Modern Day Pharisees
Some of the most scathing words from the lips of our blessed Lord came in His condemnation of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a religious group that were very powerful among the Jews in the days of Jesus. They were the guardians of the scriptures and religious teachers of the day. They held powerful sway over the people. They were in constant conflict with Jesus. In Matthew 23 after dealing with these religious teachers all of His ministry Jesus pronounced upon them 7 woes. All of these woes have to do with their hypocrisy. He condemns them for preaching without practicing the Word of God. He exposes their meticulous concern for the minute details of religious observance while missing the weightier matters of the law. He reveals that their religious practices were solely for the purpose of impressing others. He looks deeply into their heart and exposes what is on the inside. He said to them in Matthew 23:27,28: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
As we listen to the words of Jesus we may inwardly say: “Wow, I’m glad I am not a Pharisee”. But are we? Words like: whitewashed tombs, dead men’s bones, and child of hell certainly don’t apply to me. Or do they? I believe that all of us can swerve into becoming modern day Pharisees unless we guard against it. We need to be sure that we are practicing what we preach. We must make sure that as we sing the words of the gospel our own personal lives reflect the music of the gospel. We also must evaluate what is more important. Jesus teaches things like: justice, mercy and faith were more important than tithing of your spices. What’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside is most important. We must also live our faith for an audience of One.
Preaching without practice, faith without works, and the external without the internal are all very possible for modern day Pharisees. Jesus calls us to walk a different road and follow Him.