“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 the bones of the dead 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.”

Matthew 23:27-28


Throughout his ministry, Jesus spoke out against evil. He spoke boldly into the lives of powerful and arrogant Pharisees and others, calling them hypocritical and self-righteous.

We might be asking: “Lord, how did you speak so boldly to them without apparent fear? When we accepted the call to follow you, is that what you expected from us as well?”

The Pharisees hated Jesus. They were jealous because of his popularity with the people. Jealous of his teachings.

The Pharisees had always been recognized as godly, honoured by the people. But now Jesus was exposing this as a pretense. Next to Jesus and his unmistakable goodness, their own lack of virtue had been exposed. They hated him for it and did everything they could to get rid of him.

Jesus had done nothing wrong. And yet, despite the good news he brought to the world, despite the great good he had done, despite his deep love, he was made to die in the worst possible way. The Pharisees crucified Jesus because they could not bear to be outdone by him. He was just too good.

These men were power hungry, proud and hypocritical. Although they made themselves appear godly, they were frauds, not living out what they taught. That’s what makes the pretense and deceit of hypocrisy so evil. Deception reminds me of the serpent in the Garden. Can there be anything more evil?

So what can we learn from this?

Perhaps this story will help us identify present-day Pharisees. They’re still around, though not always easy to recognize..

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)