Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Messiah’s Hypocrites

Monday, March 26, 2018

Messiah’s Hypocrites

Messiah’s Hypocrites
  The birth of the Messiah was about four-hundred years after the Malachi’s prophecies in B.C. 397.  Zechariah prophesied from B.C. 520 through B.C. 487 to the remnant that had returned to Jerusalem.  Haggai was also a prophet to the returned remnant in B.C. 520. 

Why are these facts important?  These three prophecies were the last times God spoke to the children of Israel until the coming of John the Baptist and the birth of the Messiah.  The substance of these last three messages from God to the faithful remnant of Israel would have been given great consideration.  The faithful remnant would have been very familiar with the substance of these prophesies. 

          Professing believers tend to generate and image of God, or an understanding of what He is going to do, from an inaccurate understanding of Scripture.  The most significant contributors to these misunderstandings are often false teachers.  The second most significant contributor to misunderstanding prophetic events is to misunderstand the chronology of those events.

This was certainly true of the first advent of Jesus.  The Jews almost completely ignored those prophesies that spoke of the “stone the builders rejected” (Psalm 118:22).  This is the text Jesus quoted to “the chief priests and Pharisees” in Matthew 21:42-46.  The statement of Jesus to “the chief priests and Pharisees” is the final straw in their decision to have Jesus killed.  Jesus threaten that the authority of the Kingdom rule would be taken from “the chief priests and Pharisees” and given “to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). 

This “nation” would be the new priesthood of all believers from the Church Age BUILT UPON THE FOUNDATION OF THE FAITH WAY IN KING JESUS as the DOOR INTO THE KINGDOM AGE. 

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you {the ‘chief priests and Pharisees,’ vs 45}, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they {the multitude} took him for a prophet {not the Messiah}” (Matthew 21:42-46). 

          It is important to read this portion of Matthew chapter twenty-one because it gives us the immediate context of what happened immediately after Jesus rode into Jerusalem claiming to be the Prophet/Priest/King/Messiah of Israel.  Every Jew would have understood what Jesus was doing as He came riding into Jerusalem on “a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:5). 

Matthew chapter twenty-one is a very informative and important chapter in understanding the chain of events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus by the priesthood of Israel with a large portion of the Jews consenting because they were deceived by the corrupt priesthood corrupted with a lust for power and prestige.  This is the substance of the chapter. 

          A main emphasis of the prophesies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi is the failure and pending removal of the Levitical priesthood of Israel from the leadership over Israel.  The chief priests and Pharisees to which Jesus spoke in Matthew 21:42-46 would certainly have been familiar with messages from God that these prophets had given about their pending removal from power of their priesthood. 

The chief priests’ and Pharisees’ great failure in understanding the prophesies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi was the failure to see themselves as a part of the fulfillment of that prophecy.  Their self-righteousness blinded them from seeing themselves as the problem and enemies of God’s promised redemption offered by grace and received through faith in the Messiah’s death, burial, and resurrection.  They had become so preoccupied with ensuring that the remnant of Israel keep the Law to ensure no future captivity, they could not see themselves still under the Roman captivity prophesied by Daniel 2:31-45.
Jesus entered into this deadly nest of hypocritical vipers as recorded in Matthew 21:1-11 knowing full well what they were going to do to Him.  This event is often foolishly called the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem.  The ignorance of God’s people to what was happening made a debacle and farce out of Jesus’ coming to His Temple to be given authority to rule over His chosen people (John 1:11-12).  With their mouths they cried “Hosanna {save now} to the Son of David.”  In their hypocritical ignorance, they were crying out for Jesus to establish the Kingdom and for deliverance from Roman bondage while knowing nothing of their great need for their deliverance from their bondage to sin, death, and condemnation.  Self-righteous people know nothing of their wretchedness in the eyes of God and their offense against His holiness!  How quickly we are willing to create God in our image. 

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives {Zechariah 14:4}, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass {Zechariah 9:9}. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:1-11).

          Ignorance often keeps people from seeing and perceiving the obvious.  The “multitude” could believe in Jesus as “the prophet.”  They cried out to Him “Hosanna to the Son of David.”  Therefore, they were knowledgeable of these two aspects of the coming of Messiah. 

