Day 125: Table Manners (part one)

Luke 11:37-44 :

Now as he spoke, a certain Pharisee asked him to dine with him. He went in, and sat at the table. When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed himself before dinner. The Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but your inward part is full of extortion and wickedness. You foolish ones, didn’t he who made the outside make the inside also? But give for gifts to the needy those things which are within, and behold, all things will be clean to you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, but you bypass justice and the love of God. You ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like hidden graves, and the men who walk over them don’t know it.”

Once again, this passage makes it difficult to call Jesus “a nice person” because we read that when He was invited over to a Pharisee’s house He decided to publicly rebuke his guest as well as his whole religious party. Not only that, He didn’t wash His hands before dinner.

Through the eyes of faith, this ordeal is quite understandable, but through the eyes of a faithless man, it appears to be impolite and rude. It is interesting to me that rather than acquiescing to the faithlessness of his audience, he continued on in faith no matter what it made Him look like in public. The truth is that Jesus’ made the universe by the power of His word and anyone who believes this would know that He is quite able to make His own hands self-washing if He wants to. He does not have to abide by any physical rules that we do because He was not only man but God and the Creator of the physical realm. Should we wash our hands before we eat? I think so, because we will get sick and can’t heal ourselves, but the Son of God does not have to abide by our silly rules!

Instead of talking about hand washing, however, Jesus tears right into the heart of his guest. He tells him that he is filled with corruption in his heart and that only his outside looks good. If I am understanding the Jewish implications here, it would appear that, by calling them unmarked tombs, He was actually accusing them of corrupting others also. It is my understanding that a corpse is an “unclean thing” in Judaism. If you don’t mark your grave, unsuspecting passers by could make themselves unclean at a time when they are trying to stay clean for a ceremony such as the Sabbath or the Passover. Why should Jesus worry about being clean when his guest was filthy on the inside and in the process of spreading it to others?

Jesus was more interested in the purposes of the heart inside of a man than He was of man-made religious practices and these Pharisees had made an art out making a good appearance while maintaining a hidden lifestyle of sin. Jesus accuses them of “extortion and wickedness.” I would like to take a look at what these words mean because they must be easy to be fooled by, for if the people of Jesus day were tricked by these leaders, it should not be too surprising to us that these same things would happen secretly among our leadership today.