Matthew 23:1-39 – The heart of God

You might recall that straight after Isaiah’s song of lament about the bad fruit produced by the vineyard – i.e. the spiritual life of Judah – comes a list of six woes about the godless lifestyle of God’s people. This conduct, such as debauchery and injustice represent the bad fruit in question. In today’s passage Jesus pronounces seven woes against the religious leaders in Jerusalem and each can be said to constitute the bad fruit that they have produced. The gist of the catalogue of rebukes from Jesus is that the religious leaders have been preoccupied with their own prestige and power rather than the spiritual welfare of the people they have responsibility for.

Jesus’ heart of compassion for those who have been led astray by this self-serving religious elite is evident in the poignant words he speaks at the end of this passage. He expresses his desire to protect and nurture the misled in terms of a mother hen wanting to gather her chicks under her wings. What a contrast between the heart of God revealed through Jesus and the attitude of the religious leaders.

It is wonderfully encouraging to know that there are so many people in our church family who demonstrate the heart of God in the care they express for others. Let’s pray that the people of our town are drawn to Jesus as the one who wants them to know his gentle and loving care. Our faith isn’t about a religious system but a person. That person said, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find strength for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Prayer: Think upon those words of Jesus given above. Think of God’s kindness to you in all aspects of your life. Take a piece of paper and write a few words to express your thanks…be specific. To help you, try writing groups of two lines, the first answering ‘What has God done for me?’, the second ‘What difference does that make?’ Keep going, writing lines in pairs, and then you will have written a Psalm. Don’t forget to tell the Lord how brilliant He is!

Song: Good, good Father