Last week Jesus confronted the Pharisees with their hypocrisy. As He approaches His death in Jerusalem, Jesus is concerned that His disciples may fall prey to the same type of hypocrisy. Therefore, He urgently warns them to “be on their guard” against two potential traps that have ensnared the Pharisees – hypocrisy and greed.
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Section 108a | Warning the Disciples about Hypocrisy
1 Meanwhile, when a multitude of many thousands had gathered together, so much so that they trampled on each other, he began to tell his disciples first of all, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees,1 which is hypocrisy.2 2 But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed,3 nor hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light. What you have spoken in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. 4 “I tell you, my friends,4 don’t be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.5 5 But I will warn you whom you should fear. Fear him6 who after he has killed, has power to cast into Gehenna.7 Yes, I tell you, fear him.8 6 “Aren’t five sparrows sold for two assaria coins?9 Not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all counted. Therefore don’t be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows. 8 “I tell you, everyone who confesses me before men, the Son of Man will also confess before the angels of God; 9 but he who denies me in the presence of men will be denied in the presence of God’s angels. 10 Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man10 will be forgiven, but those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 When they bring you11 before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, don’t be anxious12 how or what you will answer, or what you will say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that same hour what you must say.”13
- Where are they, and how would there be an opportunity to address them all? Was there something from the previous periscope(s) that explains why such a large gathering of people came to this spot?
- How does Jesus relate to this action of trampling each other? Does Jesus use the crowd and trampling to inform his decision to pronounce the following “Beware..”?
- Read: Matthew 7:5; Luke 6:42; Luke 13:15; 1 Timothy 5:24-25 and Galatians 2:11-14. How would you define hypocrisy?
- How can hypocrisy affect us? How does it affect our friendships? Our testimony?
- Do you fear what others might think about you? How might that be affecting your lifestyle and witness?
- How have trials and difficult times in your life revealed your own failure of faith, hypocrisy, and the depth of your relationship with God?
- What affect has your disbelief in Christs’ grace and approval had upon you?
- Yeast is an illustration mostly of benefice rather than malice. Here it certainly has a malicious taint to it with the connection to the “Beware.” However, it can certainly maintain a Neutral connotation as it describes an active ingredient that expands, whether good or bad.
- Hypocrisy is an incongruity between what we believe in and love (on the inside) and what we profess and how we behave (on the outside). CR 1Cor 15:3; 1 Peter 2:1, 4:17-19; James 3:17.
- The revelation of God provided to us even now is the risk taken by all who ask the question, “Show me, Lord.” Words of prophecy, wisdom and knowledge; revelation through dreams, visions, prayer, preaching; reading the Word of God and being convicted by the same Holy Spirit. Thus this saying of Jesus cannot be simply relegated to what happens at the resurrection of the living and the dead, and the judgement that follows (even though the continuing discourse by Jesus includes death and the land of punishment after death (Gehenna); it must also be considered as an ongoing, daily action of the Spirit. CR 1Cor 4:5; Eccl 12:14
- Rather than linger on the Pharisees as those who “grow” hypocrisy, Jesus points to the disciples as having the same capacity, and whatever hypocrisy has already been activated in them toward others, or is, or will be, will also have its effect and affect, and will eventually be seen (by God, presumably) when exposed to the light. This teaching speaks directly to the “heart” of every person no matter who they are.
- CR 1Pet 3:14; Mt 10:28 which he told them in Sect. 70b at the Commissioning which commenced Phase 5b) nearly one year before.
- “Fear him” This is one verse which is disputed by some scholars to mean either fear the “devil” or fear “The Lord God”. The Adam Clark Commentary writes, “Even the friends of God are commanded to fear God, as a being who has authority to send both body and soul into hell. Therefore it is proper even for the most holy persons to maintain a fear of God, as the punisher of all unrighteousness. A man has but one life to lose, and one soul to save; and it is madness to sacrifice the salvation of the soul to the preservation of the life.” The dispute is related to the following phrase “who after he has killed” by which one camp says Satan is the destroyer, and the other refers to God of the Old Testament (which we are still in) who often took the lives of those who warred and rebelled against Him. IF accepting the stance that “him refers to God, it would have been great comfort to Jesus’ disciples and ourselves that he treasures and values us greatly. Indeed, now on this side of the cross and ascension we are witnesses and benefactors of God’s grace.
- Gehenna, from the Hebrew for “Valley of [the sons of] Hinnom”, a literal place, and from a very graphic understanding of the literal place, Jesus uses the phrase (as per local custom) to also refer to not just the resting place of the dead (Sheol, or Hades), but the place of eternal punishment. A more lengthy but helpful description of the relation between the two is found here. Briefly, there are two referents. It was used as a garbage dump, complete with worms and maggots. But much earlier, as a place used for sacrifices to the god Moloch, including the practice of child-sacrifices.
- Today Christians are also engaged in a spiritual battle. Satan uses fear to intimidate Christians, keeping them silent about the Good News, disbelieving the Gospel and focused and reliant on themselves rather than trusting in Jesus and walking in the Holy Spirit. CR Mt 10:28
- As we see in Mt 10:29 the price of sparrows fluctuated, 2 for 1 or 5 for 2. But the point here is of each persons value to God, especially that of the Disciples, see Mt 6:26.
- Comparatively, is “speaking a word against the Son of Man” the same or different than “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit?” If the descriptive is the same, why would it have potentially different results referring to the Son of Man (Jesus’ reference to himself) or to the Holy Spirit?
- Perhaps prophetically, Jesus applies the second part of his warning with specific focus on a certain form of hypocrisy and fear that will face the disciples who challenged to publicly acknowledge their faith and identity in Christ. As he was aware that he was nearing the crucifixion Nothing on earth would hinder the spread of the Gospel more than disciples who feared to speak of Christ, the Good News and their ongoing faith and service.
- A tough word comes in the concluding paragraph that goes beyond the basic message being taught by Jesus on choosing God, sticking with it, and then not being fearful of whatever happens here on earth. And it has a comparative edge that makes it even more difficult to hear and comprehend. “Those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit” gives an initial implication of daily walk with the Lord, and a fearfulness of not knowing what it means to blaspheme, and whether any momentary lapse of “blaspheming” may give you a “red card” for Gehenna! This will take some time to work through in a small group. CR: Galatians 1:10.
- Almost as a final piece of wisdom, Jesus encourages those who are facing death for their faith at the hands of whatever tribunal has been established, to not worry at that moment for blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, but to let the Holy Spirit at that moment to speak through you.