From The Inside Out

Scripture: Luke 11:37-44, NLT

37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table.
38 His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness!
40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?
41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces.
44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”

Introduction

The Pharisees were very devoted people. When it came to externals like tithing, giving alms, attending synagogue, practicing the traditional rituals like hand washing they were front and center and were admired by most people. There is a sharp contrast between a Pharisee and a Sadducee and not just in doctrine. The Sadducees were the upper class filthy rich Jews who were nominal believers in Yahweh. They accepted only the first five books of the bible [Torah] and they interpreted them in light of priestly tradition. The Pharisees accepted the law and the prophets and interpreted the law through Moses. During the time of the incarnation, Josephus estimated the total Pharisee population before the fall of the Temple to be around 6,000. The Pharisees were the middle class. The Sadducees were the elite ruling class and they were not so concerned with public opinion as were the Pharisees.
We know there were some good Pharisees: Paul, Nicodemus, Joseph and Gamaliel but you cannot find a good Sadducee: they were evil and corrupt. Where the Sadducees were invested heavily in politics, the Pharisees were focused on Judaism or religion. Somewhere along the way, the Pharisee’s lost their original focus and evolved into a very sectarian and legalistic group who had very little to no compassion on those they deemed beneath them.
To set tonight story: Jesus is invited into the home of a Pharisee and Jesus did not wash His hands before He ate {ceremonial hand washing}. The Pharisees were on that like ugly on an ape. I don’t know if anything was said, but Jesus knew their thoughts and He unloads of these religious frauds…“You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness!  Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?  So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
He pronounces three “woes” on the Pharisees and each is an indictment on a an inverted religious faith.

I. THE FIRST IS IN VERSE 42–WOE TO THOSE WHO MAJOR ON MINORS

“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
There are things, good things and then there are more important things. Some things are more important than others, would you not agree?  Our LCBS lesson dealt with this today. Life is about choosing between what matters most and what is optional. Some things have major significance and some minor. We would be wise to know which is which. The Pharisee’s were into the external things: rituals, ceremonies, alms, customs, traditions. They were obsessed with these things. The goal of Judaism should have been inward purity but the Pharisee’s neglected the inward and the spiritual. Jesus said they were fools full of greed and evil. Their religion wasn’t working: instead of becoming better, they were becoming more depraved by the day. Washing our hands in front of a group does nothing about the problem of the heart.
There is nothing wrong with tithing or doing alms but there are more important things such as loving God and treating your fellowman with kindness. The Pharisees were hung up on the externals, especially things you touch. You couldn’t touch anything related to death, a tomb or a corpse. They would not touch certain foods. They refused to touch certain people, those who were ritually unclean. They would not eat until they had washed their hands. They were more concerned about germs on the finger than sin in the heart. They were obsessed with performance not purity. They had it backward. They needed to be worrying about their hearts not their hands.

II. SECOND WOE, VERSE 43–WOE TO THOSE WHO LIVE FOR MAN’S APPROVAL WHO PUT REPUTATION BEFORE CHARACTER

“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces.
We live to please others when possible, but when there is a conflict between pleasing God and others, we must please God. When Peter and John were forbidden to speak any more in Jesus name, they said, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him?  We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
How much have things changed since Jesus ate with this Pharisee? Not much, we are still performers just like the Pharisees. We crave recognition just like they did and we love the point system because it makes us feel entitled, like we deserved this or that. Every denomination out there has an advantage over Baptist because we don’t have a point system. You can’t earn salvation, you cannot merit God’s forgiveness. The only way for you to relate to God is by grace or to each other. The only thing we deserves is death and hell. This kind of rhetoric does not play well in this world where everyone admires an achiever. 
The Pharisees had a point system and the person with the most points sat in the set of honor and from that point, they were ranked. This is contrary to everything Jesus taught. Matter of fact, He said, “Many that are first will be last.” At some point, we have to stop caring what others think and begin to focus on what God thinks. When we get to craving recognition and honor each other’s achievement, we becomes slaves to a point system that invariably produces pride. Pride leads to arrogance and contempt for others.

III. THIRD WOE V.44–WOE TO THOSE WHO ARE SELF-DECEIVED

Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”
Jesus told the Pharisees, You are like unmarked graves, you defile people without them or you realizing what you have done.” Jesus said, “You are like dead men’s graves.” You are the source of defilement. You defile others. Ironic, that the Pharisees avoided others who they deemed unclean and yet they were defiling others without even knowing what was going on. The Pharisees who prided themselves on doing good where actually doing harm by their bad example. The sad thing is: they were totally unaware of their guilt.
Jesus was hard on the Pharisees because they refused to acknowledge their sin. The sins of others grieved them but not their own sins. One sure way to know if you are a child of God is your attitude toward sin. If your sin does not grieve, bother or burden you, something is wrong.
This morning LIFE CHANGING BIBLE STUDY had a couple of brilliant illustrations. One was about the inverted funnel and the other about sand castles. How many of you have spent hours constructing a sand castle only to have one wave destroy it and it you went to the same spot the next day, you would find no evidence that a sand castle ever existed.
The Pharisees spent their entire life building sand castles. Surely, you do not want to waste your life on trivial pursuits.
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