“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”
-Like John the Baptist, Jesus addressed the Pharisees and Scribes as brood of vipers. The Pharisee spirit is also the spirit of vipers, which is a venomous snake in the family Viperidae. A viper has interesting characteristics like: – they are venomous and can kill with their poison, they are cunning, they are deaf and use their belly to hear, they are water proof, they can scale off their outer skin, they camouflage, they cannot move straight but meander etc. Like Pharisees, vipers bite and leave poison in the blood and as we know that the life of a creature is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). A Pharisee is a dangerous, treacherous and malignant person. The Pharisees and Scribes killed the prophets and could not listen to them. The Pharisee spirit is deaf and it’s main focus is the stomach instead of focusing on the word of God. They receive the word of God but it has no effect on their lives no matter much they hear. They can easy pretend or camouflage to shift in the direction where they benefit. They do not focus on Jesus wholeheartedly but they meander and are double minded. They are cunning and their ways are deceitful. Since the Pharisees interest was on the stomach, they allowed money changers and trade to do business outside the temple. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, churches, schools and other institutions have been closed. unfortunately some individuals want them open for their own personal interests and not for the common good. A brood means a family, therefore such self centered interests have become a conspiracy whose focus is on the stomach. Esau lost his birthright to his brother Jacob because of a bowl of soup. It is possible to loose one’s identity when we focus on the stomach. After forty days of fasting, Jesus was tempted by the serpent to turn stones into bread since he was hungry. He responded saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We are then called to hear His word and keep it, so that we may live according to His will and not be condemned.
Everlasting Father we come before You today thanking You for the gift of life and all the gifts You have bestowed unto us. You are the King of kings and Lord of lords, and none can be compared to You. All glory and blessings belongs to You. You have reminded us that it is important to focus our eyes on You and not on our stomach’s, give us the strength to seek You always with all our hearts. Grant all our leaders wisdom that they may know how to deal with the institutions they are in charge of especially during this time of COVID-19. Help us all to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness and all other things You will add unto us. For the many times we have compromised our faith and entertained the Pharisee spirit in our lives, we ask for Your forgiveness merciful Father. Forgive us all our sins and cleanse us from everything that does not belong to Your Kingdom. Only You are our Lord and Savior, grant us the wisdom to hear Your word and to keep it deep in our hearts that we may always do Your will. Guide us to understand Your word and to meditate on it day and night. Shepherd us and bless us loving Father that we may not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful, but to take delight in You law, and meditate on it day and night. Plant us Jesus like trees in the river of water that our leaves may never wither and we may bear much fruit in season. Bless the work of our hands so that whatever we do may prosper. Thank You Lord for You have good plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and future. Lead us throughout this week dear Lord and make all our plans succeed for only You are our Lord and King. Amen
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
-The Pharisee spirit is proud and considers itself more highly than others. When the Pharisee prayed at the temple, he did not consider himself a sinner but judged other men including the tax collector as being an extortioner, unjust and adulterous. Pharisees were commonly known to pray long prayers so that may be seen by men. Jesus taught that when we pray, we should go to our room and pray to our Father who is in the secret place and sees in secret, and He will reward us openly. (Matthew 6:5-6). The Pharisees also boasted of fasting twice a week but Jesus taught that when we fast, we should anoint your heads and wash your faces, so that we do not appear to men to be fasting, but to our Father who is in the secret place and sees in secret, and will reward us openly (Matthew 6:17-19). The Pharisees also failed to evaluate their own character and only judge other people by their mistakes. Those who have the Pharisee spirit only focus on the specks in another’s eye but fail to first remove the log in their own eyes. Jesus cautioned us against judging others saying; “do not judge and you will not be judged, do not condemn, and you will not be condemned, forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). The Pharisee spirit is self righteous. It does not consider its own weaknesses but condemns other. In Matthew 9:11-13, we find Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners. When the Pharisees asked why Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, He responded saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus calls us to repentance, for He desires mercy and not sacrifice. We are thus called to have humility and seek His counsel during prayer and fasting, and God our Father who sees in secret, will reward us openly.
