Jesus is the Son of Man
Beware the Hypocrisy
All right let’s turn in our Bibles to the very end of Luke chapter 20. If you do not have a Bible, if you are in need of a Bible, please see me after the service and we will work on getting one into your hands.
So, to sum up Luke chapter 20 is to say that the religious leaders have been challenging Jesus. They have been challenging his power, his authority and his influence.
Jesus has been rebuking them and correcting them each and every time. He has been doing so by bringing them back to a correct understanding of the Holy Scriptures.
And one of the things we are seeing in these religious leaders, one of the things that we see throughout the scriptures, is that head knowledge without heart application means nothing. That’s not to say that head knowledge means nothing. Knowledge is important. But without it changing the heart and without us applying it, it is nothing.
We are going to see a stark example of that here this morning.
Let’s go ahead and read Luke chapter 20 verse 45 through chapter 21 verse 4. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to grab your preferred translation and follow along in the text. IF you do not have a Bible, it will also be posted up on the screen.
Luke 20:45-21:4, The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record:
And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Jesus[a] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.[b] 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.
After this chapter worth of the scribes, pharisees, Sadducees and elders publicly attacking Jesus and him defending himself, he turns the tables on them. He makes a public example of them.
Hey guys, these guys how have been attacking me, beware of them, avoid them, they are a bunch of hypocrites.
He points out what is already pretty well known at this point. They desired to look good in the eyes of the people.
Jesus addresses this in a number of times and in a number of ways, especially in Matthew 6. Look first in verses 5 & 6:
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
These men are presenting themselves as pious and holy. They are presenting themselves as righteous and with a direct line to God. They are showing everyone that they are smarter than everyone and that they know better then everyone.
Their dress, their attitude, their behavior, all of it is shouting, Pay attention to Me! Respect Me! Show deference to Me! Look at me as I do all these good things. Look at me as I walk around, and other people see how good I am. Look at me and see how much I give. Look at me and see how holy my prayers are. Look at me!
Jesus says, Hypocrites!
Beware of them. DO not follow them. Do not listen to them.
Many of these criticisms, unfortunately, can be levied against men in my profession. Men who claim to have a calling and a passion for the LORD. Men who are living unholy lives, whether in public or in secret. Men who are in it for the money, the fame, the publicity, the prestige. Men who are swindlers, preying on the old and the poor and the desperate.
Do Not Follow Men Who Are Living Unholy Lives!
Now, this, of course, does not mean that you can only follow someone who is perfect and sinless. None of us are. Paul wasn’t, Timothy wasn’t, James, John and Peter weren’t. Billy Graham wasn’t. RC Sproul wasn’t. John MacArthur isn’t. Charles Stanley isn’t. Alistair Begg isn’t.
I certainly am not.
But we look to what scripture says and what are Pastors and elders supposed to be. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 3:
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,[c] not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise[d] must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.
This is what religious leaders are supposed to hold to. To fail in these areas is called a disqualifying sin.
Misuse and twisting of Gods Word. (That doesn’t not mean disagreeing with their teaching or interpretation)
Stealing or skimming money, misusing church funds.
Manipulating and abusing.
Out of control anger and abuse.
Exorbitant and lavish lifestyles.
Those who compromise Biblical truths in order to have more influence in the world, a bigger audience, better book sales, people to like them more.
These are things that Gods Word says make one unqualified to be a spiritual leader. Do Not Follow them that do these things.
By the way, do not do these things either. These codes of conduct are not only for pastors, elders and the like. They are for all believers. The problem is that these are all natural human temptations. That’s why Jesus says beware!
We would love to have someone in authority tell us that giving in to those temptations is ok. That they do it so we can to. We want someone to justify our sins, to say that they are not really sins, or that its perfectly natural.
We also naturally want to look our best in different scenarios and environments. Even if looking our best in that environment means lying about who we are or pretending we don’t do or believe certain things, pretending that wrong is right. OR, as the scribes described here, having the appearance of godliness, holiness, righteousness, morality, when it is only an outer façade.
Paul, again, describes the people that Jesus warns about. This time 2 Timothy 3:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Having the appearance of Godliness but denying its power.
Avoid such people.
