Yeast of the Pharisee ( by Carley Evans )

Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself.  — Samuel Johnson

Jesus warns “against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1, NIV) Jesus says the Pharisees pretend to love God. He says they “take away the key to knowledge” (Luke 11:52) and “load people down with burdens they can hardly carry.” (Luke 11:46) Then, Jesus reminds,”What is said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what is whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” (Luke 12:3)

Jesus assures that “whoever acknowledges [Him] before men” — whether publicly or privately — “the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns [Jesus] before men” — whether privately or publicly — “will be disowned before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8-9)

Jesus tells we who are Christians not to worry about “what [we] will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach [us] at that time what [we] should say.” (Luke 12:11-12) That time may be public or private, during accusation or conversation.

Hypocrisy is not failing to practice our beliefs; it is pretending to believe.

Heavenly Father, help us to acknowledge Jesus Christ always as Lord and Savior, Healer and Coming King. In Your Son’s Name, amen.


If You Knew, You Wouldn’t ( by Carley Evans )

Simon, who is a Pharisee, invites Jesus to dinner;  yes — Jesus accepts the invitation. “A woman in the town who is a sinner finds out that Jesus is reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brings an alabaster jar of fragrant oil and stands behind Him at His feet, weeping, and begins to wash His feet with her tears. She wipes His feet with the hair of her head, kissing them and anointing them with the fragrant oil.” (Luke 7:37-38, HCSB)

Needless to say, the Pharisee is appalled. He thinks if Jesus is truly a prophet, He’d know who and what this woman “is who is touching Him — she’s a sinner!” (Luke 7:39)

Jesus knows Simon’s thinking. As a matter of fact, Jesus knows the thinking of any one who is appalled by acceptance, tolerance, understanding, compassion. We say, “Oh, it’s not the sinner I hate; it’s the sin!” I’m certain Simon feels the same way here. After all, this woman is touching Jesus! Her filth is infectious! We must fight the sin!

But Jesus does not see as we do. Jesus sees that her debt — in its greatness and its immense weight — has given her a greater capacity for love. “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins are forgiven; that’s why she loves much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)

The more we are aware of our own sin, the less we see the sins of others. The more we are forgiven, the more gratitude we carry in our heart. Let us be compassionate above all, for love covers the multitude of sin. Amen.

Blessed If Not Offended

Herod is excited. Pilate is sending Jesus to him because Jesus is a Galilean and therefore under Herod’s jurisdiction. To make matters even easier, it happens that Herod is in Jerusalem “in those days.” (Luke 23:7, HCSB) Herod is anticipating a thrilling encounter, having heard a lot about Jesus. Above everything else, Herod wants to see a miracle!

When Jesus is brought before him, Herod asks Him many questions; but Jesus does not answer any of them. At the same time, somewhat on the sidelines, the chief priests and scribes are taunting Jesus. You can almost hear them as they spit out vehement accusations.

Eventually, Herod realizes Jesus is not going to perform a miracle. Likely frustrated and angry, Herod — in conjunction with his soldiers — treats Jesus with contempt. Herod mocks Jesus, and has Him dressed in a colorful robe. Disappointed in the proceedings, Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate.

Jesus says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you do not believe.” (John 4:48) And the Son of God prays, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You hide these things from the wise and learned and reveal them to infants. Yes, because this is Your good pleasure.” (Matthew 11:25-26) Jesus speaks to the crowds about John the Baptist, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces.” (Matthew 11:7-8) “If anyone is not offended by Me, he is blessed.” (Matthew 11:6)

Father God, keep us from needing to see signs and miracles in order to believe. Help us to trust the ordinary events of our days as within Your sovereign will. Help us to know the real person of Jesus Christ, crucified, resurrected, and glorified. In Jesus’ Name, amen.