Dave’s Devo: “Whoa” and “Woe”
Hugh and I climbed into his truck and headed for West Texas with two of the cutting horses he personally trained behind in the trailer. We were going to work with some cowboys for three days. Now Hugh’s horses were not like trail horses you road when you were a kid at camp. They were more like high performance race cars—only no steering wheel. In fact you did little with your hands. My mount did incredible moves on her own, and the little signals she needed were slight pressure from my thighs or clues with my boot heel. (I was not advanced enough to earn my spurs.) There was, however, an audible command you know well. “Whoa!” Only with this cutting horse you better mean it when you said it. Say “Whoa” at a full gallop, and my mare planted her front legs, instantly sank down her muscled hind quarters, resembling a frog, and you stopped dead. Hugh gave me careful instructions, “Dave, don’t say ‘Whoa’ unless you’re ready, or you’ll find yourself pitched over her head and on the ground.”
For the next few days in our devos, Jesus is not going to say “Whoa” even once. He is, however, going to say “Woe” seven times. In English it sounds the same, but Jesus meant a lot more than “Stop!” He meant, “You’re damned if you do the things I’m preaching against.” His seven woes were addressed to hypocritical religious leaders, and the first condemned those who refused to enter God’s Kingdom themselves and kept others from doing the same.
“Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, pretenders! You shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in the face of those trying to enter. You don’t enter yourself, and you don’t allow others to enter.” - Matthew 23:13
Jesus remains the only door into God’s Kingdom. Anyone who points away from this door faces Jesus’ “Woe,” and He is the final judge. Our tolerant, pluralistic culture preaches there are many doors, but before you try to get close to God another way, Jesus says, “Stop.” He doesn’t want you to join the group of play actors who face His damnation. He wants you to trust Him so that He can welcome you into His Father’s House.
LORD, as in the first century, there are many religious and moral experts who tell us that Jesus is not the exclusive door into Your Kingdom. Before we accept their evaluation of Jesus, help us to read carefully what Matthew says about who Jesus condemns and who He welcomes. Help me to open the door for others so that they can see Jesus.
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