29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
The eighth and last “woe” shows religious leaders as partaking in the very things they disavowed. Their words and their actions were inconsistent.
Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous [just],
The scribes and Pharisees pretended to honor the prophets by work on the tombs. They seemingly honored prophets of the past, but they were motivated by pride and self-sufficiency.
and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
They even said that if they lived in the time of the prophets they would have not martyred the prophets. The Pharisees thought they were better than their fathers.
“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
Religious leaders wore façades covering up lack of openness to the prophets. They were inescapably like all those who rejected the message before them because at this moment they plotted to kill Jesus the Messiah. Like father, like son.
Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.
They admitted that it was their fathers who killed the prophets. By repeating the rejection of previous generations, they completed what those generations did—attacked the prophets. Jesus exposed their pretention in this.
Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
Jesus called religious leaders “serpents” and a “brood of vipers.” “Serpents” was the general word for snakes, but “vipers” were small, poisonous snakes.
Jesus reached a climax by asking the religious leaders why they should escape hell. They could not escape from the long arm of God. Religious leaders were poisonous snakes because of what they taught. Here religious leaders preached their poison to unsuspecting multitudes.
Jesus had the capacity to pronounce woes without personal vindictiveness. He could deal with justice and truth without relating it to His person.
The greatest threat to Christianity is the false prophet.
Jesus reserved His strongest and most scathing denunciation for false prophets. The reason was that these people appeared to speak for God, but they actually spoke for the devil. They were exceedingly deceitful. It is amazing that evangelical leaders are afraid to confront cults and false religions even in the face of the fact that many weak evangelicals will fall for falsity. Both Old Testament and New Testament authors confronted false teaching.
Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?