"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?"
We have always told our boys that name-calling was wrong. But when I read this passage, it’s hard to reconcile that parenting principle with thoughts of “What Would Jesus Do?” Lest we think Jesus is only tender, meek, and mild, Matthew relates with elaborative clarity just how strongly Jesus opposes the spiritually proud. A full chapter is spent dressing down the impeccably dressed. Jesus’ confrontational love would “tell it like it is.”
We would all do well to read through this chapter once in a while. Jesus didn’t oppose the Pharisees because of their robes. His issue was with the condition of their hearts. After His strong words of woe to the Pharisees and to us whose hearts tend toward being pharisaical, Jesus closes with the ache of His own heart: how He longed to gather His children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings (v. 37). But people are stubborn, aren’t they? We always have been. May Jesus’ confronting and loving words draw us into a self-denying, real relationship with Him.
As you read this passage, does your conscience remind you of where Jesus may be calling you to recognize your own hypocrisy?