White Washed Sepulchers

A rather pompous-looking deacon was trying to impress a class of boys with the importance of living the Christian life. “Why do people call me a Christian?” the man asked. After a moment’s pause, one youngster said, “Maybe it’s because they don’t know you.” (S … More


In our next woe Jesus gives an analogy of the Pharisees who appeared righteous on the outside. (like unto white washed tombs) however they were corrupt and decaying on the inside (vv. 27-32). It was a tradition for the Pharisees to build and decorate the tombs of the martyrs.

However it was their spiritual fathers who killed the martyrs.Notice several contrasts between Jesus’ teaching and the teaching of the Pharisees:

Jesus                                               Pharisees

Taught spiritual life                      Majored on rules                    

Measured by character               Measured by activity

Taught humility                             Very proud

Emphasized the inner man          Concerned about externals

Glorified His Father                       Sought glory  for themselves 

The generation to which these words were addressed represented the culminating point of the whole sinful history of the nation, beginning with the murder of Abel by his brother Cain (see Gen 4; Heb 11:4) and going on to the murder of Zacharias son of Barachias (vv. 33-39). In (II Chron. 24:20-21) we find the account of the murder of Zechariah son of Jehoiada “in the court of the house of the Lord.” If this is the incident here referred to, the mention of Abel and Zacharias may be intended to cover the whole Old Testament revelation. God’s greatest desire for us is always to develop and nurture a growing, satisfying relationship with Him. He created us for deep fellowship with Him, but we make the choice as to whether we allow Him to fulfill His purpose in our lives.


The natural man desires praise and glory like the Pharisees instead of giving all glory to God. It is real easy to be a Pharisee. Have I ever done something well and wanted to take the credit myself? I should give all glory to God and others because they made it possible (Matt. 23:12).

Matthew 23:27-39 (English Standard Version)

""Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

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