“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13)

Jesus is confirming that not only do the teachers and administrators of the ecclesiastical Jewish temples not represent God, but they also, by their hypocritical fakery, keep others away from their relationship with God.

This is one of the worst abominations - to advertise to save people and actually be thwarting people from reaching their relationship with the Supreme Being.

Ironically, this tradition has continued through this day, even among the very institutions and their teachers that claim to represent Jesus. These ecclesiastical sectarian organizations supposedly following Jesus have taken the very course that Jesus condemned among the Jewish temples of his time. Jesus predicted this scenario as well:
“Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Matt. 7:21-23)
We have seen many "fruits" among ecclesiastical sectarian institutions over the centuries, including imprisoning or murdering people who don't attend their churches, and more recently, of priests who have abused young children who came into their church to "enter heaven." Instead of being guided spiritually, these hypocritical teachers sexually abused them.

So we must ask, is this simply a few isolated priests that have gone rogue and have used the institution to become abusive?

No. The entire institution - along with many other ecclesiastical sectarian organizations - became hypocritical. It became hypocritical because while they claim to be representing Jesus - who asks us to love and serve God - their focus is their own power and authority. They use the name of Jesus to to preserve their power and authority over their congregations. They elect their teachers from among themselves - through councils and electorates of cardinals, bishops and deacons. And they pay themselves salaries from the alms of their students - creating a business from the position of teaching. Was this sanctioned by Jesus?

If turning church into a business by collecting salaries is condoned by Jesus, why did he turn over the tables of sellers at the synagogue? Why did he say:
“Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16)
We must therefore ask: What is the difference between church bazaars and bake sales and rummage sales - and a priest collecting a salary - and this market in the courtyard of the temple?

It is these facilities that produced the ability for these teachers to conduct their abusive behavior. It is because these sectarian institution, composed of politically-minded hierarchies of councils and committees, appoint their teachers through election and pay them as other professionals are paid for their services.

To these, we can only offer Jesus' own words:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!"

The reason why Jesus rejected these ecclesiastical Jewish officials - even though they claimed to follow the teachings of the prophets as Jesus did - the Jewish officials abused their authority, being focused upon maintaining their authority and the authority of their institution rather than upon serving the Supreme Being.

"You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces."

How does an ecclesiastical teacher shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces, blocking them from entering?

With their words. It is done by misinterpreting scripture. It is done by bending and twisting the teachings of Jesus, Moses, David, Jacob, Samuel, Job, Zechariah, Abraham and Joshua and other representatives of God. It is done by misrepresenting the lives and teachings of God's loving servants, in other words.

It is also done by focusing people upon fanatical sectarianism in the name of one of God's representatives - instead of upon their actual teachings. Trying to trick people into thinking that if they join their fanatical sectarian organization, they will somehow become one of God's chosen actually distracts them from focusing on trying to come to know and love God. In other words, such a teaching, emphasizing joining a particular group and practicing certain rituals as though they are the end in itself - blocks their follower's ability to progress spiritually:

"You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” 

We see this fanatical sectarian approach cultivated by many institutions over the centuries. These institutions are not founded upon coming to know, love and serve God: They are built upon maintaining authority for those who organize and run the institution. They are no different than the Jewish organization of "teachers of the law and Pharisees" that Jesus was speaking of.

This is evidenced by Constantine's corruption of the Christian teachings (mediated through a political assembly of the Synod of Nicaea, producing the Nicene Creed) by the Roman government beginning in 325 A.D. - which evolved into the Roman Catholic Church. This same Roman Catholic institution violently ruled over Christianity for over next ten centuries.

This and other institutions seeking authority teach a corrupted interpretation of Jesus' teachings and life, namely that Jesus was God become man who died for our sins and all we have to do is accept that and we are saved. This allows people to continue their self-centered activities, and periodically attend church to wash their sins off on Jesus. Did Jesus teach this? No.

The kingdom of God is not entered by joining a church or sect or proclaiming being saved. It is accomplished by changing our consciousness from loving and serving ourselves to loving and serving the Supreme Being. In other words, it is about a relationship. There is no such thing as the kingdom of God without God. The kingdom of God is the place where the Supreme Being's loving children are engaged in a relationship of loving service with God. This is why Jesus taught:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)

 (For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus  - translated from the original Greek texts.)