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LISTEN: Matthew 23: The significance of detail

Rev. David Pileggi looks at today’s gospel passage, in which Jesus rebukes the religious leaders of two thousand years ago; but this passage is also for the Church. What causes us to stumble in this passage? It is about law and grace. Distortions cause us to misread the text and have a distorted view of God Himself. We need to properly understand the Hebrew Bible and its proper context. Israel’s election is not by works. We love God because He first loved us; we are not working our way to heaven. God gives the Spirit to enable Israel and us to walk in His ways so that we can walk in obedience to his commandments. When it comes to the death of Jesus, the Pharisees are not involved. Some Pharisees come to believe; the Sadducees never do. The small sins of our hearts are just as significant to Jesus as the “bigger ones.” The way to greatness is serve, sacrifice, go down. What are our motives to obeying Jesus? Self-promotion and self-justification are seeking affirmation and acceptance. When you pray, fast and give, do it in secret. Those who are first will be last and the last will be first. The small sins may show or may not. Let’s examine ourselves and say “Turn the spotlight on my heart.” The divine is in the detail, the call of Jesus is to take the small stuff seriously.

Readings: Deuteronomy 6:13 -25, Ezekiel 36: 19 -31, Matthew 23: 1-12

David Pileggi
David Pileggi lives in Jerusalem with his wife Carol and their three adult children where he is the rector of Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem. They have lived in Israel for 33 years where David has worked as a journalist/researcher and for 19 years was director of a study program dedicated to teaching Christians about the Jewish context of their faith. David has an M.A. from the Hebrew University in Jewish Studies and is a licensed tour guide.

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