Matthew 21-23 contains the most remarkable extended confrontation of Christ with the religion of outward pretense in all the gospels. And yet Matthew 23 ends on a hint of hope even for those He has confronted (23:39).
We have been gradually prepared for this confrontation from previous ones, from as early as chapter 2 (2:3ff). And we should expect that Matthew, who wrote presenting the Messiah from the first verse onward (Matthew 1:1, "Jesus, the Messiah,"), will present Him not only in His relationship to those in support, but in His relationship to those who oppose Him; in relationship not only to that which supports, but to that which opposes Him.
For the Lord knows to deal, in real-time, on the spot, with the sin of those who sin against Him. Where discussion suffices, He explains with discussion (21:16). When there is hypocrisy behind the discussion of a subject, He dismisses the subject, but not those discussing (21:28,33,40; 22:1), and continues until they themselves go off (22:15), at least temporarily (22:16). He confounds their intellectual traps (22:15), and conundrums (22:28-30), and along the way shows such an obvious mastery of the Old Testament (22:32,37-39,44-45) that not only are those kinds of questions stopped, but the crowds are astonished at His teaching (22:33). Along the way, the reader hears a summary of the whole Law and Prophets (22:40).
People might say not to memorize chapter 23, because it is so specific to those people and that time. Is it? Regarding people (23:12)? And is it, regarding the time (23:39)?
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