When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
“Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”
One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
“Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.
Here we go.
If you’re a pastor or a leader within your congregation this passage smarts. If it doesn’t you haven’t really understood it. This passage is directed right to us.
Jesus goes in on the Pharisees and experts in the law.
He calls out lack of love.
He calls out hypocrisy.
He calls out greed.
He calls out wickedness.
He calls out lack of a pursuit of justice.
He calls out lack of mercy.
He calls out complicity.
Those of us who are leaders in the church need to hear Jesus words and do them.
Are we men and women of integrity? Are we pursuing the things of God?
I look around and so many of us concerned about our salaries and benefits. We stress out about building larger and bigger sanctuaries. There is a desire to build the biggest congregation and have the most influence.
The crass materialism that has impacted so many of us is overwhelming at times.
Woe to us because we, “are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”
So many of us are dead inside.
We care more about the procedure of a meeting than we do about the souls of those we have been entrusted with. We are more worried about making sure meeting minutes are in good order than we do about the hearts and souls of those to whom we minister.
Too many sermons are recipes of dos and don’ts. Laying down graceless law-centered burdens on people.
Our lives are lacking in love because we have neglected our own souls.
Are we doing the work necessary to pursue life? Are we chasing down Jesus and following in his footsteps? Have we really embraced grace, mercy, and love because we know we desperately need it?
Or are we worried about someone washing their hands before they eat?