Monday, April 28, 2008

Bible study: woe to the hypocrites

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. You blind Pharisees! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate that the outside may also be clean.
Matthew 23: 25-26

We had a lively discussion of Jesus' excoriations of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23 and Luke 11 at last night's Bible study. Jesus condemns them for being hypocrites with misplaced priorities. But underlying that is a sense that they really are unable to see beyond the physical world to the spiritual realm all around them. Thus they get caught up in trying to appear good and in demanding petty adherence to the rules, while missing the bigger picture of compassion and mercy to all people. And because they can't perceive the spiritual, they lack faith in it: thus they grab material goods and honors. Jesus condemns the way they mislead the people and misrepresent the kingdom of God. Nothing is worse to him than leading people astray about the loving heart of faith.

We talked about the bit of Pharisee in all of us and examples of Phariseeism in our culture. David mentioned that these passage reminded him of the Old Testament prophets and their excoriations of injustice. Ken "illuminated" us from a exegesis he'd brought along, and Jean, as always, kept us in tea and good conversation. Bill made sure we stayed on track while Johanna, as usual, was able to personalize the Bible passages.

Kathy came for the first time in a long time and looked quite well and cheerful. We were glad to have her back after her bout with cancer. There were seven of us around Jean's table, an indication of the continued robustness of the group. We missed Michelle, Lisa and Alan.


Bill Samuel said...

Actually, Diane, there were 8 of us around Jean's table.

In considering the 7 woes of Matthew 23 which are charges against the religious leaders, we noted how strong was Jesus' criticism. I thought, "and they say Jeremiah Wright was too strong!"

Diane said...

I must have miscounted! I think I put Roger and me in as one person. I'll change that. Yes strong criticism!!