Luke 12:1-3

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

May 16, 2001


A few weeks ago we began a section where Jesus has been invited over to the house of a Pharisee for dinner.  When Jesus didn’t follow the long Pharisaical practice of a ceremonial washing before dinner, the host was curious about Jesus.  Then Jesus began to talk directly to the Pharisees about the problems He saw in them.  He talked about how they were concerned about external appearances but weren’t concerned about their own hearts.  He talked about how they like to have lots of recognition.  He bruised their pride as He spoke.  He warned them that they were just like those who killed the prophets of old.  He warned them that instead of lifting burdens from people, they were adding burdens.

As Jesus said all these things, the Pharisees entered into “combat” mode.  They began to start looking for things wrong in Jesus, listening for mistakes in His teaching, looking for ways to get Him.

Over the last few weeks I’ve tried to remind you that of all the groups of Jews in Jesus’ day, the Pharisee is the group closest to what we are like.  The Pharisee believed in the inspiration of the Scriptures. The Pharisee believed in obeying the Scriptures, wanting to please God.  The Pharisee believed in miracles.  The Pharisee believed in a resurrection from the dead.  The Pharisee believed in angels.  Hey, that’s us too!  So when we look at the warnings about the bad side of being a Pharisee, we better be careful.

The sect of the Pharisees had begun about the time of the Macabee’s and was in the beginning a very good and powerful spiritual movement among the people of God. They had their birth in the midst of a spiritual awakening among God’s people. Their purpose was a return to purity of religion and worship. Their desire was to keep the law of God in every detail.

:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

an innumerable multitudemurias (“myriad”) – ten thousand; an innumerable multitude, an unlimited number; innumerable hosts

trodekatapateo – to tread down, trample under foot, to trample on; metaph. to treat with rudeness and insult; to spurn, treat with insulting neglect

As Jesus has been confronting the Pharisees, a huge crowd gathers.  The people are stepping on top of each other.

unto his disciples – Jesus is aiming this next teaching at those who are following Him.  He is not aiming it at the Pharisees.

leavenzume – leaven; metaph. of inveterate mental and moral corruption, viewed in its tendency to infect others; Leaven is applied to that which, though small in quantity, yet by its influence thoroughly pervades a thing; either in a good sense as in the parable #Mt 13:33; or in a bad sense, of a pernicious influence, "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump"

hypocrisyhupokrisis – the acting of a stage player; hypocrisy

In the Greek stage plays, the actors would hold up masks over their faces to describe the mood they were trying to convey.   If they were in a “happy” mood, they would hold up their “happy” mask while they talked.  If they were in a “sad” mood, they would hold up their “sad” mask.  You’ve probably seen pictures of these masks on old theaters or in credits of old movies. 

The essence of acting (and hypocrisy) is trying to be something that you’re not.  It’s hiding behind a mask.


Being fake is contagious

When you bake bread, you only need to use a little bit of leaven in the dough.  As you let the bread sit and “rise”, the leaven begins to permeate the entire loaf until the whole loaf of bread has the effect of leaven working in it.
Jesus says that hypocrisy is like leaven.  All it takes in a large group is for a little hypocrisy to go unchecked, and it will spread.
When one person begins to pretend about his relationship with the Lord, I think that deep down inside most of us know that it’s an act.  There’s something that lacks the “ring of truth” to what they say.  All you hear from them is “exterior” kinds of things, things that describe the mask they’re wearing.

I’m not talking about a person who is having a difficult time in life and doesn’t want to open up quite yet and so they simply say, “I’m okay” when you ask them how they’re doing.  Jesus is talking about people who are pretending to be Superman when they’re not.  He’s talking about people who are pretending to be close to God when they’re not.

When we allow this kind of “mask-wearing” that others will do to be acceptable to us, it spreads like leaven.
I believe this is one of the reasons why God was so harsh on Ananias and Sapphira in the opening months of the early church, because God didn’t want to allow too much hypocrisy to be present at the beginning.

