Matt 23:13 (NIV)
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."
Jesus gets pretty harsh here with the Pharisees. This is only 1 of 7 "woe to you" points as Jesus goes on a little rant towards the religious leaders of His day. Read Matt 23 for the full rant.
As I am looking at passages related to the kingdom, I wonder how the Pharisees shut the door on the kingdom of heaven.
Was it that they held the keys to getting right with God in their society. That many people followed these religious leaders because they claimed they knew the way to being at peace with God. There is no doubt religious leaders can hold quite a bit of power over others.
Jesus and His disciples came on the scene with the invitation to enter the kingdom of God. The Pharisees don't buy in for whatever reason. So instead of joining Jesus and proclaim God's reign and rule, they find themselves in opposition to Jesus. Since the masses blindly follow the religious leaders, their rejection of Jesus also keeps others from accepting Jesus and His message.
Does any of this sound familiar today?
One thing that bothers me is this. I have sat through about 40 years of sermons. I only recall two sermons teaching about the kingdom of God. One was done by a guest speaker somewhere who acknowledge his message would likely upset some people. The other by a woman in Mexico. However, I do think most Christians believe Jesus is Lord and King. I just don't see the message of the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed getting much airtime. I'm not sure why.
Or maybe it's that my memory is bad. Just because I've sat through thousands of sermons doesn't mean I remember much more than two. :)
And it's not just about proclaiming the kingdom of God. It's also about living it the way Jesus and His followers did.
Are many religious leaders of today resisting the message of the kingdom that Jesus taught?
I hope not. If so, does this woe still apply?
Are there other ways people can shut the door on the kingdom for others?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
- Secrets of the Kingdom Summary
- Gospel in the Gospels - Summary - 6 part series
- Kingdom of God
- End Of Religion