Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
I guess I’m old school in that I like to at least look the part when I engage in golf activities. I prefer shirts to be tucked in, shoes clean and collars stiff. I’m not a fan of baggy shorts or t-shirts during a regular round of golf. They are fine for the driving range or a late evening round with the spouse. When I’m serious about playing, I feel like I need to have “the look.” It doesn’t take me long to come to the realization that I can fire a 90 in pleated trousers just as easy as I can wearing sweatpants.
I’m afraid we are too concerned with “the look” when we worship Christ. We think if it looks good on the outside, the inside is just as kept. The Pharisees lived by this motto of “look good, play good.” We religiously try to adhere to our forms and tradition, while often missing out on the one big thing – a true relationship. We wear the Jesus cross and share the “if you love Jesus, you won’t be shamed to post this” picture of Jesus on Facebook. People see us talking to Jesus as we pray before we eat at a restaurant, but fail to bring Him home.
When Jesus addressed the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27, He compared them to “white washed” caskets. They looked great on the outside, but were dead and dirty on the inside. We are familiar with the “white washed” look as we use the pressure washer each spring to clean up molded patio furniture, wooden decks or picnic tables. The high pressure water and soap mixture cleans off mold very well. The process, however, does nothing to the integrity of the wood. The outside can be clean, but full of rot and decay under the surface. Such was the case for the Pharisees. They played the part perfectly in terms of outward appearance, but seriously lacked spirituality.
During this time period, Jews whitened graves in order to be able to identify them. Many times, the sepulchers were in unusual places and the whitening prevented innocent people from coming into contact with them. As you know, it was a serious violation for a Jew to come into contact with a dead body. Unfortunately, we don’t have these warnings today because we are frequently fooled by religious looks. Let us desire a true inward relationship with Christ that isn’t dependent upon looks, appearances or feeling.