Matthew 23

1Then Jesus spoke to the people and to his followers. Jesus said, 2”The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have the authority ˻(power)˼ to tell you what the law of Moses says. 3So you should obey the things they say. You should do all the things they tell you to do. But their lives are not good examples for you to follow. They tell you to do things, but they don’t do those things themselves. 4They make strict rules that are hard for people to obey. They try to force other people to obey all those rules. But they themselves will not try to follow any of those rules. 5”The only reason they do good things is for other people to see them. They wear special boxes full of Scriptures. They make these boxes bigger and bigger. And they make their special prayer clothes very long ˻so that people will see them˼. 6Those Pharisees and teachers of the law love to get the most important seats at the feasts. And they love to get the most important seats in the synagogues. 7They love for people to show respect to them in the market places. And they love to have people call them 'Teacher.’ 8”But you must not be called 'Teacher.’ You are all brothers and sisters together. You have only one Teacher. 9And don’t call any person on earth 'Father.’ You have one Father. He is in heaven. 10And you should not be called 'Master.’ You have only one Master, the Christ. 11The person that serves you like a servant is the greatest person among you. 12Every person that makes himself better than other people will be made humble. Every person that makes himself humble will be made great. 13”It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You close the way for people to enter the kingdom of heaven. You yourselves don’t enter, and you stop the people that are trying to enter. 15”It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You travel across the seas and across different countries to find one person that will follow your ways. When you find that person, you make him worse than you are. And you are so bad that you belong in hell! 16”It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You guide the people, but you are blind. You say, 'If any person uses the name of the temple to make a promise, that means nothing. But if any person uses the gold that is in the temple to make a promise, then he must keep that promise.’ 17You are blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple? The temple makes that gold holy. ˻So the temple is greater.˼ 18And you say, 'If any person uses the altar to make a promise, that means nothing. But if any person uses the gift on the altar to make a promise, then he must keep his promise.’ 19You are blind. ˻You understand nothing!˼ Which is greater: the gift, or the altar? The altar makes the gift holy. ˻So the altar is greater.˼ 20The person that uses the altar to make a promise is really using the altar and also everything on the altar. 21And the person that uses the temple to make a promise is really using the temple and also the One that lives in the temple. 22The person that uses heaven to make a promise is also using God’s throne and the One that sits on that throne. 23”It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You give God one tenth of everything you own—even your mint, dill, and cummin. But you don’t obey the really important teachings of the law—being fair, showing mercy, and being faithful. These are the things you should do. And you should also continue to do those other things. 24You guide the people, but you are blind! Think about a person picking a little fly out of his drink and then swallowing a camel! You are like that. 25”It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You wash clean the outside of your cups and dishes. But inside they are full of things that you got by cheating other people and pleasing yourselves. 26Pharisees, you are blind! First make the inside of the cup clean and good. Then the outside of the cup can be truly clean. 27”It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You are like tombs that are painted white. The outside of those tombs looks fine. But inside, the tombs are full of the bones of dead people. And all kinds of unclean things are inside there. 28It is the same with you. People look at you and think that you are good. But on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and evil. 29”It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You build tombs for the prophets. And you show honor to the graves of people that lived good lives. 30And you say, 'If we had lived during the time of our fathers, we would not have helped them kill these prophets.’ 31You give proof that you are children ˻(descendants)˼ of those people that killed the prophets. 32And you will finish the sin that your fathers started! 33”You are snakes! You are from a family of poisonous snakes! You will not escape God. You will all be judged guilty and go to hell! 34So I tell you this: I send to you prophets and wise men and teachers. You will kill some of these people. You will hang some of them on crosses. You will beat some of these people in your synagogues. You will chase them from town to town. 35So you will be guilty for the death of all the good people that have been killed on earth. You will be guilty for the killing of that good man Abel. And you will be guilty for the killing of Zechariah son of Berachiah. He was killed between the temple and the altar. You will be guilty for the killing of all the good people that lived between the time of Abel and the time of Zechariah. 36I tell you the truth. All of these things will happen to you people that are living now. 37”O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets. You kill with rocks those men that God sent to you. Many, many times I wanted to help your people. I wanted to gather your people together like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you did not let me. 38Now your house will be left completely empty. 39I tell you, you will not see me again until that time when you will say, 'Welcome! God bless the one that comes in the name of the Lord.’”

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