Have you ever gone to a costume party, one where you had to wear a mask? Sometimes it’s fun to pretend to be someone you are not, even if for just a short time. But some people choose to live wearing a mask everyday.
In the past, the word hypocrite was used to describe an actor. Instead of having a complete cast for a play, one man would act out several roles, wearing a different mask for each role.
Jesus called the Pharisees and teachers of the Law hypocrites. These men pretended to be servants of God; they wore the mask of a follower. But Jesus knew what was on the inside, under their mask.
In Matthew 23, Jesus addressed the Pharisees. His words to these fans can be combined into four Woe Messages.
Fans choose rules over relationship.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” (vs. 13)
Have you ever tried to measure your relationship with God by the rules that you keep?
Fans choose laws over love.
“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath. (vs. 16)
The Pharisees added so many of their own rules to God’s Law that it was almost impossible to obey. Any why would anyone even want to try to get close to a God who required so much from His people? Love should triumph over law, for there is no law against love.
Fans choose guilt over grace.
“They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.’ (vs. 4)
We have all messed up, and sometimes we feel like we have to work harder to make things right, but we forget about grace. Fans are about the do, but followers celebrate because it’s already been done.
Fans are missing what really matters.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. (vs. 23)
Tithing and church attendance are not what makes a follower. Jesus isn’t looking for your money, He’s looking for your heart.
Are you wearing a mask of religion and relationship? Jesus invites you to come to Him. Take off the mask and live as a follower today.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30