Just for a change, I’ll start with the verses set for reading and meditation. On reading these verses listen to what Jesus is saying to the Pharisees and consider if the main point he raises (being a hypocrite) applies to any of today’s church leaders or teachers.
Luke 11:37-52 (NLT): ‘As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.
Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”
“Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.”
“Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! This is what God in his wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’
As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.
What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent (hinder) others from entering.” ‘
I’ve included all the verses to maintain the context – and, I think that these verses highlight another interesting point – Jesus was not always nice to everyone. He agrees with the expert in religious law that what He has just said, has caused insult; and what’s more, He then continues to judge and condemn the religious experts. Do you think that this is a side of Jesus, which most people tend not to think about?
Selwyn, in today’s discussion, continues to examine ‘the imbalance that characterises us when we look at what is happening in the life of others but give little or no consideration to what may be happening in our own life’.
He concludes by saying: “Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they never paused to search their own hearts. … The principle Jesus was enunciating is this: before you look at how others are developing, take a long look at yourself.”
Yet, we can’t see ourselves as God sees us – that’s why it so ‘easy’ to be a hypocrite! Going back to what I wrote earlier; we need to spend some (structured) time in God’s presence, and ask Him what He sees in our lives that needs urgent attention. There is indeed, a sense of urgency in doing this – an examination of our spiritual health – on a regular basis. Jesus words to the religious teachers were, ‘you don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves’; it is a life or death exercise – do you agree?