Woe to you, blind guides. . . Matthew 23:16
Yesterday was about authority. Today, Tuesday, is about Perspective.
Jesus teaches from two places today. His subject in both is the Kingdom. His purpose is to get us to see things differently. That’s what perspective is all about. It’s about the lens you see through. How do you see God? How do you see the present times? How do you see the future?
First, the temple. Jesus is in charge now, and he is playing offense. His target is the Pharisees and the Scribes and basically everyone who claims an authority that is not rooted in love. With the subtlety of a sledgehammer, He calls them “blind guides” and “blind fools.” Why?
They don’t understand what the Kingdom is really about. “You may look good on the outside,” Jesus tells them, “but you’re rotten on the inside.” Check out Matthew 23 for the list of ways that they don’t see clearly. They don’t practice what they preach. They like being called teacher, but they don’t serve. They follow all the rituals and wear the right religious symbols, but they lead people astray. They obey the fine print of the law, but neglect the heart of the law, which over and over again Jesus tells us is love. They literally tithe to the penny, but they forget about justice, mercy, and faithfulness. On and on it goes.
This isn’t hard for us to understand. We swim in a sea of hypocrisy. So many prominent people, from TV dads to politicians and preachers of all stripes, have been exposed that it’s hard sometimes to believe that anyone is the real deal.
On his way out, though, Jesus, with sadness in his voice, also says this, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood, under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Jesus drops the mic and leaves the temple.
His disciples have a few questions as they leave and head to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus will continue to teach.
What are you talking about, Jesus? The temple is still here. Can’t you see it?
“Truly, I say to you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Jesus responds.
Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes for just a minute. Jesus has just poked the bear of the Jewish authorities. And here you are in the seat of power, in Jerusalem, at the temple. Has this man that you’ve been following gone crazy? What will happen to us?
What would you ask? How would you feel?
The disciples set their sights on the future, not just the tomorrow future but the eternal future—the Kingdom that is to come. Even though they struggle to put it all together, they are asking the right questions. When will these things come to pass? How will we know?
Jesus’ answer is the gospel, the simple good new that one day Jesus will be in charge. Trouble is coming. Death is coming. Persecution is coming. Don’t be afraid. Don’t give up. Even when it looks like we’re losing, I will bring about final victory. You can’t see it now, but one day you will. One day, Jesus says, “I will come into my Kingdom.”
Jesus invited them then and he invites us now to change the way we see, to change our perspective. It’s so easy to rip the rulers of Jesus’ day for their hypocrisy. And it’s still easy to do that today, especially when we have so many camera angles to see through.
As much as we like our rebels, we hate our hypocrites. But here’s the problem: we’re all hypocrites. The brighter the light, the more dirt you see.
What’s the answer?
Well, let’s start by looking at the lenses we look through. To see God. To see ourselves. To see others.
God has given us the Bible so that we can see Him clearly. That’s our starting point. Now, I’m not talking about a pick and choose, cherry-pick only the verses you like approach. If that’s what you’re about, then all you’re really doing is looking into the mirror. If you’re new to this, or you have trouble understanding the Bible, that’s ok. Stick with us on the journey. We can help!
When I begin to get a clearer picture of who God is, then I can also begin to understand what it looks like to follow Him and be changed by Him from the inside out. Then, with gratitude for the grace that God has shown me, I can begin to see how I might come along somebody else on their journey.
So, let’s take a look at your lens today.
How clear is your lens? Where do you need to adjust your focus? Where is your pride keeping you from seeing clearly?
Lord, be my vision. Be my best thought, by day or by night. May your presence be my light.
Read Matthew 21:23-25:46