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Anatomy lesson 10: religious hypocrisy persecutes true worshippers of God

Rev. Enoch Thompson | August 13, 2023 | Matthew 23:29-36


"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. Matthew 23:29 (NIV)


Hypocrites are murderers. To live a hypocritical life is to equip oneself to be dangerous. The Lord launched a scathing attack on the Scribes and Pharisees and called them murderers because though they pass judgment on their forefathers as having martyred the prophets of old, they were guilty of the same in their intention and desire to murder the Messiah, God in human form. Their scheming to trap the Lord Jesus and end His righteous life is captured in the Gospels.

“The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.” Mark 11:18 (NIV).

Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. Mark 14:1 (NIV).

“Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him.” Luke 19:47 (NIV).

When we claim to be Christian and live in disregard of the Word of God and hate our brothers and sisters in Christ, we crucify anew the Son of God and draw Him into cosmic ridicule. We may point at the Jews and Gentiles of their time who crucified Christ. But we become hypocritical murderers who, by our choices and mindsets torture God by our ways.

What about when we hurt our fellow humans, especially our fellow Christians? What about gossip, lying, and cheating in business and relationships? Can we talk about the ganging up against those who in the context of the Church insist on things being done to meet the standards of the Bible or to follow due process in management and administrative procedures?

We are the new Pharisees and scribes when we make life difficult for righteous souls that come our way.


Are you an accomplice of some sin past or present? Do you blame the failures of your parents, Pastors, and leaders when your actions and thinking sustain the wrong that was done? It is time to live a separated life, truly detached from the ungodly past, and to choose new ways that show love and submission to God by honouring godly people and supporting them in their commitment to honour God.


Dear Lord, I sometimes blame my parents and my leaders for things they did not do right. But at the same time, I am guilty of the same offences by my thoughts and my actions. Please forgive me and help me to chart a new path distinctly different from that which was unhealthy. May I be a support to those who truly represent you, and where necessary be ready to suffer with them. For your dear Name’s sake, Amen.


SHOWERS! BLESSINGS!! _______________________________

DAILY word study:


In Matthew 23:29, Jesus uses this phrase to emphasize the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. He rebukes them for engaging in elaborate practices, such as decorating the tombs of the righteous, as a display of outward piety while their hearts are far from true righteousness. The phrase reveals the discrepancy between their external actions and their internal motivations. To understand this better let us look at the root meaning of the words in the phrase:

  1. "Decorate" is translated from the Greek word "κοσμέω" (kosmeo). It conveys the idea of adorning, embellishing, or making beautiful. It's related to the concept of arranging things in an orderly and attractive manner.

  2. "Graves" is translated from the Greek word "μνημεῖον" (mnēmeion). This word refers to a monument, tomb, or grave, usually used to honour and remember the deceased.

  3. "Righteous” is translated from the Greek word "δίκαιος" (dikaios). It denotes one who is just, upright, morally right, or adhering to divine laws and principles.

The phrase "decorate the graves of the righteous" offers a powerful lesson about the danger of empty religious rituals and displays. The act of adorning graves seems honourable and respectful, but Jesus is highlighting that it's possible to engage in religious practices for the sake of appearance rather than a genuine heart connection with God. This teaches us the importance of sincerity in our faith. It's not enough to appear righteous on the outside; our hearts must also be aligned with God's truth and love. True honour for the righteous comes from embodying their virtues and principles in our own lives, rather than engaging in superficial gestures.


Are there areas of your spiritual life where you might be more focused on external displays than on genuine heart transformation? How can you ensure that your actions are rooted in a sincere desire to honour God and reflect His righteousness?

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