In Matthew 23, Jesus is face-to-face with the Pharisees again and I want to focus on how he challenges them in this passage:
16 “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ 17 Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. 19 How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
A fundamental mistake that the Pharisees made, and that we make is viewing the gift, or the precious metal, as paramount instead of the relationship that gives it substance. The Pharisees had turned their relationship with God into a system to be controlled, and in so doing they had placed value on gold, gifts, and stuff…they were the first wholehearted materialistic culture!
However, I think we need to heed the warning of Christ because we put stock in the price of an engagement ring instead of the relationship it represents. We like to be given gifts, have things paid for, and all of these things are never more important than the people who surround us, love us, and are connected to us. This is true in our faith walk as well. We should never place anything over our God who makes all possible—because it was God’s efforts to pursue us that allowed grace to be poured out in the first place.
Jesus calls the Pharisees “blind guides,” and warns them of the “sorrow that awaits.” If our relationship with God is primarily focused on the gold and gifts and not the one who makes our lives sacred…then the same can be said of us. Let’s pray that we are guides who know where we are going and that what awaits is a joyful reunion!
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.