Jesus Calls You A Hypocrite

 
 
Summary

Jesus calls the scribes hypocrite for judging others unfairly and not judging themselves fairly

The scribes and Pharisees have left Jerusalem to follow Jesus. No, not to gain spiritual insight but rather to observe him for the purpose of gathering information to be used against him. Why? They are jealous of his popularity! He is stealing their thunder, and eventually they will lose their status with Roman as the spiritual leaders and police of the Jewish people because Jesus is turning the Jewish nation, “Upside Down.”
The scribes and Pharisees observing some of Jesus’ disciples eat with un-washed hands could not hold their peace. This was exactly what they were looking for, something to criticize, and to judge as wrongdoing. For they often wash their hands, obeying the tradition of the elders. But they fail to obey the written Torah, the old time religions given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai.
To get a feel for what is going on in the text, let’s move away from the text, and go behind it to take a look at the beliefs and practices of Jews in first century Palestine. The Jews of first century Palestine not only had a Bible written on strolls, but a Bible memorize in their heads, the oral Bible. This is the Bible that the Jews in this text call the tradition of the fathers, which was pass on from generation to generation through word of mouth.

Now the Jews in first century Palestine, as well as Rabbinic Jews today, believe that the oral law, tradition of the elders, was given to Moses at the same time that God gave Moses the written law on Mount Sinai. And so when the scribes and Pharisee see some of Jesus disciples eat with un-wash hands they are deeply offended. In their minds the disciples of Jesus are breaking the oral law, which for them is more important than the Written law given to Moses.
The scribes and Pharisees would never eat without washing their hands. And neither would they eat after leaving the market place without washing their hands from the fingertips up to the elbows. Not unlike us, they washed everything. They washed their cups, pots, tables, and beds. There was nothing wrong with them doing so. What was wrong was lifting up the oral Torah, written by their elder fathers, and forgetting that OLD TIME RELIGION, written by God, and given to Moses on the mountain of Sinai.

The scribes and Pharisees observe the disciples of Jesus eat with un-wash hands, approach him saying: “why do your disciples not walk the path of the tradition of the elders, eating bread with un-wash hands?” I tell you these scribes and Pharisees are mean-spirited. They think they are the only ones who know God and what God expects from God’s people.

The scribes have been on the scene since the time of Ezra. They wrote down the law, interpret the law, taught the law, and were the protectors of the law. They taught the law in the synagogues, schools, homes, market places and other gatherings. They also did the recording of transactions, legal documents, and sales in the city, field, home, temple, and synagogue, other gatherings.

The scribes and Pharisees observe the disciples of Jesus eat with un-wash hands, approach him saying: “why do your disciples not walk the path of the tradition of the elders, eating bread with un-wash hands?” Jesus’ response to the question raises by these religious leaders shock us. He calls them hypocrites! Listen: “You bunch of hypocrites! Isaiah the prophet describe you very well when he said, ‘with their lips, this people speak words that honor me, but their heart is far from me. Their worship of me is a joke, for they worship me, teaching the doctrine of men. They lay down the commandments of God, and lift up the commands of men, teaching such things as the washing of pots and cups; and many other man-made rules such as this they do teach.

Have you ever seen a hypocrite? Jesus names hypocrites those who judge others for doing nothing while they do something. What about those who talk nonstop about what teenagers wear, and how terrible they look with pierce ears and dyed hair, while they cheat on their spouses and the church, refusing to tithe even two- percent of their earning.

Re-entering the text, we listen from a distance, as Jesus continues to speak to the scribes and Pharisees saying: You deliberately reject the commandments of God, so that you may keep your own tradition. Let me give you an example of how you reject God’s commandments to follow the tradition of your forefathers. Moses gave you the law that God gave him to give you, saying: “Honor your father and your mother. Whoever curses, speaking evil, of their father or mother must die. (Exodus 21:17)
But you don’t agree with God, you say, “If a persons says to his father and mother, ‘Whatever financial assistance you might receive from me I cannot give to you because it is Corban, a gift that I have offered to God,’ that person is free from the obligation to give food and clothing to his parents. This you do, and in so doing null and void the word of God, to practice the tradition of men. And not only do you break this law, there are many other laws of God that you break to practice the laws of men.

It’s had to believe that these religious leaders would break the law of God to obey the law of men, following the tradition of their elderly fathers. But let’s take a minutes and do some reflection. What laws of God do we break to obey the laws pass on to us by our parents and grand-parents; that were pass on to them by their parents and grandparents. Well, what about this tradition of the elders teaching, “cleanliness is next to godliness?

