27“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Matthew Chapters 23-25 Holy Tuesday – Jesus teaching in the temple –
Teaching about the last judgement, teaching about the temple being destroyed, about His return.
Denounces the scribes and Pharisees for just being concerned about what other people think. But when Matthew is relaying this 40 years after Christ died and raised, he is writing it FOR the Christians.
When he talks about white washed tombs, and when we read about white washed tombs – it’s all about how our inside is matching up with our outside.
You see, on the outside, to the outsiders at that time, Jesus would have appeared just about like the Pharisees. The Pharisees talked about Elijah, Jesus talked about Elijah, The Pharisees obeyed the Law of Moses, Jesus obeyed the Law of Moses. The Pharisees were teaching people, Jesus was teaching people. On the outside, they could have easily appeared the same and to many people they probably DID appear the same. But we know they were not the same.
For us, what we put in is what we get out.
I did this illustration with kids with two Blenders – In one I put spoiled milk, potting soil, sardines, and anything else that I could think of that was disgusting.
In the other, I put chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, peppermint candy canes, cookies, etc. They even looked the same through the blender glass.
They look exactly the same, but what was inside was different. Had to do some inspecting to actually be able to tell the difference. But when you opened the lid, you could smell, er…tell the difference.
You see Jesus even said, they’re right. What the Pharisees tell you is right.
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
Just don’t follow their example. They make plans to be in the most populated places when it was time to pray. They followed the letter of the law without following the intent. This is often referred to as legalism. The problem is that Christ was the only perfect person. Nobody else is or has ever been perfect.
We all sin. And you don’t want to get me started about how we categorize sins. The ones others commit are worse than the ones we commit. I’m a little overweight, but at least I don’t smoke. I may do this, but at least I don’t do that.
The people wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery to death. But Jesus, defends her. As a matter of fact, he tells the woman caught in adultery that he does not condemn her. And he doesn’t say, sin no more and then I will not condemn you, but he says I don’t condemn you, now go and sin no more. But of the Pharisees themselves, Jesus says they’re hypocrites. Woe to You Scribes and Pharisees. Serpents, a brood of vipers, fools, and hypocrites (Matt. 23:13-33)
Here’s the problem between how we look at things and how Jesus looks at things: Jesus didn’t care about people’s status in society, or tradition, he didn’t care if you were a tax collector or a prostitute. He doesn’t care if you are Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian. He doesn’t care if you live in Australia, South Sudan, Ghana, China, or the United States. He cares about the inside. He cares about your heart.
My wife and I owned a restaurant that sold ice cream, hot dogs, and deep fried food. There was a man who came and said, you haven’t seen my brother for a while, have you? I said, no. Where has he been? The man said, he went to the doctor and the doctor told him he needed to stay away from food like this. But the man said that he could still come and eat there because he hadn’t been to the doctor. The man wasn’t worried about his inside.
There are a lot of people who look pretty good on the outside. Sometimes they look so good on the outside that they have everyone fooled. Sometimes people look so good on the outside that they even convince themselves.
I went to church for a long time before I became a Christian. It got to the point that I had everyone fooled, including myself. I was doing the good works, but I was a white-washed tomb full of dead man’s bones and everything unclean.
Do you know the hardest people to be saved? I think it’s the unsaved person who has gone to church for a long time. It’s the person who can’t admit they have never accepted Christ, because they have too much already invested in the façade. It’s easier to go on with the charade and keep everyone fooled than to have to actually admit that you had been living without Christ in your heart and as that He has not been Lord of your Life! The poor Pharisees were in that same boat. They couldn’t let everyone know that what they were doing was just a performance.
That they were really not perfect.
That they were not really able to follow all the laws.
That they were liars and hypocrites.
They did their best to impress everyone and missed the point.
I’m not talking about backsliding or eternal security. I’m saying that there are, no doubt, people who have attended church their whole life who are white-washed tombs who have never truly accepted Christ. I’m sure this isn’t anyone in your church, and I’m certainly not talking about anyone in mine, but there are no doubt a lot of churches with some whitewashed tombs in the pews. Lost people who attend just like the saved attend, do everything that the saved do, say everything that the saved say, so much so that On the outside, they easily appear the same. And it’s such a shame, because there is a way of escape. That’s what this coming weekend is all about. To save that which was lost.
And what about people who are Christians who appear to be the same as non-Christians? The Methodist church is like the Baptist church in that we don’t believe you are saved by works. But shouldn’t you be able to tell some difference between us as Christians and the world?
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
In Matthew 25, Jesus goes on to talk about those who gave him food when he was hungry, drink when he was thirsty, clothes when he was naked, and all the rest;
and we know that they didn’t literally do it to Jesus, they did it to those in need, but they did it FOR Jesus. Peter said: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
For those of us who are Christians, How is our inside matching up to our outside? Or the question might be better for us who are Christian, Does your outside match up to our inside? Do our actions match up with our claim to be Christians? I believe they have to. If it is not evident that we are Christians, then are we really? Or are we like the Pharisees of whom Jesus said, they say, but they do not do.
We too often live our lives as if we’re defeated, live our lives as if Jesus never came out of that tomb on Easter morning, live our lives as if it only matters what we say and not what we do. Or Live our lives as if we’ve been saved and we’re ready for heaven and we are just waiting.
Are we guilty of what Jesus said about the Pharisees, Do we love the place of honor…and the most important seats… Do we give a tenth, but neglect justice, mercy and faithfulness? Or do we even give a tenth?
Jesus’ warning to the scribes and Pharisees on the Tuesday of Holy Week is just as much for us today as it was for them. Some of us can sometimes think we’re really something. If we have been saved, it is by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and we should say and do what he has put in our heart. What is on the outside should match what Jesus Christ has done on the inside.
Micah 6:8 – What is required of us but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
And if you never have, this message is especially for you today.
God, I thank you for sending your Son Jesus Christ to pay the price for my sin, for living a perfect life because I can not. I know I am already a child of God by your grace through my faith. I ask you to help my life to become more like my heart and that every day there would be less of me and more of you. And Lord if there should be one this day who has been living as a whitewashed tomb, who has never let you into their heart, may today be the day they say this prayer. Lord Jesus, I have been doing your works, but I understand that isn’t all you want, you want my heart and I’ve never really given it to you. Come into my heart today. I accept Christ’s sacrifice for my sin, I turn away from them and I ask you to remember them no more. I claim the risen Christ as my savior. and I ask you to help me live for you. We pray in Christ’s name, Amen.
The topic was treated quite well.
Thank you for your kind words!
Really good piece with some thoughts that had never occurred to me. You have some zinger sentences. I like your metaphor of the blender. Thanks for the ideas.
This is great am blessed
Thank you for your kind words. Thanks to Jesus, I look forward to seeing you in heaven where we can rejoice together.