Reading: Luke 20:45-47
And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” [NASB1995®]
Perhaps we could think that the greatest danger to the Jews during the time when Jesus walked in this world was the Roman soldiers. Rome was a powerful empire, with super-efficient armies, that came to conquer great territories. But this warning of Jesus makes us look elsewhere.
Time and again, the Lord Jesus brings to light the hypocrisy of the religious caste: the scribes, priests, and Pharisees. Those who have turned faith in God into a business, a show. They have misrepresented the word of God with their traditions. They have created structures in which the important thing is not love but the positions of power and prestige that each one obtains. They love to be respected and admired, and so their lives are based purely on their appearance.
The ordinary people of the town admired these characters. They spent lots of time in the synagogues, “studying” the Law. They were super pure, washing their hands countless times. They used pure clothing. They spoke with great eloquence in their prayers, and showed their piety in public places.
But it was just that, appearance. That is why Jesus comes to call them bleached sepulchers. On the outside they shine with whiteness, but on the inside they are corrupted to the extreme, by greed, pride, and contempt for others.
They are so corrupted that their eyes are blinded. It is the Messiah of God who speaks to them, but they cannot recognize it.
That is the cause of Jesus’ very severe warning.
Beware of the hypocrites. Beware of those who appear to be of God but are not. The Lord said that we will know them by their fruits.
We must be the most wary of those who claim to be children of God, but whose lives demonstrate the opposite.
But I also read this warning from the other side, as someone who professes to be a child of God. How easy it is to fall into the trap of only caring about our appearance! How easy it is to act considering only what others think of us! May my concern be to live in God’s presence every day, pleasing Him, loving Him!
Falling victim of a false teacher is sad, but worse is becoming obsessed by purely outward appearances. Guard your heart; live for him.
MEDITATE: How can we identify false teachers? Knowing God’s Word, how do we keep our hearts from hypocrisy? We have to immerse them in the Gospel every day… God bless you!
Scripture quotation taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Translation By: Emily Stader