Where then were they ignorant?  They were ignorant of the suffering Saviour of Psalm twenty-two and Isaiah fifty-three.  They were ignorant of the fact that Jesus had to become their Saviour before He would ever become their King delivering them into the Kingdom.  This reality is greatly different than delivering the Kingdom to themThe Kingdom is ONLY for the Redeemed.  No one can have the Kingdom until he becomes one of the Redeemed “by grace through faith.”  To be part of Christ’s Kingdom, a person must be “born again” by receiving Jesus as Saviour and Lord before there is any significance to believing Him to be “the prophet” and the heir to David’s throne.  

          The Levites of Israel served God because that was their duty.  They had positions of power and prestige before the children of Israel.  These positions demanded certain practices and ways of life from them.  In most cases, these men served God because it was the only way to guarantee the continuance of their positions of prestige and power over the children of Israel. 

Herein is uncovered the fountain of hypocrisy –serving God to get the personal benefits of that service.  The truth is that a true believer will worship God and serve Him even if he was still going to Hell.  He would worship and serve God because he believes God deserves his worship and service because of Who God is and because he believes he really DESERVES HELL. 

Most people are quick to acknowledge they deserve nothing from God.  It is true that none deserve any grace from God for if we deserve grace, it is no longer grace.  However, few will worship God out of gratitude for grace in not receiving from Him what we all deserve.  We deserve the eternal fires and torments of Hell prepared for Satan and rebellious angels.  

Worship birthed from anything less is ignorant hypocrisy!  We do not want to talk about this because we want to feel good about ourselves.  We want to think we are pretty good people.  The fact is, apart from God’s marvelous grace, we are ALL hateful, wicked, deceitful monsters.  If we try to live one moment apart from God’s supernatural enabling grace, we will find ourselves oozing back into the slime pits of corruption out of which the grace of God dragged us.  Admit it!  Then, and only then, might genuine worship burst forth from your life. 

The Jews of Matthew 21:1-11 should have known from Zechariah 9:9 that the one upon which they looked was King Jesus the Saviour, not just another “prophet.”  The true spirit of loving forgiveness is the desire to deliver a person from your own anger and wrath.  It has been said, “God loves the sinner, but hates his sin.”  What foolish nonsense.  God hates the sinner and his sin and extends to that sinner the most extreme wrath imaginable -the torment of eternal Hell.  Yet, “God is love” (I John 4:8). 

God’s love extends God’s unsearchable grace to the sinner that God hates.  God’s love does not accept sinners as sinners.  God does not say, “I understand.  You are a sinner and you cannot help that you sin, so I forgive you.”  Redemption is God doing what He commands believers to do; “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:27b-28).  Jesus Christ’s death burial, and resurrection mediates the wrath of an angry God and offers the only reconciling solution – the gift of God-kind righteousness imparted to the believer “through faith.”  That is love!

What did Jesus do immediately after the Jews hypocritically proclaim Him to be their prophet and restorer of the throne of David?  He went to claim the Temple they had built for His coming.  The Jews allowed Him to do what is recorded in Matthew 21:12-14 because the multitudes saw Jesus as having the authority of a prophet.  That means, they saw Jesus as having more authority than the “the chief priests and Pharisees.”  However, it is clear from Matthew 21:15-16 that the “the chief priests and Pharisees” did not believe Jesus to be their Messiah. 

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. 15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? 17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there” (Matthew 21:12-17).

After Jesus purged the Temple of the money changers, Matthew 21:17 tells us He left Jerusalem and traveled about two miles to “Bethany.” He probably went to stay in the house of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha who lived in Bethany.  Jesus “lodge there” often.  The next morning Jesus and His disciples returned to Jerusalem to go back to the Temple and teach there.  Before the event of Jesus’ next confrontation of “the chief priests and Pharisees” with Who He is, a short lesson through an exhibition was necessary for the disciples.  The disciples needed to learn a lesson about faith and faithfulness.  Before you face the hypocrisy of the hypocrite, remember to confirm your faith in the faithful One!

