Welcome to the May edition of Good News, the monthly newsletter of the Fairview Park church of Christ! We hope that you find the articles below helpful, edifying, and true to the Bible. If you find the articles helpful in your Bible study, please forward this e-mail to a friend. May God bless you as you study his word!
The Gnat and the Camel
by Jacob Hudgins
“You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”(Matt 23:24).
The image is preposterous. Concerned about defiling himself, the Pharisee works hard to strain a gnat out of his drink. While expending all this effort, he inadvertently swallows a camel—the largest unclean animal!
When dishes get dirty, they have to be dealt with. If we don’t deal with dirty dishes, then the grime on them tends to stick, and it becomes harder to deal with. However, dirty dishes are always cleanable—even it takes some elbow grease. But how do we deal with our spiritual dirty dishes that Jesus talks about in Matthew 23.25-26? The passage reads:
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves”(Matt 23:15).
In this chapter of woes to the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus is sharply critical of their evangelistic efforts. It is not their zeal that is the problem—they are willing to “travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte”—but their approach. As disciples of Jesus, we learn here how evangelism goes wrong and where our efforts must improve.
“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”(Matt 23:30).
As Jesus rails against the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, he brings up the monuments they build to commemorate past prophets. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 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’”(Matt 23:29-30). They acknowledge—and even celebrate—their history without taking appropriate lessons from it. The essential lessons are directly in front of them, yet they are unable to learn and change. The Pharisees show us our deep need to critique our history.