst kind of hypocrites – we read of them in verse 5 : everything they do is done for men to see.

One of the troubles with the Pharisees was that they loved the praise of men – but Jesus says (vs. 12) whoever exalts himself: will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Jesus says of them : (Matthew 6:2) the hypocrites … have received their reward in full. The first woes speak of their wrong teaching and the last woes of their wicked lives.

Woe 1 In verse 13 we read that these men shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces – and they will be judged much more severely than other people. They are like drowning men – they are pulling others down into the foaming brine with them.

Woe 2 In verse 14, there may be another woe concerning the greed of the Pharisees – they are stealing the property of widows while they are at prayer.

Woe 3 The next woe in verse 15 continues the theme of verse 13 -these Pharisees would travel any distance to win a convert to their way of thinking – they would stop at nothing to get followers – and the worst of it was that these converts became even worse than their teachers! Jesus says they are twice as much sons of hell. Now these are very strong words – and I remind you that they are coming from Jesus – the Saviour of the world.

Woe 4 The fourth woe in verses 16-22 is all about oaths – what the Pharisees allowed people to swear by. But this just showed what verse 14 betrayed – namely that these men’s hearts were only after material things – the gold and the gifts were more important than the Temple of God and God Himself.

5th Woe The fifth woe show that these religious leaders had lost all sense of moral proportions – we are now leaving the bad teaching realm and entering the bad lives realm. In verses 23,24 – they didn’t care about the broad issues like justice and mercy and being faithful to God.

Woe 6 The next woe, in verses 25, 26 tells us that for these people – the OUTWARD show was EVERYTHING! – only concerned with cleaning the outside of their cups-we know it doesn’t make any sense-but they’re blind.

Woe 7 The next woe in verses 27,28 is similar and Jesus explains : on the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Is that YOU this morning? Only you can answer that question.

Woe 8 The last woe is because those leaders pretended to revere their ancestors – they spoke so highly of the great prophets of old – the great ministers of the past – but the plain fact was that they would have killed those same prophets if they had been living in their own day!

And Jesus says to them and to all those like them (vs.33): how will you escape being condemned to hell?

Conclusion And the chapter finishes with the most unexpected lament – a cry from the heart of Jesus for His people the Jews. How Jesus cares for these people – and now He weeps that they simply will not have Him! And Jesus weeps today – maybe for YOU. All these harsh words – coming from the heart of the man who is inwardly weeping for the sinners – Jesus still weeps over unrepentant sinners – He loves us deeply and longs for us to come to Him in repentance and in faith – will you do that and allow Him to flood your life with forgiveness – come let us return with contrite hearts.

PRAYER

Hymn Come, let us to the Lord our God

Come, let us to the Lord our God

with contrite hearts return;

our God is gracious, nor will leave

the desolate to mourn.

His voice commands the tempest forth

and stills the stormy wave;

and though his arm be strong to smite,

’tis also strong to save.

Long hath the night of sorrow reigned,

the dawn shall bring us light;

God shall appear, and we shall rise

with gladness in his sight.

Our hearts, if God we seek to know,

shall know him, and rejoice;

his coming like the morn shall be,

like morning songs his voice.

As dew upon the tender herb

diffusing fragrance round,

as showers that usher in the spring,

and cheer the thirsty ground.

So shall his presence bless our souls,

and shed a joyful light;

that hallowed morn shall chase away

the sorrows of the night.

Benediction

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