(Acts 5:1-5 KJV)  But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, {2} And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it, at the apostles' feet. {3} But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? {4} Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. {5} And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

Ananias’ sin wasn’t in keeping some of his money from the sale of his property.  His sin was in pretending that he was giving everything he owned to the church when he wasn’t.  His sin was hypocrisy.


A disciple shouldn’t be a fake

Jesus is aiming this lesson at His disciples. 
At the moment He’s speaking, there is a huge multitude of people swarming the place.  And Jesus wants to make sure that His disciples are different from the Pharisees.  Jesus wants to be sure that His disciples will stand out in the crowd because they are real.
I think the world needs to see “real” Christians.  Sometimes Christians aren’t perfect.  Sometimes Christians hurt.  Sometimes Christians have problems.  Though we’re not proud of these times, they’re real.  The world needs to see that Christians go through tough times, but they have a God who helps them. 
When the world sees “joy” in a Christian, it needs to be God’s joy, not a plastic, fake mask.  When they see “love”, they need to see the real thing, not a pretend kind of love, but God’s agape love.
George MacDonald wrote, “Half of the misery in the world comes from trying to look, instead of trying to be, what one is not.”

:2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.

coveredsugkalupto – to cover on all sides, to conceal entirely, to cover up completely

Sometimes there are things in our lives that we have tried desperately to cover up.

hidkruptos – hidden, concealed, secret

This is in view of the Pharisees looking carefully at all that Jesus was now speaking (11:53-54).

(Luke 11:53-54 KJV)  And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: {54} Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

Jesus wasn’t afraid of what the Pharisees were going to find in His life or words, but they had better be careful about their own lives.


Light reveals hidden things

If the light is strong enough and the right kind, you can see through almost anything.

If I hold up an envelope, can you tell what is in it?  If I put a strong light behind the envelope, you can see what’s inside.

With an x-ray machine, you can see inside your body.  With some of these new kinds of cat-scan machines, they can now even tell if you have heart disease or a tumor.

If you want to get rid of hypocrisy, you need to be willing to hold things up to the light, you need to be honest about what is going on in your life.  I think there are a couple of ways this can be done:
1. The light of the Word

(Psa 119:105 KJV)  NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

God will use His Word in our lives to bring out the secret things in our hearts, if we let Him.

(Heb 4:12 KJV)  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

God’s Word is a “discerner”

discernerkritikos – relating to judging, fit for judging, skilled in judging

I think that we can read God’s Word with our “eyes closed” sometimes.  I think that sometimes we can spend time in the Word and not let it sink in very far.  But if we’re willing to really pay attention, we will find God showing us all kinds of things about ourselves.

2. The light of His presence

(Psa 89:15 NLT)  Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD.

I think that when we are truly giving God honor and praise in our hearts, we will find ourselves in His light.  God will begin to shine His light on all sorts of things.

Isaiah found this out:

(Isa 6:1-7 KJV)  In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. {2} Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. {3} And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. {4} And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. {5} Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. {6} Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: {7} And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

As Isaiah had his eyes opened to God’s presence, his first reaction was to realize how sinful he was.  But it didn’t end there.  As Isaiah acknowledged his sin, God saw to it that Isaiah was cleansed.

The point of bringing things into the light is not just to show us how unworthy we are.  It’s to cleanse us.  It’s to heal us.  It’s to change us.

David has a good prayer regarding this:

(Psa 139:23-24 KJV)  Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: {24} And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

:3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

closetstameion – a storage chamber, storeroom; a chamber esp. an inner chamber; a secret room

Sometimes this happens in this life.  Sometimes something we’ve said comes back to “haunt” us.

Ultimately, this will happen when we stand before God.


Speak into the microphone

Sometimes it helps me to think that I’m probably being videotaped at the moment, and I’ve got in my mind that the person I’m talking about is watching from heaven at some later date.
Police in Radnor, Pennsylvania, interrogated a suspect by placing a metal colander on his head and connecting it with wires to a photocopy machine.  The message “He’s lying” was placed in the copier, and police pressed the copy button each time they thought the suspect wasn’t telling the truth.  Believing the “lie detector” was working, the suspect confessed.
Sometimes I wish we all had that feeling that everything we were saying was being recorded and tested to see if it was true.