29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? 34 “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ ”
Jesus ends His list of woes with a very revealing point. This is one we must take to heart because we are guilty of doing the same! How often do we read the stories of Ancient Israel and shake our heads at their disobedience and lack of faith in God? They say hindsight is 20/20 but constantly looking back blinds us in the present. Jewish tradition called for the honoring of the past prophets and those whom are referred to as fathers of the faith. Meanwhile they criticize those who buried the prophets claiming they would not have done that (keep in mind these are the same folks who would begin to conspire against Jesus and later His disciples). Now be careful before you start to shake your hypocritical head at the words and actions of these Pharisees, because we do the very same thing!
We let our theology get in the way of hearing messages sent through others from God. It’s a risky business, because we also don’t want to be deceived by wolves in sheep’s clothing, do we? So how do we know the difference? Jesus said you will know them by their fruits (outward actions) but even the scribes and Pharisees criticized Jesus and His followers for their actions because they were counter to the religion. But did the Pharisees ever pray about Jesus? Did they ever seek God’s guidance about His disciples and what they were doing? There are some men who came to realize that even though Jesus was countercultural to the Pharisaical establishment, He was never wrong in His words or actions. In Acts, the head Pharisee counsels the other leaders telling them not to be so worrisome because if they are acting on their own, it will fade away but if they are acting under the authority and power of God, then nothing can stand against them. Perhaps he didn’t understand everything that was transpiring, but his wisdom kept him out of trouble!
Jesus instructs us in His Sermon on the Mount to judge with righteousness and purity of heart. If we don’t first seek His righteousness in our lives and ask Him for guidance and wisdom in situations like this, then we begin walking down a path that will only condemn ourselves. Jesus said He wanted to take in all of their children to protect them from the evil that they were producing. Imagine how He feels about our children today!
It makes me wonder how many people I have ignored that were speaking God’s truth. How many people have I scorned and turned away because what they were saying didn’t match up with my theology? How much have I missed because of my own pride and ignorance?
Jesus tells them that He will not return to Jerusalem until Holy Week, when He will be led to His slaughter…fulfilling the words He had just spoken to them about killing prophets. He tells them that “their house” is being left desolate because as He leaves, so does God’s presence. This is what happens when we reject God’s truth in exchange for our own understanding.