Summary: Jesus pronounces woes upon the Pharisees and lawyers and warns us of the danger of spiritual hypocrisy.
Last week I started a two-part message about Jesus’ pronouncement of woes upon the Pharisees and lawyers. Last week we looked at the setting of Jesus’ rebuke and the statements of rebuke to the Pharisees. This week I would like to conclude the message by looking at Jesus’ statements of rebuke to the lawyers, as well as noticing their reaction to the rebuke.
37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”
45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say. (Luke 11:45-54)
Virginia college sophomore Danny Foley just wanted to be part of his school’s men’s basketball team – even if that meant faking his way onto the court. Danny noticed that all of his team’s assistant coaches wore the same suit with a bright orange tie. So before Virginia’s conference championship game against Duke on March 16, 2014, he and his friends went searching for some cheap knockoffs. He found everything he needed at Walmart – a suit jacket, suit pants, dress shoes, dress socks, a white dress shirt, and the orange tie.
The next morning, he bought $30 nosebleed tickets just to get in the door and headed to the game. During a TV timeout, Danny made a move, confidently marching past an usher and onto the court. Danny said, “I walked right behind the cheerleaders and onto the court and joined the [team’s] huddle on the court.”
Following his team’s big win, he went for an even bigger thrill. When the game’s final buzzer sounded with Virginia defeating Duke 72-63, Danny joined his “teammates” in the handshake line. As the confetti fell around him, Danny got to shake hands with “Coach K,” the legendary coach for Duke. Photos from the end of the game show Danny wearing a championship t-shirt over his suit and smiling in the middle of the confetti-covered arena.
After celebrating with coaches and players, a member of Virginia’s staff caught up with Danny, but he quickly climbed the railings and disappeared into the stands.
This story is about a relatively harmless college prank, but is it possible that we are attempting something much more harmful by faking our way as Christians? Have we just bought a suit and tie without really joining the team? Are we new creations in Christ, or are we the same person with just a new suit and new tie?