Read Matthew 23:23-39 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” These are easy words to say when the prophets are dead and can’t speak out against you. Ironically in just a few days, Jesus’ blood will be shed in response to their accusations; accusations fueled by their anger because Jesus speaks judgment against them. As His body is beaten their voices will shout out “blasphemy”. As He stands trial their voices will ring out, “Crucify Him.” As the stakes are driven through His flesh their voices will hurl insults. In many ways Jesus’ teachings can be difficult to take in. His words of truth ultimately drove many to lead the charge for His death. Today we may find our way through some of His more difficult teachings only by softening the blow, applying them to others but not ourselves, changing their intent or meaning, or just ignoring certain sections all together. All the while we wonder how anyone could have put the Savior of the world to death. Rather than absolve ourselves of responsibility for Jesus’ death because we were not there, it is important that we recognize that ultimately His blood is on our hands. Why? Because our sins (your sins and mine) require payment that can only be made through the shedding of Christ’s blood. While this truth might lead us to great guilt and shame Jesus invites us to something different. He invites us to see that angry shouts did not lead to his death but rather the plan of a gracious Father. Christ wants His blood to be on us, not as condemnation but as forgiveness freely given for our sake. Prayer Lord, thank You for shedding Your blood for my forgiveness. You have caused Your Word to be written for my learning. Grant that I may hear and read it, that in my learning I may be strengthened in Your truth and remain steadfast in Your grace. Amen.