The King's Farewell

August 16, 2019 Preacher: Gareth Franks Series: Hypocrisy & Grace

Topic: Christian Living Scripture: Matthew 23:29–33

Home Group Study - Sermon Date: 16 August 2019

Text: Matthew 23:29-33

Opening Discussion: A man tells the story when he was caught lying: “When I was about 5, I remember being in the bathroom and brushing my teeth. My mum was there and berated me for something. Later, being a sensitive child, I was crying in bed about it. My parents came in all concerned and my mum asked: “was it because I yelled at you earlier?” Embarrassed at being caught out so easily I said “no.. I’m sad because..because I can’t swim”. Soon after I was taken to swimming lessons. I hated swimming.” Can you relate to this? Share your story?


Matthew 23 records the most scathingly severe and serious message that Jesus ever preached. This was His last public message, before he would shortly go to the cross. Seven times the Lord called the Pharisees hypocrites. There are eight woes that the Lord pronounces upon the Pharisees. In our passage we look at the last of these “woes”.

The scribes and Pharisees claimed that they were in full agreement with the message and ministry of the prophets whom their forefathers had put to death, but in fact they were enemies to the TRUTH, to the gospel of Christ and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is foolishness to reject Christ and his offer of salvation, but even far more worse also to keep others from him, as the Pharisees were doing. Jesus has some very strong words of condemnation for the scribes and Pharisees, the strongest so far in this chapter.

Jesus makes it clear that these Pharisees stood self-condemned. While they were busy building monuments to the prophets of the past (v.29), claiming that they would have supported them had they lived in Old Testament times (v.30), they were at that very moment plotting to murder the greatest Prophet who had ever walked this earth. The Pharisees claimed to be better than their forefathers. They claimed to love the truth of God, but they rejected His Incarnate Truth: His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The scribes and Pharisees share in the guilt of their ancestors for killing the prophets. They actually “fill up” the measure of the sins of their forefathers. They are snakes, the offspring of snakes, and they will not escape being condemned to hell. Jesus said that He will send them prophets and wise men and scribes, whom they will persecute and kill, just exactly as their forefathers had done. They prove themselves guilty with their ancestors by repeating the sins of their forefathers by rejecting Jesus, and for killing Him. This present generation will be held accountable for the murder of every righteous saint from Abel onward (verses 35-36).

Investigation & Interpretation:

  • Read: Matthew 23:29-33
  1. Where in the Old Testament did the Israelites kill the prophets? v.30
  2. How were the scribes and Pharisees witnesses against themselves that they were sons of those who murdered the prophets? v.31
  3. What did Jesus mean when he said in v.32, “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers”? 
  4. Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees serpents & vipers (v.33). Why did John the Baptist use similar language in Matthew 3:7?

Application - How must I change?

  • Is there a Truth to be believed?

Bible commentator, Alexander Maclaren wrote, “Honouring dead prophets while seeking to kill living ones is hypocrisy.” Why do you think that the biblical doctrine of human depravity and those who faithfully preach it are so despised and rejected by our supposedly “tolerant” modern age?

  • Is there an Attitude to be fostered?

Jesus Christ takes very personally how we treat His Church. When you mistreat the people of God, you mistreat the Son of God. What are some attitudes and actions that display a miss-treatment of God’s church?

  • Is there a Behavior to be changed?

Puritan Thomas Watson commenting on Matthew 23:33 wrote, “many ships have had the name of Hope, the Safeguard, the Triumph, yet have been cast away upon the rocks; so many who have had the name of saintship have been cast into hell.” Pretending to be right with God can have disastrous consequences. What are some ways people pretend sanctification?


Matthew 23 records the most scathingly severe and serious message that Jesus ever preached. His severe words should convey to us how serious the rejection of Jesus is. The rejection of Jesus by Israel’s leaders, and by the people of Jerusalem, led to His crucifixion and to the destruction of Jerusalem. Rejecting Jesus as God’s promised Messiah is a most serious matter. It leads to God’s eternal judgment.

The good news of the gospel is that receiving Jesus as the Messiah leads to eternal blessings. Those who can say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” are those who will have their sins forgiven and who will spend eternity enjoying Him, and the blessings He provides. Let the severity of our Lord’s words serve to indicate how serious the decision is to accept Jesus or to reject Him, as Messiah, as God’s only provision for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.


Prayer Points:  

  1. Pray we would be people willing to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins. 
  2. Pray we would never justify our sin and make excuses for them.
  3. Pray we would love and value the righteousness of Christ above everything else.

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