These people will think they are winning, they are successfully tricking people into thinking they are who their façade shows. Jesus says here, they will receive their condemnation. James echoes this when he says:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness
Jesus is much, much more than an example for us. So much so that when people say that he is an example, I get very cautious. Many have said that in context like what we looked at last week. This definition of who He is, is all of who he is. So, when people say Jesus was an example for us, because some say that’s all He is an example, and some say that means we can do everything that He did, including the miracles, I get defensive.
But the fact is that Jesus is an example for us to follow. We should seek to model our lives after him. And when we look at Jesus calling out the scribes and their blatant hypocrisy and pride and showmanship, the contrast could not be any clearer.
One commentator says: How far this is from the example of Jesus Christ, who did not seek a place for himself, but set aside the glory he deserved to serve us to the very death.
This is straight from scripture. Paul writes in Philippians 2:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus is clear. Beware of being like these guys. Don’t be like these guys. Don’t follow these guys. Be better. Follow me. Be like me.
And then, as we move into Chapter 21, There just happens to be, luckily enough, coincidently, an example of the scribes, pharisees, Sadducees, the religious leaders manipulating and taking advantage of those under them.
Whew! Jesus sure was lucky that happened right at that time!
They were in one of the courts of the temple. That’s where all the teaching would take place. And in that court were the offering boxes. There were 13 of them and each one had written on it what the money gathered would be used for.
The rich, well off, the religious leaders, they made sure they were seen giving. Remember Jesus talked about them tithing on their mint and dill. They wanted to make sure they showed how successful and well off they were because it showed the other people that God was pleased with them. It also made them look good, showing how generous they were.
And Jesus directly contrasts their unholiness and outward piousness, with a poor widows sacrifice and faith. The word in the original language is extremely poor. This was much poorer than any one in this room. This was extreme poverty.
She was giving two copper coins, the lowest valued coins that existed. Our pennies are made from copper, this was their equivalent. Mark, as he told this story, remarked that together they would make 2 pennies.
She gave literally her last coins. She now had no money to buy food or anything. She sacrificed more than any of the hypocrites ever would. Her giving was worth more to God than theirs.
Now, we have all heard many sermons and teachings on this passage, and we are not going to get too deep into the normal aspect of it today. In addition to the truths that are usually taught, we see that this widow is being exploited by the religious leaders. The religious leaders were not fulling their duty as James 1 tells us, Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Jesus told us at the end of Luke 20 that they devoured widows’ houses. Commentators aren’t sure what exactly that refers to, many of them give a thought, but the point is clear. They are taking advantage of and exploiting those whom they are tasked with taking care of.
The widow, of course, had an obligation to give. That’s not in doubt or in question. She was to, as we all are, give in and with faith and to be a cheerful and sacrificial giver.
But the religious leaders had an obligation to make sure she wasn’t exploited, and she wasn’t guilted into giving her literally last penny. They were bleeding her dry so that she didn’t have any thing left to live on.
We see a financial and generosity example of this principle here: God does not compare our giving with what the person next to us is giving. He compares our giving to what we have and what we give. Just like he doesn’t compare our sins with the person next to us, or to the people who are (in our mind) much worse than us. He takes and looks at our sins by what we do and what we are called to do.
True faith in Christ means living a life of Christ. The Bible is clear what those principals and some of the specifics look like.
How are you treating the poorest among you? Again, James tells us to take care of the widows and orphans and to keep oneself unstained form the world. Paul tells us that our giving should be cheerful and sacrificial, how much or however little it may be. Live with humility and love. Ephesians 4 says to preach the truth, but also to preach it with love. Jesus tells us that they will know we are Christians by our love.
We are to strive for and live a life of holiness, avoiding hypocrisy. Not in order to gain favor with God or to avoid punishment from him. We can’t do either of those things. Not us, not on our own. Favor in Gods eyes and salvation from the wrath of God is from one way and from one source only. Its is solely by the grace of God alone who gives the faith, and it that faith alone in His Son, Jesus Christ alone that does it. And Gods love and Jesus’ sacrifice changes us.
The Holy Spirit changes our heart of stone to a heart of flesh, we are brought from death to Life. This is the fruit of the spirit being made evident in our lives. This is a lifestyle that flows from the Holy Spirit, fruit from a true, saving faith.
Hypocrites, those hypocrites Jesus points out, the hypocrites that are obvious today, even the ones that are not so obvious, like us unless we repent. They will receive their condemnation.
But Romans 8:1 tells us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus tells us, if you love me, keep my commandments. Trust in him, repent of your sins, and show your love for and faith in him by living a life modeled after him and obeying him.