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25th November 2022

White Washed Tombs

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law:

justice and mercy and faith.

Matthew 23:23

As I study the life of the Lord Jesus, one fact consistently surprises me: the group that made the most trouble for the Lord was one that He outwardly resembled. Jesus obeyed the Mosaic Law and quoted leading Pharisees (Mark 9:11-12; 12:28-34). Yet He singled out the Pharisees for His strongest attacks. He called them serpents, a brood of vipers, fools, and hypocrites (Matt. 23:13-33).

What provoked such words? The Pharisees devoted their lives to following God, gave away an exact tithe (v 23), obeyed every law in the Torah, and sent out missionaries to gain new converts (v 15). Against the relativists and secularists of the first century, they held firm to traditional values.

In spite of this, the Lord's fierce denunciations of the Pharisees show how seriously He viewed the toxic threat of legalism. Its dangers are elusive, slippery, hard to pin down. I believe these dangers remain a great threat still today.

Jesus condemned the emphasis on externals: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. ” (v 25). Expressions of love for God had become ways to impress others.

The proof of spiritual maturity is not how “pure” you are, but your awareness of your impurity. That very awareness opens the door to God’s grace.


Matthew 23:1-15.


My Lord and God, help me to walk each day with you and to avoid hypocrisy. In Christ's name I prayer. Amen.



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