18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever {Jesus cursed the unproductive fig tree}. And presently {instantly or right away} the fig tree withered away {shriveled or dry up; it died}. 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled {why did they marvel?}, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done {this miracle was nothing compared to the impact these men were going to have on the world ‘by grace through faith’}. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:18-22).

We really cannot understand what is going on in the events of Matthew chapter twenty-one if we do not review the summary statement regarding it all in John 1:11-13. 

Jesus knew what was going on.  We can be quite sure that His disciples did not have a clue.  Jesus was presenting Himself as the Messiah/King/LORD of Israel.  THAT IS WHO HE IS!  The point of His presentation is His RECEPTION as MESSIAH LORD by the nation of Israel, including “the chief priests.”  We have already seen on two occasions in Matthew 21:11 and 46 that the “multitude” (majority) of the Jews believed Jesus was a prophet.  They did not believe Jesus was Messiah/King/LORD, and these three nomenclatures are synonymous.  If Jesus is going to be received as your Saviour, He must also be received as your LORD.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).

The four Gospels present Jesus as the King of the Jews (Matthew), Servant or Prophet (Mark), Man or Priest (Luke), and God or Jehovah incarnate (John).  It is not that each Gospel does not support what the other Gospels teach about Who Jesus is.  It is just that each Gospel writer has his own emphasis.  To deny any one of these four aspects of the character and nature of Jesus is to deny Jesus. 

To believe in Jesus as Messiah is to accept and believe in each of these four aspects of His character and nature with EQUAL VERACITY!

This is the point of Matthew 21:18-21.  Jesus interjects this miracle of the immediate withering of the fig tree upon His cursing it to present Himself as the Sovereign Creator with absolute authority over His creation.  What we do not have in Matthew chapter twenty-one is what John recorded that Matthew does not.  Therefore, reading all the Gospels together is critical to our getting the whole picture. 

13 And whatsoever ye shall ask {the Father} in my name, that will I do {Jesus answers prayers in that He is the executor of God’s will or plan}, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

The Name of Jesus is more than a means to get His attention.  To ask in the Name of Jesus is to ask believing in all to which His Name connects.  If Jesus is the Messiah, He is Jehovah, the incarnate Word/Will of God in a human body.  If Jesus is Jehovah, He is the Creator of Heaven, Earth, and all that is therein.  If Jesus is the Creator, He has Sovereign authority (the power of life, death, blessing, and curse) over all that He has created. 

When professing faith in Jesus, understanding of all these connecting links are presumed.  Faith in Jesus is all of this or nothing.  To profess faith in Jesus is to proclaim to believe a cacophony of all that the Bible teaches about Who He is.  In other words, a person cannot just believe in one aspect of Jesus while rejecting ANY other.  To believe in Jesus is to believe in ALL that He is and ALL to which His Name connects Him.

Unbelief is often merely another word for ignorance.  To profess faith in Jesus without understanding to all that the Name Jesus connects is really an empty testimony and empty faith.  Therefore, it is important to understand that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  The more you understand of the Word of God’s teaching about Who Jesus is, the more your faith is increased. 

God created a perfect Adam, who was corrupted by Satan’s deception.  Adam became the progenitor of monsters of sin and all-consuming pride and selfishness.  Cain was the first that manifested the monstrous wickedness of which humanity is capable, but not the last.  However, we fail to see that Abel would have been a progenitor of monsters too, just like his daddy.  So are you and so am I!
Underneath the sanctifying grace of God in each of our lives, there is a wicked, sinful monster.  That monster is the real boogeyman under our beds and demon hiding in our closet.  That monster we simply call a sin nature is the real threat posed to our children and the influence we have upon the next generation of humanity.  Until we understand this reality, we will live under the deception of our own hypocrisy.  Unless we are willing to give Christ full surrender of our hearts, we WILL procreate spiritual monsters that will be just like we are underneath God’s enabling grace. 

23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? 24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves {instead of just saying the truth, they start playing politics}, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. 27 And they answered Jesus, and said {they give a politically correct answer, which is another phrase for side stepping the truth}, We cannot tell {simple translation of what they said: unbelief}. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things” (Matthew 21:23-27).

