About ten years ago, Pam and I were coming up the driveway toward our house when we noticed a large tree, about three feet in diameter, leaning toward the driveway. I got out of the car and walked up for a closer look. This large red oak was completely broken off three feet above the ground but it hadn’t fallen as it was hung up in the top of another tree. While this oak looked healthy from a distance, it was diseased and rotten inside, with only a few inches of healthy tree on the outside. That tree got me thinking about things that look healthy but are quite the opposite. Today, let’s take a moment to listen to the words Jesus as he described-- this very condition, in men rather than a tree:
"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity. (Matthew 23:27)
Two groups were always making trouble for Jesus: the Scribes and the Pharisees. They were the religious leaders in the community and everyone looked up to them. They were the “experts” when it came to religion and knowing who to trust. These leaders didn’t like Jesus for several reasons. First, He didn’t seem to fit into the way they thought a Messiah ought to act. Second, He was messing up their whole deal, calling attention to their faults. And finally, if Jesus was not the Messiah, then He was a heretic, falsely making Himself equal to God. In today’s passage Jesus gives them a stinging rebuke, saying they were “like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones.” Like my big oak, they looked great on the outside but they were rotten on the inside. One thing I find really interesting about these guys, is that they actually believed their own hype. I don’t think they knew they were rotten on the inside—I think they really believed they were doing great. You and I live in a world filled with people like this. They are beautiful, successful, doing their jobs. On the outside they look great, but on the inside they are rotting and needing Jesus—they just don’t know it. They're not our enemies, God wants to touch the lives of these people, too.
Today, ask God to help you see more clearly who the people are in your own life who need Him but just don’t know it. Then, ask Him to help you share the Good News of Jesus with them!