February 28, 2021

Clean the inside of the cup

You blind Pharisee—can’t you see that if you clean the inside of the cup, the outside will be clean too?


February 21, 2021

The essentials of the law

So woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees. You hypocrites! You tithe from your luxuries and your spices, giving away a tenth of your mint, your dill, and your cumin. But you have ignored the essentials of the law: justice, mercy, faithfulness. It is practice of the latter that makes sense of the former.

February 14, 2021

Accoutrements of prayer in the seat of Moses

Jesus: The Pharisees and the scribes occupy the seat of Moses. So you should do the things they tell you to do—but don’t do the things they do. They heap heavy burdens upon their neighbors’ backs, and they prove unwilling to do anything to help shoulder the load. They are interested, above all, in presentation: they wrap their heads and arms in the accoutrements of prayer, they cloak themselves with flowing tasseled prayer garments, they covet the seats of honor at fine banquets and in the synagogue, and they love it when people recognize them in the marketplace, call them “Teacher,” and beam at them.