Abba Father, thank You for Your mercy and kindness upon our lives. Thank You for Your grace and love upon us, our families and nation. Thank You for opening up our churches and economy for growth and prosperity. Thank You for Your blessings upon us from everlasting to everlasting. Thank You for Your love upon us Jesus, for even when we were still sinner, You died on the cross for our sins, and resurrected so that we may have life everlasting. Forgive us Jesus for we have sinned and fallen short of Your glory. Forgive us merciful Father and cleanse us with Your precious blood. We humbly come to Your throne of grace merciful Father, so that we may obtain mercy and grace to help us at our time of need. You have said in Your word Lord that humility comes before honor, help us dear Jesus to humble ourselves before You, and lift us up. Deliver us from judging and condemning others but give us the grace to forgive others unconditionally, for if we do not judge we will not be judged. Protect us from all evil and surround us with Your hedge of fire Holy Spirit. You are our Helper, Counselor, Intercessor, Comforter and Strength, we count on You at every moment of our lives. Our Father who art in heaven; hallowed be Your name; Your Kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptations but deliver us from evil; for thine is the Kingdom the power and the glory; forever and ever. Amen
“Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.”
-Jesus performed numerous acts of grace and during this time healed a man with a withered hand on a Sabbath. This offended the Pharisees who plotted to kill Him. The Pharisee spirit focuses on destruction rather than building up. It does not have any concern for humanity but inclined to religion and culture. It focuses too much on traditions and forgets to strive towards enhancing the kingdom of God. Sometimes traditions may hinder us from sharing God’s love with others. The Sabbath was made for us and not us for the Sabbath. Therefore, human lives matter more than the traditions of men. We also see in Matthew 15:1-2, where the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples transgress the tradition of the elders for they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. On another occasion, they complained that Jesus’ disciples plucked and eat grains on a Sabbath. Jesus replied saying, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3). This shows the Pharisees obsession with traditions rather than the glory of God, and the law rather than grace. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a shift in people’s mindsets towards their traditional way of doing things. For instance; the traditional way of worship, having meetings and celebrations, which have been distrusted from the norm to online settings. Some people who never went to church have also come to the knowledge of God and can since acknowledge Him as Creator, all knowing and ever present. It is also prudent to realize that God’s teachings are centered on the theme of love, love for God and neighbor. Love answers all things, love is stronger than death, God is love.
Thank You Jesus for You have redeemed us by Your precious blood and not with gold, silver, and precious metals. We declare Your redemption, mercy, blessings upon our lives, churches, families and nation. Thank You for loving us Jesus. Help us to love You and our neighbors as ourselves. Fill us with Your love Holy Spirit and help to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness. We declare that the gates of evil shall not prevail against Your church. Intercede for the church leaders and members, that the church may be stronger, robust and firm in faith. May Your light shine over all the airwaves and Your salvation touch all Your people. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, Kenya belongs to You Jesus and not political leaders, grant us Your grace we humbly implore You. May You be glorified in this nation from state house to every house. Reign in the counties, constituencies, wards and every homestead for we belong to You Lord. We lift Your banner higher upon this nation Jesus. You are the lion of Judah, may Your reign Jesus. Hold back the tide of COVID-19 in this nation and keep us safe Jesus. Thank You for protecting us and for Your presence in our lives, You are our Refuge and Strength, protecting us from all evil. The sun shall not smite us by day nor the moon by night, but You have prepared a table for us Your children and You shall supply all our needs according to the riches of Your glory Lord. You are anointing our heads with Your provisions, we bless Your name Lord. We declare an overflow in our businesses, marriages and families. Our cups will always overflow with Your goodness Lord, thank You Jesus praise You Jesus. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives and we shall dwell in Your house forever. Amen
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”
-The best part of Matthew chapter 23 is a lamentation to the Pharisees and Scribes, who have been rebuked for their hypocritical ways and self gratification. Although they gave a tenth of garden herbs which were commonly used for fragrance in the temple, their ways blinded their followers. Mint is a garden herb, which was sprinkled on the floors of the synagogues to produce a pleasant fragrance. Anise which is also known as dill, and has a fine aromatic smell, is used by confectioners and perfumers. Cummin is a plant of the same genus like fennel and used as for manufacture of spice. Pharisees were also referred to as blind guides for they led others astray. Instead of focusing on weightier matters like; justice, mercy and faith, they only considered the law but did not understand it. Like a person who looks in a mirror but see a different face, they did not understand the perfect law of love even though they pretended to live by it. They did not adhere to justice which is the administration of law in courts of judicature and execution of good judgments. Merciful acts of compassion to the distressed, relieving the necessitous, distributing to their wants and showing all kindness and beneficence to the poor and needy, which they seldom practiced. Faith in Jesus even after performing many signs which they also requested. Further, believing in the word of God and His promises, and loving Him and their neighbors as commanded in the law.
