Matthew 23:16–22 (ESV)
Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees (Woe #3)
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You
blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound
by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And
whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
Who are the blind guides? Well, it the scribes and Pharisees. When you read today’s reading, Jesus is flipping around what they are saying. They are putting the gifts of gold as higher than the
altar. Unfortunately, I see this going on in churches today where the Word and Sacraments are disregarded as traditional and not necessary. Many churches have all but done away with communion where we receive the body and blood of Christ “for
the forgiveness of sins.” Baptism is something that can be put off until you get tired of listening to grandma. We are no swearing by the Word and Sacraments, but it is what saves us. The Holy Spirit is at work in the Word and Sacraments.
The Words and Sacraments are the Means of Grace. The term “means of grace” denotes the divinely instituted means by which God offers, bestows, and seals to men forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
I pray: O Lord, help us to not forget your altar, communion, or baptism. Through your Word, you established… even commanded… that the church carry out your sacraments. Help
us to not forget what is spiritual. Amen.