Summary: Ever wonder what it would be like to meet Jesus in person? The Pharasees did and it was an uncomfortable experience to say the least!
How to Lose Friends and Inflame Enemies
Series: One on One With the Master
February 28, 2010
Let me ask you a question. What do you think is the greatest threat to the church today? Persecution? Atheism? Materialism? No… Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy has done more to turn people away from God than all of those ‘isms’ put together! According to the dictionary, “Hypocrisy”, is “the act of playing a part; feigning to be what you’re not, or pretending to believe what you don’t believe; it’s a false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.” Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another. It’s telling your kids, “Do as I say, not as I do!”. Hypocrites live a double life… and they talk a double talk. Their unspoken rule is: “How things look is more important than what’s real”. Instead of getting their approval from God, a hypocrite gets their approval from how things appear to be with God. And so they work real hard at making things look gooooood.
It’s like the stressed-out woman who was tailgating someone on a busy street. As the light turned yellow just in front of him, he did the right thing and stopped at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light and accelerated through the intersection. The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection with him. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.
The officer ordered her to exit her car, cuffed her and took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted,
photographed, and placed in a cell. After a couple of hours, she was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects. He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. See, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping the guy off in front of you, and cussing a blue streak. Then, I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do" bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper sticker and the chrome-plated’ fish emblem’ on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you’d stolen the car."
Now, all of us fail to live up to who we say we are at one time or another… but it’s the failure to admit we failed, and then trying to cover it up, that makes me a true hypocrite. Because hypocrisy has the ability to destroy the integrity of the church more than any other thing, Jesus reserved His harshest words it. Now, the ‘poster boys’ for hypocrisy in Jesus’ day were the religious leaders of Israel. The main resistance to Christ’s ministry didn’t come from the criminal underworld, or secular Romans, it didn’t come from societies outcasts (tax-collectors, lowlifes, prostitutes, thieves)… no it came from the most self-righteous, sanctimonious, religious people in Israel… the legalistic Sadducees (and the even more strict) Pharisees!
These two groups proved over and over that they cared a lot more about their customs and their religious traditions than they cared about men…or even God! In the passage we’re going to look at this morning, Jesus calls them ‘hypocrite’ no less than 8 different times! That’s because every time they show up, they’re obsessed with keeping up appearances and holding onto their power. From the day Jesus started his public ministry until the day he was crucified, He waged a very aggressive, public battle with these two groups. In fact, the main reason they conspired to crucify him was because of their disagreements.
Now as we move towards the end of Jesus’ ministry in Mt.23, their attacks and confrontations get even more abusive and critical. Luke 20:20 tells us that... “Watching for their opportunity, the leaders sent secret agents pretending to be honest men. They tried to get Jesus to say something that could be reported to the Roman governor so he would arrest Jesus.” In otherwords, everywhere Jesus went, 24/7… these guys were watching Him, spying on him, testing him & challenging him. And Jesus never backed down from them. Thank you Jesus!
Mt. 23 is the record of 1 sermon. It’s the last public sermon Jesus ever preached. It’s Wednesday of His final week on earth. Vs. 1 tells us that he delivered His message “to the crowds and to his disciples”, but you can bet that the members of both religious parties were there too, mixing in with the crowds, trying to act like sympathetic followers…
Jesus wasn’t stupid… He knew it! And so He delivers a message NOT about salvation, or heaven… but a message against hypocrisy! He had just cleansed the temple for the 2nd time… and as a result the Pharisees, the chief priests and leading Sadducees… hated him all the more! After driving the money changers out of the temple… he moves out into the temple grounds and makes it his classroom. In fact, most of Mt.21-25, Mark11-13, Luke 19-21 and John 12 record what he taught, and the things that happened during that week.