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into the heart of man, the things which You God has prepared for us who love You. Help us to love You more and to always rely on Your mercy, love and justice. You are worthy Lord to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth. We have faith in You Lord. Your are our good Shepherd Jesus guide us in the way we should go. Direct all our leaders especially our president so that His decision may only come from You. Bless our nation Lord and bless the work of our hands, so that we may increase in the land. Give us the desires of our hearts and make all our plans succeed according to the riches of Your glory. Bless us Lord and keep us, make Your face shine upon us and be gracious to us, lift Your countenance upon us and give us peace. Amen
“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
-The Pharisees wore long robes and ensured their external appearance was perfect but neglected the inside. Jesus said to them, “Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matthew 23:26). When Samuel was instructed to anoint king David as king of Israel, we find out that; God does not look at the external appearance but the heart of men. The Pharisee spirit neglects faith in Christ which produces righteousness; for we know that the righteous shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). Abraham believed in God and it was accounted to him as righteousness, and we are called to hold fast faith in Jesus Christ. If then through faith in Him, our righteousness will exceed that of Scribes and Pharisees, we will inherit His heavenly kingdom.
Often times in the Bible do we see Jesus facing opposition by the Pharisees, which is referred to as the Pharisee spirit. In Matthew 12:27-28, we find the Pharisees who opposed Jesus who cast out demons and accused Him of casting out demons by Beelzebub; the ruler of the demons. Jesus responded saying “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:27-28). Jesus did not consider them as members of His kingdom but the kingdom governed by demonic forces, which is the Pharisee spirit. He also referred to them as blind guides, for they were leaders who though having the law, did not have a clear sense of direction. The light of God did not shine in them and thus could only lead people astray. Jesus referred to them as, “blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14). Jesus also referred to them as hypocrites. For they shut up the kingdom of heaven against men. They neither went in themselves, nor allowed those who sought to enter to go in (Matthew 23:13). We are called to have poverty in Spirit like little children; so that we may be filled, and we shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is the Door to eternal life, and without faith in Him, one cannot enter. The Pharisees were also referred to as brood of vipers, for they knew too much about the law but neglected to follow after love, as stipulated therein. They heard too much on the word of God but did not retain anything. They were deaf to hear it and only focused on their stomachs. They also camouflaged and had a double-minded attitude to deceive men. They did not consider weightier matters like faith, justice and mercy but always sort to destroy Jesus. Like venomous snakes, they bit their prey and let the poison slowly kill them. When they prayed and fasted, they sort to be seen by men for self glorification and not the glory of God, for they never knew Him. They also sort after traditions and not the kingdom of God through love for God and others.
Thank You Everlasting Father for Your mercy and love upon our lives. Thank You for seeing us through the week in good health and perfect peace, all glory and blessings belongs to You. Be with all those who are sick and suffering that You may heal them, for by Your stripes we were healed. We cast all our burdens unto You Jesus for You care for us, heal all our wounds and protect us from all evil. Have mercy on those who are infected with COVID-19 that You may heal them and deliver them from all their troubles. Be with those who have been affected either directly or indirectly with this pandemic that Your peace that surpasses all understanding may dwell in their hearts. Settle the hearts of the medical practitioners and grant them courage as they serve Your people. Be with all those who are imprisoned and deliver them from all their troubles. Remember all those who live in the streets that You may always be with them, provide for all their needs and make a way for them even where there seems to be no way. You are the way, the truth and the light Jesus, make a way for all of us in our various situations even where there seems to be no way, we humbly ask You. You are our good Shepherd lead us in all truth and deliver us from the Pharisee spirit. Forgive us all our sins and cover us with Your precious blood. Save us and our families from the final wrath, so that we may inherit Your heavenly kingdom. Fill us with the gift of salvation and help us to set our minds on the things above and not on the things below, holding fast faith in You and putting in works as You have called us; for the benefit of Your kingdom. Lead us into all truth Jesus and help us to fulfill the purposes for which we have been called here on earth, for the glory of Your name. Hear all our prayers and answer all our hearts desires for You are our only Father, and all glory will come back to You, now and forever. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the love of God; and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; be with us now; and forevermore. Amen