The People Know Appearances ( by Carley Evans )

When the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles is approaching, Jesus’ brothers — who do not believe He is the Messiah — encourage their brother to go to Judea “so [His] disciples can see [His] works that [He] is doing.” They say to Jesus, “For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” (John 7:3-4, HCSB)

Jesus is not seeking public recognition. He stays in Galilee for awhile longer, then goes to Judea “not openly but secretly.” (John 7:10) The Jews are hunting Him; and the people are discussing Him among themselves, quietly out of fear.

When the festival is half over, Jesus goes into the temple complex to publicly teach. The Jews are bewildered and amazed at His knowledge of scriptures “since He hasn’t been trained.” (John 7:15) Jesus openly responds that His teaching “is from the One who sent Me.” (John 7:16) He says He is not speaking for Himself, but for His Father. “The one who speaks for himself seeks his own glory.” (John 7:18) “Stop judging according to outward appearances.” (John 7:24)

The people wonder if Jesus is the Messiah, but continue to do what He tells them not to do. They judge by outward appearances. They say, “But we know where this man is from. When the Messiah comes, nobody will know where He is from.” (John 7:27)

On the last day of the festival, Jesus stands and cries out to the crowd, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” (John 7:37-38) Some in the crowd recognize the Messiah while others continue to judge by outward appearances. No, they say, “Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does He? Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David once lived?” (John 7:41-42)

The temple police are charged by the Pharisees to arrest Jesus, but are intimidated by His authority. “No man ever spoke like this!” (John 7:46) The Pharisees threaten them, “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you? Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” (John 7:52)

Father God, help us not to judge by outward appearances which are often misleading, even false. Help us to see and accept truth even when it doesn’t match our expectations. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


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.

Like the Tax Collector ( by Carley Evans )

Jesus seems most disgusted by persons who “choose the best places for themselves.” (Luke 14:7, HCSB) These persons “recline at the best place” at a wedding (Luke 14:8), “love the front seat in the synagogues” (Luke 11:43), and pray, “God, I thank You that I’m not like other people — greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.” (Luke 18:11-12) They invite only friends and relatives and rich neighbors to lunch “because they may invite [them] back” so they are repaid. (Luke 14:12)

Jesus knows these people who seek to be first — “to be exalted” — are to “be humbled, and the ones who humble themselves are to be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

The person justified before God, per Jesus, is the tax collector — the man who stands far off, “does not even raise his eyes to heaven but keeps striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me — a sinner!’ I tell you, this one goes down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14)

Lord, thank You so much for Your willingness to sacrifice Yourself for me, a sinner now saved by Your grace.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Be Perfect ( by Carley Evans )

Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, HCSB)

He starts by acknowledging that the Law of Moses calls for ‘tit for tat’ — or “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Matthew 5:38). If someone strikes you, strike him back. If someone sues you, resist him in court. If someone steals from you, demand reparation. If your enemy hates you, hate him back.

But, Jesus turns the Law upside down.

He commands, “Do not resist an evildoer.” (Matthew 5:39)

I’ve read about our right to defend ourselves, how Jesus never means that we can’t take up the sword against our enemies — but I don’t see that here. I hear Jesus say, “Do not resist.” Under force? — submit; being sued?  — settle; hit? — turn the other cheek; robbed? — give.

Why? Here’s the kicker. Jesus reminds us that even “the Gentiles” — i.e. those who do not have the Law of Moses “love those who love [them].” (Matthew 5:46) That’s easy! Anyone can do that! Anyone can greet the one who greets him! But God, our heavenly Father, is perfect. “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

“Therefore,” says Jesus, “be perfect.”

Father God, help us to love our enemies — those we consider ‘unlovable’. Remind us that You love all people, and send Your goodness out to the entire world. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Woe to You! (by Carley Evans)

Jesus cries, “Woe to you Pharisees!”

Pharisees keep the outside sparkling clean while remaining filthy inside. Pharisees give exactly a tenth and no more. Pharisees walk in pride, always in the most prominent places. Pharisees are experts in the law, but “load people with burdens that are hard to carry.” (Luke 11:46, HCSB)

Jesus accuses, “You take away the key of knowledge! You don’t go in yourselves, and you hinder those who are going in.” (Luke 11:52)

To the crowd, Jesus gives warning: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known. Therefore, whatever you say in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you whisper in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:1-3)

Woe to the hypocrite.

Dearest Father God, forgive me for my hypocrisies. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Party Time (by Carley Evans)

Jesus speaks to the Pharisees and scribes on the subject of eating with sinners. The Pharisees are particularly critical of this practice by the Lord. Jesus tells them three stories related to rejoicing over repenting sinners — the first is about a man with 100 sheep who leaves the 99 in the open pasture to search out and reclaim the one who has strayed. The second story is about the woman who has 10 coins, loses 1 coin, stops worrying over the 9 she still has in her possession, and searches her house until she locates the lost coin. The third story is about the father with 2 sons; he loses 1 to the world. Thankfully, this son comes to his senses and returns home.

In each story, the man, the woman, and the father throw a party. The man who finds his sheep calls his neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me, because I’ve found my lost sheep!” (Luke 15:6, HCSB) The woman who locates her coin calls her women friends and neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me, because I’ve found the silver coin I lost!” (Luke 15:9) The father who regains his lost son calls his slaves together and commands them to “bring out the best robe,” a ring, and “the fattened calf” and “let’s celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” (Luke 15:22,23-24)

Jesus tells the Pharisees and scribes, “Why should I worry over the ‘righteous’? The ‘righteous’ have no need of Me. Instead, I rejoice with sinners who come to their senses. Don’t be like the son who stayed at his father’s side, bitter and resentful that his dad threw a party for his reclaimed son. Everything I have already belongs to you. And there’s plenty more partying to do.”