For each passage we'll note who Jesus encountered, whether he initiated the contact, what type of interaction he had with them, whether He took direct action to meet human needs (see Matthew 25:35-36 for examples), whether His "do-ing" was miraculous, and any commands He gave.
|Matthew 23 Audio
Mark 12:38-40, Luke 20:45-47
|Crowds and disciples||Y||Teaching||N||N||Matthew 23:3,8,9,10|
|Scribes and Pharisees||Y||Rebuke||N||N||none|
Luke 13:34-35, Psalm 118:26, Luke 19:36-40
What relationship should Christ's followers have with the scribes and Pharisees?  Is it possible for you to control what others call you? [8-10] What relationship should Christ's followers have with each other? [2-12] In what way were the Pharisees "locking people out of the kingdom of heaven"? [13, see also 4]
What point is Jesus making with all the "swearing" in verses 16-22? What's really important when observing the law? [23-24] Verses 25-33 are an expansion of what Jesus said in verse 5 — what point is He making? Jesus' language is very strong throughout the "woes" section, but seems to reach a fever pitch in 34-36; is He really judging the (then) current generation of Pharisees for the shed blood of all the murdered prophets since Cain killed Abel?
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" – having worked himself into an emotional frenzy over the errors of the Jewish leaders and how they've led the people astray Jesus now collapses into a moment of tenderness, and yet it is sorrowful lament that the people whose leadership failed them still prefer to follow them into destruction. Why does "the one who comes in the name of the Lord" sound familiar?
Now for the hard questions: (1) Keeping in mind that Jesus, here, is definitely talking about the scribes and Pharisees but is not apparently talking directly to them, has Jesus written them off as being irredeemable? or is He using provocative language to shock them into changing their ways? Is He pronouncing judment, or is He calling to repentance? (2) How extensive is His instruction to maintain equality: is He concerned only about our personal attitudes toward and relationships with others (on an individual level)? or is He also promoting social equality, demanding justice and equity in societal structures? How equal is equal enough?
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