Wait a minute preacher, wait a minute preacher! Oh, no: It’s LuLu, shouting through the window again. Wait a minute, preacher. I know for myself, that there is nothing worse than a dirty man. I live with a man that smell of smoke for thirty years. He always had an odor. Last year, I divorce him because I could no longer smell the odor of tobacco.
Well, I know you’re listening to hear what I am going to say to Lulu. I just want to say one thing to LuLu. “Woman, the man you married was smoking when your married him.”
Most of us, have heard these words, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” And some of us have even experienced a “cleanliness is next to godliness” teaching. The “cleanliness is next to godliness,” teaching was introduce to the American culture by a rabbi, and has become a household saying. The phrase, “cleanliness is next to godliness,” is not in the Bible; but even John Wesley is known for being an advocate of the teaching, preaching a “cleanliness in next to godliness” sermon in the 1700’s. Some even, mistakenly credit him as the author of the man-made law. But, “cleanliness is not next to godliness.” A clean body and house will not get one whose heart is not clean next to God.
Now, this is not to say that the “cleanliness is next to godliness,” teaching should not be embrace; but at the same time I am saying that this teaching does not have the same authority over us as the word of God.

If someone enters this morning un-wash with a strong musty odor, that person should not be understood as a sinner because the person smells. The stinky person could be an angel, or a devoted Christian who fell on hard times.

And even if the stinky person is a sinner, we cannot proclaim that “cleanliness is next to godliness,” because this is not the word of God. If we do label stinky persons ungodliness, while at the same time, naming persons with good hygiene_ godly, than we are judging someone a sinner just because they smell; obeying the tradition of the elders.
And when we judge one a sinner who comes to worship with us because he or she smells, God calls our worship a waste of time. Why, because we begin to teach man-made laws, failing to lift up the law of that OLD TIME RELGION, the law of Moses; the written Torah, authored by God.

I still find this Markan text hard to hear. It is almost unconceivable, to imagine the religious leaders teaching the people how to break the law of God, given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The written law, Torah, says: “Honor your Father and your mother.” Honoring your father and mother is to honor them not only in word but also in deed. Honoring your father and mother is to honor them with food and clothing, shelter and presence. This is what God requires on behalf of mother and father. This law to honor mother and father is called the written Torah.
Jesus rightly accuses the scribes and Pharisees of teaching the people to forget God’s written law, Torah; to obey the law of men, the tradition of the elders. And what makes this teaching of the scribes and Pharisees so evil is that it is a false claim.

You see one could say to his parents in their time of need, “the sheep that I would give to you for food, I cannot give to you, because it is Corban.” And then, instead of sacrificing the sheep or selling it and giving the money to God, they would just keep it for other purposes.
Now once a man cried Corban, he was free from obeying the law of God, and was no longer obligated to honor his mother and father with resources needed for survival. And I can hear these rejected parents crying out with a loud voice:
“When the storms of life are ranging_ stand by me; when the world is tossing me, like a ship upon the sea; thou who rules wind and water stand by me.
And I hear rejected, forgotten parents, all over the world, crying: In the midst of tribulations; in the midst of faults and failures; in the midst of persecution, when I’m old and feeble_ Lord, stand by me.

Can anybody imagine why religious leaders would free children from the financial obligation of honoring their parents with what is needed for survival? And why would religious leaders teach the people to use the name of God, as a scapegoat, to keep from honoring their parents with food and clothing?
(sniffing :looking around) I smell a rat? Don’t you?

You see, many of the people did give to the church what should have been given to their parents. Why? The law of Moses required that one not only give God a tenth, but that one also honor one’s parents with whatever was needed for survival.

Now, if one was free from honoring one’s parents with the resources needed for survival; one would no longer have two laws to obey, but rather, one. Obeying the tradition of the elders, crying Corban, “what I have to give my parents I give as a gift to God,” was a home run for the temple. It ensured that the temple would get it’s money at the expense of parents, giving the children only one law to obey, the law of the tithe. The religious leaders didn’t love people, and they didn’t love God. In the words of Isaiah: “You honor God with your lips, but your heart is far from God.”

The scribes and Pharisee ask Jesus why his disciples ate with un-wash hands, disobeying the tradition of the elders; but they did not get an answer to their question. Instead of answering the “WHY” question, Jesus calls them hypocrites, and then tells them why they are what they are, “hypocrites.”

Jesus calls the crowd that follows him to come to him, and then he speaks to them saying: listen for understanding: “There is nothing that goes into your body that can make you unclean. What makes you unclean is what comes out of your mouth and your heart. Let those who have ears hear what I say.”

There is no one is the crowd with hearing ears of understanding, not even the disciples. They didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about, because he was speaking a parable when he spoke to the crowd. And so, when Jesus was alone with his disciples in a house, they asked him the meaning of the parable.

Jesus tells the meaning of the parable saying: “There is nothing that goes into your mouth that can make you unclean because what you eat does not enter your heart, but rather into your stomach. After it leaves your stomach it goes into the colon, and then it excretes from the body. It is that which come out of the body that makes anyone unclean, unholy. That which comes out of the mouth, comes out of the heart. Evil thoughts come out of the mouth, not the stomach. And so it is not what goes in the body that makes one unfit for God’s purpose, but what come out of one’s mouth.
He keeps on pushing the parable, opening the disciples understanding, saying: out of the heart come evil thoughts of lust, theft, murder, and adultery; wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, pride, and many other foolishness.

Those of us inside the church must be careful not be hypocrites. Don’t be like Lulu, who teaches Sunday school every Sunday, and claims she divorces her husband because he is an ungodly smoker. Well, guess where Lulu works, at the “Corinthian Abortion Clinic.”