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Crossing the Line, part 1
Sometimes I think we can take the attitude that Jesus merely followed His Father’s desires for Him to go to the cross and thus He was fulfilling prophecy. However, the passion Jesus shows in these verses reveals that it is more than just fulfilling prophetic Scripture. Jesus is genuinely broken over the lost-ness of people. His searing words to the Pharisees are a last attempt to turn them from the path they are on.
Lest we think that nothing Jesus said affected the Pharisees, we must be aware that He actually won over many of the Pharisees. John 3:1-2 “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs You are doing if God were not with Him.’” In the book of Acts we see a number of Pharisees who were influenced by Jesus, including Gamaliel the teacher Paul sat under.
However, Jesus pulled no punches with them in expressing how He felt about them leading the sheep astray. Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees,you hypocrites!You clean the outside of the cup and dish,but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee!First clean the inside of the cup and dish,and then the outside also will be clean.”
Jesus uses the word “hypocrite” six times in this chapter. It’s an interesting word because one of the Greek meanings for this word is “actor,” or “stage player.” The word hypocrite has such negative connotations to it that to associate it with the word actor doesn’t make acting sound like a very good profession does it? The difference, however, is this: an actor lets us know they are acting. When we go to a movie we realize the person playing the part is merely imitating someone or something. I don’t believe Jesus would ever have a problem with someone purposely acting when we know they are acting. He seems to have more of a problem with people who are actually acting but make us think they are not. The hypocrite is the person who professes to be something he is not.
In this case they claimed to be clean while they were actually dirty. This is a fairly simple lesson. The only way to have a truly clean outside is to have a clean inside. When the heart is clean the outside will follow suit. Isn’t it interesting how the inside can affect the outside but the outside cannot affect the inside. No matter how hard a man tries to get right with God through outward actions alone, he will never accomplish what he wants. But if a man will surrender his heart to Jesus and subsequently clean the inner parts, the outer takes care of itself. King David said in Psalm 51 that God desires truth in the inner parts.
Matthew 23:27-28 “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’sbones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way,on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Jesus seems to pile it on in this woe. It’s much the same as the last one. Again He talks about the outside being white while inside it’s still filthy.
In the middle-east there are still areas where the tombs are kept clean and white as snow. They serve as a striking emblem of those painted hypocrites, the Pharisees, beautiful without, but full of dead men's bones and uncleanness within. The law considered people unclean who touched anything belonging to the dead. Tombs were often whitewashed so they could easily be seen, so a person did not unknowingly touch one. Being washed or “whited,” they appeared beautiful; but within they contained the bones and corrupting bodies of the dead.
So the Pharisees with their outward conduct appeared well, but their hearts were full of hypocrisy, envy, pride, lust, and malice. They are suitably represented by the corruption within a whited tomb.
Medication: A Merry Heart
ADVICE FROM AN OLD FARMER, Part 2
~ Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
~ Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
~ Live a good, righteous life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
~ Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.
~ Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
~ If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
~ Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
~ The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.
~ Always drink upstream from the herd.
~ Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
~ Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
~ If you get to thinkin’ you're a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
God Bless, Press On!
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Isaiah 26:3 CSB
Today’s readings: 1 Kings 7 & 2 Chronicles 4