Summary: You might be a “modern day Pharisee” if you work harder at looking good than being good
This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.
How long did it take you to get ready for church this morning? My guess is that for some of you, it didn’t take you long at all. You jumped out of bed at 9:00, took a quick shower, brushed your teeth, threw on some clothes, grabbed an Egg McMuffin and a cup of coffee in the McDonalds drive through and quietly squeezed into your seat about 9:35.
Others of you took much longer than that. Maybe you got up earlier, fixed a nice breakfast, read the Sunday paper, took a leisurely shower, brushed your teeth, got dressed, and then took a nice relaxing drive to church and got here by 9:15 and sat down and had a cup of coffee with some of the other early arrivers.
But regardless of which of those two descriptions is closer to your Sunday morning routine, so far I’ve only addressed all the external preparations you made for coming to church today. And frankly, whether it took you 30 minutes to get ready or 2 hours and 30 minutes, those physical preparations probably won’t have a significant impact on your ability to worship this morning.
But let me ask you another question. How long did it take you to prepare your spirit and your soul for worship this morning? Have you taken time this week to read the passage that I’ll be talking about in just a moment? Have you spent time this week praying for that message and for me and the worship team and our Hospitality Team and our children’s teachers? Have you taken time this week to consider last week’s message and taken some practical steps to apply it personally?
Frankly that’s a much more important question because those internal preparations, which nobody else will probably ever see, will impact your ability to worship this morning.
Today we will wrap up our current series – Modern Day Pharisees – in which we’ve been studying Jesus’ words to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew chapter 23. So far each week, I’ve started the message by sharing the six traits that might indicate that you are a “modern day Pharisee”, but this morning, we’ll wait and do that at the end as a review of the entire series. So let’s just jump right in with the sixth and final trait that we’ll be focusing on this morning:
You might be a “modern day Pharisee” if you
work harder at looking good than being good
[Read Matthew 23:25-28]
Before we talk about how we can apply this passage to our own lives. Let me give you a little background that will help us understand this passage better.
In the Old Testament Law there are a lot of complicated instructions about how a person was to remain ceremonially clean. And that was important because anyone who was not ceremonially clean was prohibited from entering the Temple or synagogue or otherwise engaging in worship. Under the at law, if anyone who was unclean touched a vessel, that vessel became unclean and anyone else who then touched that vessel also became unclean.
The purpose of those laws was to remind the Israelites that God was holy, but that because of their sin, they were not. The complicated laws regarding how to cleanse something or someone that had become unclean illustrated how thoroughly sin had corrupted their lives and how difficult it was to remove the effects of sin.
Not surprisingly, the Pharisees meticulously carried out the prescribed procedures for cleaning their plates and cups. But they had completely ignored the purpose behind those laws. So while their dinnerware may have been spotless on the outside, the food that was contained in those vessels may have been obtained by cheating or extortion or eaten in gluttony.
The second illustration in verse 27-28 has to do with whitewashing tombs and it also involved outward uncleanness. In the spring prior to Passover the roads in Palestine would be crowded with pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for the feast. Since coming into contact with a tomb would make one unclean and there were a lot of unmarked tombs all over the countryside, about a month before Passover, the Jews would whitewash all the tombs along the roads so that no one would accidentally come into contact with one and be rendered unclean and unable to participate in the Passover activities.