It has been pointed out many times that some of Jesus’ harshest words were to religious leaders, and many of those quotes are pulled from Matthew 23:1-39. “You blind fools…brood of vipers…you hypocrites.” These are known as the seven woes in the Gospels and is Jesus talking about how religious leaders, far from making things better have actually made things worse. The crux of this though is found in the first few voices. The religious leaders have made themselves and their trappings into idols, trying to convince people to worship the position or the temple instead of a living God. Jesus points this out in the beginning of the passage of how the leaders liked to be noticed, be given places of honor, and taking converts away from the one, true God.
Jesus in pointing all of this out was trying to remove the idols of worship and religious leaders who had gotten off track, the idol of self from the path of those trying to truly seek God.
How many times have we put ourselves in front of God?
How many times have we looked for comfort or praise instead of God?
How often have we forgiven ourselves for our sins, but not named them, repented from them, or tried to change?
God, we confess that we have put ourselves in front of you. Even as Jesus spoke harshly with the religious leaders of his day, he could speak just as harshly with us. Please remove the barriers that we create ourselves, remove the ways that we get in our own way or the ways of others by making idols of self-worship, of comfort, and of our own self-importance. Remove these barriers from our lives and open us up to the light that we can find when we no longer walk in our own valley, but have found the mountain top of God. Amen.