Luke 11 verse 37: “When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table.” The Lord Jesus was the guest of honour at a meal given by a man who was a Pharisee. It seems that it was a very public occasion with others gathered to listen to what He had to say.
Yet, verse 38, before the meal Jesus didn’t wash His hands - and deliberately so. According to their traditions this made Him ritually unclean before God. And they were surprised at this.
Yet, Jesus then uses their surprise to expose them. He declares six woes against those religious leaders. At the heart of each of these woes was their religious hypocrisy and pride. It showed that they never truly knew God… And even worse, Jesus says that such is their hypocrisy that they were actually like unmarked graves full of dead bones that people unwittingly walked over and became unclean.
And so dinner finishes… The religious leaders are mad at Jesus. They were “lying in wait for him, in order to catch him in something he might say.”
And so that is the situation in which we come into today - only here, you notice in verse 1 that Jesus is now speaking to His disciples.
Question: If Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour, then how am I to live?
1. True discipleship is not compatible with hypocrisy because God will judge all things, including every double standard (v.1-3).
"Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Yeast causes dough to grow and rise – even though you only add a little pinch… so it is with the ugly sin of hypocrisy.
Jesus goes on in verse 2 and says;
2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
When the Risen Lord Jesus spoke to the Church at Thyatira in Revelation chapter 2, it says He came to them as “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire (2:18)… And He says to the church, “I am he who searches mind and heart.” The hidden things He knows - even mind and heart. Nothing is hidden from Him, His eyes burn like fire and every single part of me is laid bare before Him.
Every thought, every motivation, everything said, everything we allow our minds to linger at… Any hypocrisy at all, will be exposed… It is a condemning thought and our Lord means it here as a warning. We may think we can get away with things – but the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of truth where righteousness reigns- hypocrisy has no place in it. If I profess to be a Christian, then I must examine myself honestly and ask for forgiveness of my sin and seek to weed out any hypocrisy.
2. Fearing God and remembering who He is helps keep us strong (v.4-7).
He says, verse 4;
4 "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
The argument is so clear: if God shows care for a sparrow that He has made - and if He knows the number of hairs on your head - then will He not then care for you?
• Notice it begins with the mind – I must talk to myself and remind myself that God is to be feared/reverenced and that He also cares for me. This helps weak Christians to be strong…
Thomas Cranmer was a very cautious sort of person - bookish perhaps. Increasingly he came to believe in justification by faith as taught by the Scriptures. He also found himself in serious trouble when Mary I came to the throne in England. Cranmer was imprisoned and at first they tried to degrade him – they made him wear rags and treated him poorly…. But it didn’t break him… He continued to affirm the truth of the Bible on salvation and the nature of the church... Seeing that they were getting nowhere and that he wasn’t going to recant, they tried the opposite strategy. They gave him luxurious food and promised to restore him to his former glory if only he would recant…. He eventually did. He signed a statement saying,
I, Thomas Cranmer, late archbishop of Canterbury, do renounce, abhor, and detest all manner of heresies and errors… I acknowledge the Bishop of Rome to be supreme head on earth… Christ’s vicar, unto whom all Christian people ought to be subject…
However, the Queen was not satisfied, and so she nonetheless sentenced Cranmer to death by burning at the stake. He was allowed to give one final speech on the day of his execution. He began by praying and spoke of loving one another and helping the poor. He then renounced all the recantations that he had signed and said that the hand that had written and signed those recantations would be the first part of him to burn. He was pulled from the pulpit and taken to the stake. He knelt on the ground and prayed, then clasped the hands of some of his friends, before he was burned. His final words apparently were, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit... I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."
Now that is an extreme example. Yet it shows that when we remember that God is both our ultimate judge and the One who cares for us that we are strengthened as disciples. When we have a right fear of God that will lead to a stronger confession before men.
Now lastly, we are to;
3. Confess Christ Jesus even before a hostile world (v.8-12)
Verse 8, this is very clear and simple to understand;
8 "I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9 But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. We may face ridicule, mockery, contempt, be misunderstood, but our course – our path – is perfectly clear. Christ Jesus is to be confessed…
Then verse 10; 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. If I willfully and persistently and deliberately reject the Holy Spirit as He witnesses about Christ Jesus and the gospel, then I will not be forgiven. It is to reject the truth - He is called the Spirit of truth (John 15:26)… The Pharisees showed what this kind of rejection looked like - they rejected the Spirit’s witness about Christ and refused to humble themselves before God.
But in contrast, there is a promise in verse 11-12;
11 "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."
“Do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." God strengthens His people- He strengthened Moses when he said that he didn’t know what to say to Pharaoh, He strengthened Ezekiel – He said that He would make his forehead as hard as flint – He strengthened Peter and the disciples to testify to Him – He strengthened Cranmer…. The Lord Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will be with His people in times of trouble.
Do you see how Jesus is giving us an eternal view for our lives today? He is bringing into our focus not the immediate situation before us that we find ourselves in, but that eternal vision...
• May hypocrisy have no place in our lives. Cut it out, like a deadly disease.
• May we trust Him and take hold of Christ – take hold of Christ – and may we confess Him, knowing His great care for us.