On the fourth day of journeying to the Cross, we find Jesus teaching those following Him once again. As He often did throughout the gospels, Jesus was right in the face of the religious leaders of that day. In Matthew 22:13 we read: "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You lock up the kingdom of heaven from people. For you don't go in, and you don't allow those entering to go in." Wow!!! That is strong words for the religious leaders of that day and for us to consider this day.
Do we "lock up the kingdom of heaven from people"? The first thing we need to know before answering that question is what is meant by locking up the kingdom of heaven. We know from reading the gospels that the Pharisees were famous for keeping the law to the fullest. They obeyed the law handed down from God to Moses. They also obeyed all the additional man-made laws added over the years. These Pharisees were holy - at least in their own eyes and the eyes of other Pharisees. How were they locking up the kingdom of heaven from the people? They were making it impossible for people to live up to the laws. The expectations were extremely high. Only the best of the best could qualify. God's love was reserved for only those who fit into this way of living.
We fall into the same trap when we expect people to clean-up their acts before coming to Christ. Lost people will act like lost people. They cannot and will not clean-up their own acts because it is impossible. They need a Savior that is for all people, not a Savior that is for the best-of-the-best. People need to seek through our lives the love that God has for all people, including the messed up and sinful.
Today, may our lives show people the love and forgiveness that is found only in Jesus. It is my prayer that we not be guilty of locking up the kingdom of heaven and keeping people out of it because we have gotten in the way. We simply need to continue to point them to the Cross - where Jesus died for the sins of all people & to the empty tomb - where Jesus overcome both death and hell. Because He lives, salvation is available to "whosoever will" surrender to and follow Him.
Praying Today for:
(1) The Lake O' the Pines community of Lassater
(2) The State of Minnesota
(3) The Nation of Iraq
(4) The Southeast Asian Peoples throughout the World