      Many, like “the chief priests and Pharisees,” fail to see what the Law of God really says in its summary of the Decalogue that we know as the Ten Commandments.  The message of the Law is simple.  All are sinners (Romans 3:23).  The Law says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).  The Law says, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). 

28 But what think ye {Jesus is speaking specifically to the chief priests and Pharisees}? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not {they would not repent of their works way}. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness {the faith way, not the works way}, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him {the faith way}: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him {referring to John the Baptist pointing Jews to the faith way in Jesus Christ ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,’ John 1:29}” (Matthew 21:28-32).

The “chief priests and the Pharisees” were looking for entrance into the Kingdom through the “works of the Law.”  They could see no other way because they had blinded themselves to the way of faith

They had completely and totally rejected the way of faith.  They believed God had removed the way of faith in the Abrahamic Covenant and replaced it with the way of works in the Mosaic Covenant.  Paul explains this all in great detail in Galatians chapter three.  Those of the works way hated John the Baptist and all the other Baptists who believed in the faith way into the Kingdom.  Those of the works way have always hated and persecuted those of the faith way

17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Galatians 3:17-18).

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Messiah.  He was a prophet, but not thee Prophet spoken of by Moses.  As a prophet of God, John the Baptist spoke with the authority of a prophet when he called the scribes and Pharisees coming to his baptisms “a generation of vipers” (Matthew 3:7).  Jesus exposed them as a “generation of vipers” in Matthew 12:24 and again in Matthew 23:33 adding on numerous occasions in addressing them with the label of “hypocrites.”  A viper has the sting of death in his mouth/bite.  Their propagation of the works way in their false teaching was what made them vipers.  The works way is Satan’s invention and his deception.  However, its way is the way of death.  “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).  The works way seems like it should be the right way, but it can never get a person to the destiny it promises!

33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard {the Kingdom of Israel promised to Abraham and delivered to the faithful of Israel under Joshua’s leadership}, and hedged it round about {God’s protection}, and digged a winepress in it {God’s provision for blessing}, and built a tower {for God’s stewards to watch over His vineyard}, and let it out to husbandmen {the priesthood of Israel}, and went into a far country {waiting for the harvest}: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it {not the fruits which was the righteousness of the Law, but the heart fruits of genuine faith and the righteousness birthed through the New Birth; II Corinthians 5:21}. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants {referring to the prophets that called the priests to repent of their works way}, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son {Jesus the Messiah}, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen {those propagating the works way} saw the son {all they saw in the ‘Son’ was opposition to their false works way}, they {plotted His murder to kill the faith way once and for all} said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance {the Kingdom and its subjects of the faith way}. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They {the chief priests and Pharisees} say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you {the chief priests and Pharisees}, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone {see the fallacy of the works way} shall be broken {and through repentance of the works way come to faith in the faith way in Christ Jesus}: but on whomsoever it shall fall {because they refuse to repent of the works way believe in the faith way}, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them {they understood but refused to believe thereby sealing their destiny of eternal damnation}. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet” (Matthew 21:33-46).

What most people often fail to see in Matthew chapter twenty-one is that because the priesthood of Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah/King/LORD, the Kingdom Age was postponed.  Jesus said; “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).  The Kingdom was within the reach of the Jews if they would simply repent of their works way into the Kingdom and trust in the faith way into Kingdom through faith in Christ’s gift of God-kind righteousness. 

Of what did these Jews need to repent?  They certainly were not the Jews that were immersed in the paganism of old Israel.  These were the Jews that were the descendants of the faithful remnant that had returned to rebuild the Temple and Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah four hundred years earlier.  However, in overemphasizing the works of Law to ensure that Israel not go back into captivity, they made the way into the Kingdom the works way

Secondly, they failed to see, or refused to see, the continuum of captivity in the succeeding earthly empires revealed in Daniel 2:31-45.  Repentance of the works way by the nation of Israel was necessary before Jesus would usher in His Superior Kingdom through the faith way.  Therefore, Jesus calls Israel to “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).  There is no room or allowance in the “Kingdom of heaven” for people refusing to repent of the works way

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone {faith in Jesus}; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 9:30-33).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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