Religious Pharisees. Jesus said your rituals are without reason. There isn’t a glimmer of intelligence in them. It’s like washing the outside of a dish, but not touching the inside. The reason they did/do these foolish things is for greed – to maintain control. They raped people by ravaging, robbing, and plundering them. This is not love. It is rape. It’s the violent act of ravaging the souls of people. Jesus spared no words


Religious Pharisees Clean Outside Nasty Inside – Luke 11:37-44

By Delbert Young


Sermon video

Religious Pharisees Clean Outside Nasty Inside – Luke 11:37-44

Scriptures: Luke 11:37-38; Luke 11:39-41; Luke 11:42; Matthew 23:33; Luke 11:43; Luke 11:44; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

It seems, as I study God’s word seeing all the evils and sins spoken of, Jesus considered religion the worst. What I mean is, the most severe warnings and damnations ever coming from the mouth of Jesus were directed at the most religious people. Since Jesus is a religious figure we would think the more religious a person is the more affirmation one would expect to receive from God especially a devout Jew. The thought in the world is the Jew in Judaism will always be God’s favorite. That is not the case. The fiercest damnations Jesus gave were to religious Jews. Have you ever wondered exactly why this was and is? The reason this is so important to know is so we will avoid those damnations.

Religion contrary to the truth is from hell and takes people to hell. Religion contrary to truth is a damning deception. Religion contrary to truth perverts the scriptures. Religion contrary to truth gives the allusion all is well with God when it’s not. Perverting the scriptures both Old and New Testaments brings the most ferocious judgments and these are the reasons why the wrath of Jesus was/is invoked.

Luke 11:37-38 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus DID NOT FIRST WASH before the meal, was surprised.

Jesus had finished speaking about how the generation was a wicked generation. They considered Jesus from hell empowered by Beelzebub and they wanted a sign from heaven. The only sign they would get would be the sign of Jonah. The queen of the south and the men of Nineveh would judge them. The light in them was actually darkness (Luk 11:14-36). It seems strange how after speaking of this a Pharisee would invite Jesus to eat, but Jesus accepted the invitation.

This fascinates me on several accounts. First, why would a Pharisee ask Jesus to eat with him especially if he truly believed Jesus was empowered by Beelzebub? Second, why would Jesus accept? We have to admit Jesus is nondiscriminatory. Jesus ate hot wings and beverages with tax collectors and sinners and he ate noodle casserole and drank sweet tea with religious Pharisees. If someone said to me, “I’m having a religious party. Would you like to come and argue theology?” I’d say, “No!” but not Jesus.

Perhaps here is a good time and place to refresh a little about the Pharisees. The Pharisee movement came into existence after Babylonian captivity around 600 BC. Cyrus released the Jews from captivity to return to their land, but did not allow them to have a “king.” To maintain civic order religious groups emerged with the Sadducees and Pharisees being among those groups. After a long period of revolts, wars, and rebellions, the Pharisees emerged to prominence around 150 BC with their intended purpose being to maintain the Law of Moses. The purpose was honorable, but over years they created the Talmud and Mishnah which, to them, “expounds” God’s laws. For example from, “do not work on the Sabbath” came hundreds of laws “expounding” and defining what work is. They took every aspect of God’s word and added to it their traditions perverting God’s word.

They were very religious, devout, and moral people who revered the Old Testament. They monitored not only their personal public conduct, but the conduct of everyone. They religiously prayed long prayers. They talked constantly about God. They became intensely angered when anyone did anything contrary to their defined ways. They lived out their strong religious convictions. To the observer, it would appear they would be Jesus’ favorite people. Instead, they were the most repulsive. Jesus said they were blind guides. God stood in their very midst and they said he was of Satan – Beelzebub. Yet, this Pharisee asked Jesus to eat with him. Why? We will see. They thought they were setting Jesus up. Jesus was setting them up. We do this. We think we’re pulling one over on God. Watch out!

Jesus went to the Pharisee’s house knowing full well their plan where he immediately incites them. Jesus went straight to the table and reclined skipping an important part – washing his hands. We would think that’s nasty, but this wasn’t washing hands for hygienic reasons. This was ceremonial washing created and developed by the Pharisees written in the Mishnah, not from God’s word. It was/is a ritual washing the Pharisees forced upon the people. Let me show you what this was/is.

YouTube video.

That was what Jesus purposefully omitted. Jesus insulted the man at the very beginning, offset of the visit. Why? Did Jesus forget to wash? Can God forget? There is only one reason. It was to confront their religious tradition and ignite a confrontation.

Luke 11:39-41 Then the Lord said to him, “NOW THEN, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. YOU FOOLISH PEOPLE! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

What a nice way to address your host! Jesus compared their religious tradition to washing a filthy dish on the outside, but not washing the inside. He will continue and list several inside issues that bother him. They were full of greed and wickedness on the inside, but doing their silly ritual to appear clean. The ways of the Pharisees, and Judaism today, taught/teach people to externally display a washing, but do nothing to clean the inside. God made both and both should be cleansed with emphasis on the inside. We’re all like this. No one wants to be nasty and stink, but how do we look and how do we smell on the inside?

Jesus said, “You foolish people!” The word translated foolish is aphron {af’-rone} – without reason, senseless, foolish, stupid, without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly. Jesus said your rituals are without reason. They’re stupid. There isn’t a glimmer of intelligence in them. It’s like washing the outside of a dish, but not touching the inside.

