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Jesus Says “Woe Unto Hypocrites”

As Jesus was getting closer to the culmination of His earthly ministry, He grew bolder in bearing witness of His own divinity and in chastising the wicked.  Citing the hypocrisy of the Jews was not new.  In many instances, as recorded in the Old Testament, God decried the hypocrisy of those who were supposed to be His Chosen People.  At many points, God rejected the sacrificial offerings the Jews brought to the temple and said the incense burned there was an affront to His senses.  The Jews were going through the motions of keeping the commandments, but their hearts were far from the Lord, and they were committing many sins for which they refused to repent.

Jesus Christ teaching in the temple MormonIn John 12:1–8 we see Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with precious, expensive oil.  It was just five days before the crucifixion, and Jesus was again sojourning with His friends at the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany, near Jerusalem.

“To anoint the head of a guest with ordinary oil was to do him honor; to anoint his feet also was to show unusual and signal regard; but the anointing of head and feet with spikenard, and in such abundance, was an act of reverential homage rarely rendered even to kings. Mary’s act was an expression of adoration; it was the fragrant outwelling of a heart overflowing with worship and affection” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 512).

Judas criticized this action and said the expensive oil could have been sold and the money used to help the poor.  He was focused upon the material event and missed the spiritual moment.  Christ behaved as a gracious receiver of this sweet gift.  Gifts graciously received can be a great blessing to the giver.  We should receive gifts from God the same way Christ received this gift from Mary.

The Triumphal Entry

Matthew 21:1–11 describes the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem.  Jesus’ fame preceded Him, because He had raised Lazarus from the dead.  As Jesus approached the city, he was greeted by a great multitude of people who spread their garments in his path and hailed him with palm branches, an honor usually reserved for kings and conquerors. This fulfilled a prophecy by Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9) and was a further witness that Jesus was the promised Messiah. [1]

Many of these same people would either be hiding in fear or turning against the Savior just a few days later, when He was arrested, beaten, and crucified, while manifesting no miracle to save Himself.  They would mistake His meekness for weakness and lose faith.


Matthew 22:15–46 describes how both the Scribes and the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into incriminating Himself.  They wanted Him to commit blasphemy.  But Jesus has eternally been more intelligent than all the rest of us put together.  The creator of worlds without number, Jesus had not only His native intelligence, but spiritual insights to confound His enemies.  When the scholars tried to trap Him into either blaspheming or saying words that would amount to treason against Rome, He provided the historic answer, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”

Temple-bridge-life-lmThe Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, yet they tried to trap Jesus, as recounted in Matthew 22:23–28Doctrine and Covenants 132:15–16, 19 clarifies Jesus’ teaching. Those who do not make and keep the covenants of temple marriage will be single in heaven. For those who do make and keep these covenants, marriage will last for eternity.  Marriages are not performed in heaven, but only on earth.  For those who pass on, temple marriages may be performed on earth by proxy.

The third attempt to trap Jesus can be found in Matthew 22:34–36.  Jesus was asked what are the two great commandments.  They are to love God with all one’s heart, mind, and strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.  If we but do this, we will keep all of God’s commandments.

“He loves the Lord with all his heart who … is ready to give up, do, or suffer anything in order to please and glorify him. He loves God with all his soul … who is ready to give up life for his sake and to be deprived of the comforts of the world to glorify him. He loves God with all his strength who exerts all the powers of his body and soul in the service of God. He loves God with all his mind who applies himself only to know God and his will, who sees God in all things and acknowledges him in all ways” (Elder Howard W. Hunter in Conference Report, Apr. 1965, 58; or Improvement Era, June 1965, 512).

In Matthew 23 Jesus condemns the sin of hypocrisy.  Jewish leaders of the time were rife with it.  It was the humble of Judea and Israel who fell at the feet of the Savior and made any sacrifice to follow Him.

The Righteous Pharisee:

Additional Resources:

Jesus Christ in Mormonism

Worship with Mormons





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