August 10

Text: Matthew 23:27, 28

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.  Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  (NASB)

Some of the most peaceful, pretty physical places are cemeteries.  In some, the monuments are impressive.  Often the sayings are thought-provoking.  The grounds are commonly manicured.  The flowers can add a touch of beauty to the park-like surroundings.

It is ironic that such beauty can mask such sorrow.  What appears on the surface hides the grotesque that few ever wish to see.  Nor do we want the buried bodies to be disturbed/seen by others!  Commonly, there is deep public resentment of those who would disturb the bodies of the dead.

For the Jew, having physical contact with a body had religious significance.  Numbers 19:14-19 declared physical contact with a body or body part made the person unclean for 7 days.

Jesus’ accusation against the scribes and Pharisees was severe!  He noted a horrible deceptiveness.  To people they appeared to be the symbol of righteousness.  Yet, the truth was that their seeming dedication to righteousness was only an outward symbol.  Outwardly, they appeared a beautiful monument to righteousness, but inwardly they were full of ungodliness—they were full of pretense and rebellion. 

Just like a beautiful tomb, they appeared to be desirable, but they were filled with corruption.  They were more concerned about people’s opinion than God’s opinion.  Human praise was superior to divine approval!  Even worse, perhaps they assumed people’s opinion was God’s opinion.

Jesus’ insight is frightening!  (1) Physical appearances never fool God!  (2) However, people must not be unsure about our importance!  We are #1 on our list for approval, and God often is not even on our list! 

Suggestion for reflection: Who do you do religious acts for—God or people?  (Read Galatians 6:3-8.)



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