Jesus said, “You are full of greed and wickedness.” The word translated greed isharpage {har-pag-ay’} – the act of plundering, robbery, plunder spoil, ravage, rape. The reason they did/do these foolish things is for greed – to maintain control. They raped people by ravaging, robbing, and plundering them. This is not love. It is rape. It’s the violent act of ravaging the souls of people. Jesus spared no words expressing in vivid terms what religion does to people.

I like how the New Living Translation writes verse 41.

Luke 11:41 SO GIVE to the needy what you greedily possess, and YOU WILL BE CLEAN ALL OVER.

Giving is a cleansing process. Have you seen the Farm Bureau commercial with Charlie? It ran back during Christmas. Let’s take a look.

(YouTube video)

Doesn’t just watching that wash something inside you? We need to give. If we don’t we become greedy wicked religious people going through our stupid senseless rituals. How do you do on giving? Jesus said to give alms (Mat 6:1-4). Alms is to be secret giving. When we do it God rewards us openly. Giving will clean us all over.

Jesus lashed out with six woes. Three were given to the greedy wicked religious Pharisees. Three were given to the “experts of the Law.”

Luke 11:42 “WOE TO YOU PHARISEES, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

Jesus didn’t mean “Woe” as in “Woe! Awesome.” Woe is speaking God’s just judgment to… It’s actually speaking the damnation to hell upon whomever. Here is what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew.

Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

It’s the roughest language one could use. Jesus was not saying, “Damn you to hell” to a person. In cases where Jesus became this specific, the scriptures never use a person’s name. Jesus damned the “Pharisees” to hell for perverting God’s word, ravaging the people, and being full of filth inwardly. Again, exteriorly, it looked great, but inwardly it was rotten.

The Pharisees demanded tithing. It was sin to Pharisees not to tithe. We sometimes struggle with tithing, but Jesus didn’t. He clearly says; do not leave the tithe undone.” He said to not neglect the tithe. Practice giving the tenth. We should be precise with our giving. His problem wasn’t their preciseness with tithing. He blasted them again because of the washed outside nasty inside problem. They tithed externally so everyone would see their radical commitment to God, but neglected justice and the love of God on the inside. It was an external show.

If it wasn’t so sad religious people would be hilarious. Once I had someone come to me after a service talking about someone smoking outside. I responded, “What were they smoking?” “A Cigarette,” I was told. Feeling a little protective, I said, “That’s great progress from what they used to smoke.” I received an email once telling me they came here because they didn’t feel condemned for having tattoos. I hear it the other way too. Someone who enjoys wearing a suit to church told us, “I wear a suit to church not because I feel I’m supposed to. I couldn’t afford one to wear when I was younger. I can now so I wear one to church.” People ask what they need to wear to church. The answer is clothes.

External issues are not what Jesus emphasized we wash. We have no idea what God is doing in a life and I’ve determined it’s not my job to figure it out. All I’m to do is love. It’s God’s job to deal with any other issue and actually, that makes it way easier for me.

Luke 11:43 “WOE TO YOU PHARISEES, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

In case those of you sitting on the front row feel bad, that isn’t what is meant. It would be important seats on the platform. This is one reason we’ve never sat on the platform. Again, it was all exterior. In public, they wanted to be noticed and honored. They dressed in their Pharisaical garb to be recognized. I’ve been to conferences where speakers would dress strangely wearing robes and hats and wanting to be addressed as “Apostle,” or “Bishop. I couldn’t help but think, “What?” This bothers Jesus.

Luke 11:44 “WOE TO YOU, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”

Jesus referenced Numbers 19:16 where touching a grave caused a person to be unclean and defiled. His meaning is obvious. These religious fools full of greed and wickedness, seeming so clean on the outside paying their tenth down to the garden herbs, but neglect justice and the love of God, who want to sit on the platform and be recognized by people in public, defile people and people have no idea it’s the most religious people defiling them. They said they make people godly. Instead, they make people defiled. Too frequently people have no idea. Legalistic, judgmental, condemning religion takes an unsuspecting unknowing person and indoctrinates them. Once in, false doctrine is nearly impossible to get out. It’s leaven. The problem is the Pharisee loves their darkness more than light (John 3:19). They didn’t love people. They didn’t love God. They loved their religion. These are the things Jesus doesn’t like and will bring to damnation. I’ve got to make certain these are not in me.

Jesus isn’t done here, but we’ve had enough good news for one day. I want to close with this taught.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 LOVE is patient, LOVE is kind. IT does not envy, IT does not boast, IT is not proud. IT is not rude, IT is not self-seeking, IT is not easily angered, IT keeps no record of wrongs. LOVE does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. IT always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. LOVE never fails.

As sort of a test to see if we have some religious Pharisee in us, or the opposite – love as Jesus tells us, instead of using “Love” or “It,” place your name and see how well you fit. We’ll use me. “Delbert is patient, Delbert is kind. Delbert does not envy. Delbert does not boast. Delbert is not proud. Delbert is not rude, Delbert is not easily angered, Delbert keeps no record of wrongs. Delbert does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Delbert always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Delbert never fails.” No. I fail regularly. In fact, I don’t do “love” very well do I? I don’t fit in that passage well. How well do you fit? My point is there is probably some Pharisee in us all. There’s probably some greed and wickedness, some aspects of a fool, some injustice and not loving God as we should, some desire to be acknowledged, and some things we do causing others to be defiled. But, as long as we’re aware of this and working on this, Jesus can and will help us and we will be better people and a better church after this study. And, we will avoid damnation.

Other Related Sermons:

The Resurrection Proofed – Easter sermon video audio notes

Easter Nonsense – sermon video audio notes

I SEE GRACE pt 2 – Easter sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young