Theme: THE DANGER OF HYPOCRISY
Text: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” – Matthew 23:27.
Comment: The Online Etymology Dictionary notes that “sepulchre” means a grave, tomb, a place where the dead is buried. In ancient times, honouring the dead involved using a whitewash on the tomb to give it a face-lift while inside it contained bones and rottenness. It is this description that the Lord Jesus Christ employed in dismissing the Pharisees and the scribes for their treacherous nature.
As an idiom, a whited sepulchre is an “evil person who feigns goodness”, a hypocrite or a person who is inwardly evil and deadly but outwardly professes to be virtuous. Christ censured the leaders of the Jews for their hypocrisy and presented concrete proofs: They said long prayers for widows whereas their interest was how to grab as much as possible of their possessions; (Matthew 23:14); while they emphasized tithing even of herbs such as mint and anise and cummin, they failed to stress observance of “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith”; moreover, they made “clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess”, (Matthew 23:23-26); Also, whereas they condemned the action of those who murdered the prophets, yet they would do as their fathers did by killing and crucifying “the wise men, prophets and scribes” God would send to teach them righteousness. (Matthew 23:29-35)
As sincere believers in God, our ways should be plain (Proverbs 15:19) and our conscience void of offence towards God and men – Acts 24:16.