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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Barcus & Laura Neal

September 3rd, 2023: Jesus Confronts Hypocrisy- Luke 11:37-44

True Beauty, True Love

True Hearts and True Friends

Search where you may, defend what you will

The more the world defines

The less likely to be real


Isn’t this the truth? The more we find the world defining for us terms like beauty, love, and truth, the less we grasp them. The world is fickle. It changes the definition of reality and defines meaning as gaining political power and popular opinion. The world teaches that to get ahead, you must know how to act like someone you’re not and to learn to put on a good front. The truth you create, according to experts, is the truth that matters. “Keeping up with the Jones”’ and letting the standards of others determine your social value and self-worth run contrary to the simple truth the Bible teaches. God is never changing. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He expects that we will grow in the knowledge of Him and focus our minds on true things.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

God expects that we will act according to the beauty and wisdom He has given each of us and to give Him honor and praise. Our example is Jesus. He is Truth. We find our value in Him. There is no need to pretend. We are the children of God. This lesson speaks particularly to the sin of hypocrisy. To be a hypocrite is to live a lie. It’s an act committed out of insecurity, which results in pride.

And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.

The Pharisees were a religious sect in Israel that were very focused on keeping the rules and traditions of their faith. In this case, a Pharisee, who would be considered a leading expert in all things related to God, invites Jesus to join Him for a meal. What seems to be a friendly invitation, however, turns into more of an inquisition. The pharisee’s idea of friendship is much different from the way Christ defines it, for He said, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It would appear that the pharisee was much more interested in finding a way to disqualify Jesus than to love and serve Him.

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner.

So, let us first note that Jesus did not reject the Pharisee's invitation to eat, even knowing his heart’s intentions. Secondly, the hand washing mentioned here is not for cleanliness. It is a ceremony performed to the specifications of the law that the Pharisees had made into a lengthy production. Jesus extended grace and offered Himself to be known, even to a fault-finder, who obviously had less than a clean heart. The Pharisee didn’t just notice, he “marveled” that Jesus ate with unwashed hands. Since the time of Leviticus, many “laws” about cleanliness and hand washing had become tradition within Israel, and much of the original meaning had been lost. Jesus appears to be drawing this Pharisee into a teaching moment. Jesus knows the Levitical law, and He also knows the added legalism created by man. It is interesting to note that the ceremonial cleansing of a priest was a recognition that he was a man, a sinful creature, and that he was standing in the place of a servant of God, but only by the grace of God. A priest, being human, was unclean. But through obedience to God, he could become ceremonially clean and fulfill the jobs he was assigned to do. As we think about Christ’s encounter with the Pharisee, be sure to recognize who needs to be cleansed. Those who are not stained with sin, in this case the sinless son of God, does not need rituals to symbolize His purity. He is pure, and He is holy.

And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

Jesus uses some strong language toward His host, yet He speaks truth. Jesus is concise and to the point. You clean up the outside, but I see what is hidden inside. Ravening and wickedness are interesting word choices.

Ravening- Hungry, to turn on, and to devour.

Wickedness- The opposite of righteousness, badness, evil.

Those words are not at all the words that the Pharisee would use to describe himself. Jesus sees what we are hiding. He sees the things we pretend do not exist in our lives. Posing to be something we are not, pretending to be wise, holy, righteous, and good, is a show only for an audience of fools, not for the God who made us. Jesus pulls no punches. He tells us what they really are even though we are working so hard to look worthy of praise from peers and people.

How do we clean up our insides today? We allow the light of God to reveal to us what needs to be removed. We read scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to do for us what Jesus is doing for the Pharisee, giving him a good look at himself. We ask God to show us who we are… faults, failures, weaknesses, flaws, and all. It is only when we see ourselves in the truth of God’s word that we improve our relationship with God. The good news is that His word does not change. We don’t have to worry that like the world’s public opinion, the standards will change. God is the same forever. We have a confidence that we can build our lives according to His word.

It is only when we see ourselves in the truth of God’s word that we improve our relationship with God.

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

A woe in scripture is a very serious and dire warning. Woes are used frequently by the prophets to tell of deep suffering, affliction, grief, or calamity coming because of the righteous anger of God. They are usually for stubbornness, rebellion, and refusal to correct paths and turn toward God. Jesus gives this Pharisee three woes to share with all of his fellow Pharisees, not just himself. The three woes here encompass the whole sinful nature of man. The first woe focuses on where you put your offerings to God. The Pharisees were meticulous about how many made up a tithe unto the lord. Jesus says yes, to do that is fine, but you forgot the more important part of right judgment and showing the love of God. We, as they, can get so caught up in giving, the rituals, and the rules of church that we forget that where our heart is matters most of all. Our discernment regarding actions toward the people in our lives, the things we have been given, and the opportunities we encounter need to be in submission to the will of God. Do we love the Lord God above everything and not in word alone but also in deed? Do we love our neighbor as ourself? In layman’s terms, would we appreciate it if what we did to others was done to us? Ouch.

The second woe is looking for acceptance from the world. Developing my self-worth based on what others think of me is wrong. Tethering myself to awards, accolades, diplomas, trophies, accomplishments, and social standing are all things that are determined by the world and will be burnt up someday as foolish. Instead, let us tightly bind ourselves to Jesus. I wish we were not all guilty of being tied to the wrong things, but we are. We like to have people brag on us. We like to be known for our amazing abilities and personality. But the truth is that the one whose opinion matters is God. We are children of the King. Where do we turn to find our value? It should be turning to our Creator, who is full of love, mercy, and grace, to find our place and purpose.

The third woe - oh my! If you ever wondered where your great-grandparents got the idea that it was bad luck to step on a grave, here might be the answer. It is considered defiling for a Jewish person to step on a grave. None would do this willingly. However, if a grave is not marked, they could accidentally walk across and never know. The warning to the pharisee is that he looks very good and holy by following his rituals, but in fact, he is an unmarked grave. Those who follow his footsteps are walking above a deadly trap and are unknowingly unclean. Those he has authority over are given a false hope. He is a false teacher. Let us walk in the newness of life offered by a redeeming Savior and turn away from the fake fleeting relationships offered by the world.

1 Peter 1:22-25

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Thank you for studying with us! God bless!



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