Prof. Josh Overbay – “Whitewashed Tombs”

September 12, 2013

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” – Matthew 23:27-28

As you read this text, what came to mind when you encountered the word “hypocrisy?” I would assume that many of you saw images of politicians and televangelists caught in secret affairs or tax fraud, or maybe you thought of people you know personally that said one thing, but did another. Or did you place yourself in the passage and feel convicted for not “practicing what you preach?” Based on the context of the passage, however, all of these images are woefully misguided.

If you look at the earlier portion of Matthew chapter 23, you discover that Jesus is using the term “hypocrisy” to not reference secret sins or duplicity, but a lack of compassion and transparency as seen in the Pharisees. They cared not for truth or love, but only desired to appear to care for these things, and slowly they began to believe this false narrative.

When one prioritizes the appearance over truth, it makes it impossible to experience community with one another and with God. It is this lack of honesty and self-reflection that Jesus refers to as “hypocrisy.” His Kingdom values transparency and honesty. In His kingdom, this is the beginning of holiness.


- Prof. Josh Overbay, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts

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