(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
(12). Three Afflictions Upon The Pharisees And Three Upon The Lawyers
Pharisees: “…you Pharisees…… are full of greed and wickedness.”
Here again we see that the Pharisees were more concerned with the outward ceremonial activities that could be seen by others, rather than being concerned about what really made them unclean before God ; thus, the Lord Jesus decrees three “woes” upon them: “Woe to you Pharisees because….. you neglect justice and the love of God; …..you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces; ……you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”. Thus the Pharisees would reap the afflictions of all those who seek to please others, rather than seeking to please God in all their thoughts, words, and deeds
Lawyers: “…woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you ….will not lift one finger to help them.”
These “experts in the Law” by adding so many rules and regulations to the Law of Moses, made it very difficult for the people; and they offered no help, only finding ways to circumvent these rules for themselves . “Woe to you…..Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world…”– they were building tombs for the prophets killed by their forefathers, thereby testifying to their approval of their forefathers actions; the Lord Jesus thus says, “Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’”– this quotation is not found in the O.T. so many scholars believe that God was speaking through the Lord Jesus – God is going to hold them accountable for the blood of all the prophets from Abel to Zechariah. The prophet Zechariah referred to here, prophesied to king Joash of the tribe of Judah at a time when the people had totally reject God and turned to idol worship, finally they refused the message of Zechariah and killed him in the courtyard of the Temple .
“Woe to you…. because you have taken away the key to knowledge…. and you have hindered those who were entering.” – these Lawyers were the ones who should have been teaching the Law of Moses to the people, but instead they taught their false interpretations and erroneous theology, keeping the people blind and ignorant of God’s way .
The result of this discourse was almost predictable as we read in the closing verses: “When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.” – they could not see that their actions would only lead to great distress for them.
(13). Warning Against Hypocrisy, Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit – The Parable Of The Rich Fool
“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Again the Lord Jesus warns His disciples that anything hypocritical, concealed or hidden, will be exposed; thus they should guard against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees . He continues by encouraging the disciples, in the face of the inevitable persecution by the Pharisees and religious leaders, telling them not to fear those who can only “kill the body” and can do no more; fear should be expressed to the One who, after “the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell”– God alone has this power! Therefore, fear Him! – God’s power and authority must be respected, the reason being that God knows everything about us and we are worth a great deal more to Him .
“…whoever acknowledges me…” – such acknowledgment must be greater than the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, since disowning [denying] the Lord Jesus Christ will mean that He will disown us before His Father and the angels of God . He also warns that speaking against the Son of Man will be forgiven, “but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” – here again we should understand that that we must NOT attribute to Satan that which is accomplished by the Spirit of God, because it rejects the person and work of the Holy Spirit and anyone that is guilty of such will not seek pardon from God; such a sin is the ultimate in unbelief .
The Lord Jesus then assures the disciples that when the hour of persecution does arrive, and they are brought before the rulers and authorities they should not be concerned how they will defend themselves, “for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” – This is demonstrated many times in the Acts of The Apostles as the Church was formed and went through its many persecutions .
This section ends with the Parable of the Rich Fool in which the disciples are warned to be on guard “against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” The parable is introduced by the request, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Such a dispute would normally be settled by rabbis, but here we find that this man was not paying full attention to Jesus’ previous teaching . The summation of the parable is that one can accumulate as much material wealth as possible but in the end, “This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” And the Lord Jesus warns, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” .