Seven times, Jesus pronounces the word "woe" on the spiritual leaders of His day.
Rather than type them all out here, read Matthew 23 (here's a link to make it easy for us to be able to read it).
One translation uses this term - "How terrible for you!"
Another says - "This is bad for you!"
The Message translates "woe" this way - "You're hopeless!" and at one point, "I've had it with you!"
As I read the passage, the feeling I get is judgment.
He exposes them.
He condemns them.
He comes just short of sending them straight to the pit, where they'd join the vipers, to which he likens them.
I'm quick to condemn.
Quick to judge.
So, I assign to Jesus my own proclivity.
In seeking to understand, I reduce Jesus to human-size.
I need to be careful of doing so. Especially here.
Certainly, Jesus is not afraid to confront these folks on their biggest sin-problem.
Hiding behind masks, they are hypocrites.
Does Jesus not care? Has He lost His compassion? His steadfast love? His patience?
Not at all!
Remember, Jesus is on point.
He's still trying to fulfill His mission.
"To seek and save those who are lost."
And, He's hit a brick wall.
Now, He warns them.
'There is great sorrow apart from Me.'
'You strain at gnats and swallow camels.'
'You look great on the outside, but inside of you is death!'
'You can expect WOE!'
What Jesus wants for them is great joy!
What He desires is to gather them like chicks under the wings of His protection and salvation.
Right here. On this day.
Jesus' heart began breaking.
Way before His Garden Prayer, Jesus' knew He would pay a price for the sins of these men, but they would choose to turn away...
When He spoke the word WOE, it wasn't judgment.
They had already condemned themselves. (John 3:17-21)
He literally felt the WOE that they would experience as they turned their backs on Him.
And, He walked back to Bethany that night, to lay His head down, one more night, heart-broken --- metaphorically, spiritually, and yes, literally.
Today's take away for me:
Have this attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
Exchange my judgmental, condemning heart for a heart-on-mission to seek and save the lost.
Remembering the grief that comes apart from Christ Jesus can keep me on point.