For what reason did Jesus pronounce His first woe upon the scribes and Pharisees? See Mat 23:13; cf. Luk 11:52. Notice that the NASB “shut off” = KJV “shut up” and refers most frequently to the shutting of a door; what is the door through which one must enter into God’s kingdom? See Joh 10:9, 14:6. What in particular is the “key of knowledge” that unlocks the gospel of Christ’s salvation and allows one to pass through that door? See Mat 16:19, Act 2:37-38, 3:19. In what way is sincere repentance the key to understanding the gospel of our salvation? See Job 28:28, Luk 13:1-5, 24:47; think too: even if one believes all the right things but does not repent, can he be saved? Cf. Jam 2:19. Although the scribes and Pharisees advocated a strict adherence to the law, what had they done to take away this key to God’s kingdom from people? See Luk 3:3, 7:29-30 and cf. Mat 21:25; think too: although religious, had they truly repented of their love for the world? See Mat 23:4-7,14, Luk 16:14-15. How is this similar to many religious leaders today? Think: if another Elijah in the form of John the Baptist appeared today calling people to a sincere repentance, how many religious people, including their leaders, would respond alongside the sexually immoral and drug addicts, and how many would suppose that because of their religion they are already better than such sinners and so have no need to repent, even though they commit adultery with the world and in many cases are just as addicted to “legal” drugs?
What does Jesus say in Mat 23:13 to the scribes and Pharisees was the result to themselves of rejecting a true heartfelt repentance? Although that was bad enough in itself, how does Jesus say the religious leaders added to their religious crimes? See also Luk 11:52. Consider that because they were leaders, their resistance to the gospel call to repentance was a passive hindrance to a great many simply because they followed their leaders (cf. Heb 13:17); what does this remind us about the great responsibility that comes with leadership? Cf. Jam 3:1. But even beyond their greater responsibility to not lead others astray, by what means did they also actively hinder those who were entering? See Mat 11:18-19, 12:22-24, 21:23, Mar 9:14, Joh 7:46-52, 9:22,24,34; note also that “from men” (Mat 23:13, NAS) and “against men” (Mat 23:13, KJV) is literally “before men”, and carries the meaning found in the NIV: “You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces”. Did they stop even after Jesus’ crucifixion? See Act 4:17-18, 5:28,40, 1Th 2:15-16. Although it was primarily the Jewish religious leaders that we read about in the New Testament who were hindering people from entering God’s kingdom, were they the only ones? See Act 13:8. In what way has that same religious spirit of the world always sought to hinder people from entering God’s kingdom? Cf. 2Ti 3:8. In what sorts of religious people does that spirit still dwell today? Although they may claim to be non-religious, in what way does that same religious spirit of the world dwell in many atheists and evolutionists? Again, what three words summarize the divine condemnation upon all in every age who would hinder others from entering God’s kingdom?
Consider then the many hindrances to one entering the kingdom of God by grasping the key of knowledge to turn from one’s own understanding in sincere repentance to trust Jesus who is the way and the truth and the life—the door through which one must enter into eternal life. Those who love this world hinder both passively, because others look up to them, and actively by ridicule, scorn and persecution. Hypocrites hinder by their false example, which either drives others away because it is recognized as hypocrisy, or misleads them to believe that they too can be saved without a sincere repentance by simply pretending to be righteous even though they are not. In addition to these is our own sinful nature that is in rebellion against God and in agreement with the nature and character of Satan; it loves this world and the things in it that are pleasing to one’s flesh and has no faith to give up that which it cannot keep for that which it cannot lose. Because of such hindrances, what must those do who would enter God’s kingdom and be saved? See Luk 13:24, Mat 7:13-14, Deut 4:29. Shall we then understand that salvation is inherently difficult to obtain, or that it is such hindrances as these that make it difficult to obtain? See Rom 10:5-13. By what means only, at the heart of repentance, is one able to overcome all such hindrances and be born again to receive the resurrection power of Christ to walk in newness of life? See Joh 12:24, Gal 2:20.