Jul 30, 2018 1651
This is a beautiful tomb: the famous Taj Mahal.
Religious people have often been accused of being hypocrites. It’s not a new idea. It was an important theme in Jesus’ criticism of the religion of his day.
In ancient times, tombs lined the roads into every city. Tombs weren’t allowed inside city walls; only ever outside. Today they are just ruins, but in ancient times they were beautiful. The families took great pride in making sure that their tombs were always kept looking good.
On a sunny day, the whitewashed tombs around Jerusalem looked beautiful. But everyone knew what was inside.
Jesus was referring to these tombs when he said,
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
There are Christians and their communities that appear beautiful on the outside. They draw people in, but while the outside is beautiful, all there is inside is corruption and death. Some of this gets exposed over time, like the shocking revelations of the sexual abuse of children by religious institutions. But much of it always remain hidden, except to the eyes of God.
Jesus was concerned not just for the hypocritical religious people who were like these beautiful tombs, but also for the people who were deceived into joining them. When God’s representatives failed to properly represent what God is like, they turn others against God as well. Unfortunately, many people today have turned away from God, because when they have looked at professed Christians, they haven’t seen anything there to love.
It’s easy to be beautiful on the outside, but Jesus calls you to be beautiful within.
It’s easy to be beautiful on the outside, but as followers of Jesus, how can we be beautiful on the inside as well? How can we actually be righteous, instead of just appearing righteous?
We do it by not being like tombs. Tombs have death inside, but we need to have true Life inside. We need to be filled with the presence of Jesus. To enjoy the presence of Jesus, you must first acknowledge the corruption that lives within you. And then you must accept that your only hope is in Jesus. Charles Spurgeon said, “The law is for the self-righteous, to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost, to remove their despair.”
When you accept the Gospel that Jesus has taken away the guilt of your sin through his blood, and that now you are totally accepted by God, he sends the Holy Spirit into your life. And in his time, and in his way, unforced by you, the Spirit of God will transform you from the inside out.
Don’t be just a beautiful tomb. Make it your goal today to reflect the love and the grace of God to those around you, not just as a whitewash, but because it springs from deep inside your heart of gratitude. Do it humbly, so that no hypocrisy may be found in you.
– Eliezer Gonzalez