“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13, NIV84)
There are two things I never want to hear from my Lord. The first is, “Woe to you!” The second is, “You’re not getting in!” When I hear Jesus speaking the “7 woes”, I hear the Prince of the kingdom of heaven no longer providing descriptive parables but royal judgments. If you have any question as to which kingdom is really in control, read Matthew 23. Jesus is speaking as the Lord of all. There are clear demarcations between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of heaven. And in these verses, Jesus is claiming all authority. He has the authority to judge…and He does.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day claimed an authority over the kingdom of heaven that was not theirs to claim. The further and further away from the truths of God’s Word they moved, the more disqualified from the kingdom of heaven they were making themselves, and sadly, anyone else they were winning to their religious beliefs. What the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and we need to realize is that the message of the kingdom of heaven is not our message. It is God’s message! It is not there for us to redefine and repackage. We are called to faithfully proclaim the message handed down to us through God’s Word.
At the end of the day, we have to know that it is not about us! God is not looking for us to add or subtract from His message because we think we’re bright and can do so. By redefining the message, we might end up misrepresenting the kingdom. This is what brings “woes!” from the Lord’s mouth. He is looking for us to simply be obedient to His Word and to His calling. We should see ourselves as tools God uses. He spreads the message of the kingdom through us. We are simply instruments. He supplies the message and the power of the Holy Spirit to deliver it.
May we today, and always, be true to the message of the kingdom of heaven.