Matthew 23:27-33

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?” Matthew 23:27-33

Like I said earlier in the week, the scribes and Pharisees are getting a serious tongue lashing from Jesus. This isn’t “a side of Jesus we rarely see”, this is Jesus saying this stuff! Can’t you feel the passion, the energy, the soul in this rant? And are you able to let his words land on you rather than pointing fingers at someone else?

The scribes and Pharisees live in the same world as we do. They, like us, experience a world that loves us from the outside in. As long as we look good and act good and have the right stuff, and the right stuff, we think we’re loveable. And, by and large, the world responds to us in that way.

But God is the same God as God has always been, and God loves us from the inside out. Paul would later write that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing that we can say, do, dress like, or act like, can separate us from the love of God.

This is doubly challenging.

First, it reminds us that God knows all there is to know about us and loves us anyway. God knows us better than we know ourselves, and loves us anyway. There are no dark corners or secrets or resentments directed from God to us. God loves us anyway. This is so hard for us to grasp. It is so otherworldly.

Second, knowing that we are so loved makes it even harder to be content in our brokenness. Why do we protect the “bones of the dead…the filthiness…the hypocrisy and lawlessness” inside of us that causes us so many problems?

A famous quote from Nelson Mandela comes to mind as I reflect on the pointlessness of living with our brokenness or focusing on how we look rather than how we are:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The key here is letting the light of God within us shine – not seeking the temporary fix of spotlights and pretending to be who we’re not.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, let your light shine within us, exposing that which needs to be healed within and that which reflects your love out to the world. Love us from the inside out that we might see your glory reflected in everyone. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


One Response to “Matthew 23:27-33”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    This brings to mind the old gospel song: “This Little Light of Mine”
    which I will share with you today.

    This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
    Every day, every day, every day, every way
    Gonna let my little light shine
    Light that shines is the light of love
    Hides the darkness from above
    Shines on me and it shines on you
    Shows you what the power of love can do
    Shine my light both bright and clear
    Shine my light both far and near
    In every dark corner that I find
    Let my little light shine
    Let it shine, let it shine.

    Monday gave me the gift of love
    Tuesday peace came from above
    Wednesday told me to have more faith
    Thursday gave me a little more grace
    Friday told me to watch and pray
    Saturday told me just what to say
    Sunday gave me the power divine
    To let my little light shine

    This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
    Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

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