v 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
You may well have met people who hide their real circumstances of sadness, stress or genuine poverty behind a veneer of cheerfulness and responses of ‘I’m fine thanks.’ That is not what Jesus is talking about. He has in mind people who hide their wrong attitudes and inner motivations behind a façade of respectability. That is what hypocrisy means – it is playacting life. Such a person has an eye on impressing the audience; it is a matter of getting a good write-up from the critics. It does not matter that the part being played bears no similarity to the actor’s real character.
Some months ago a scammer very nearly tricked me into opening up my bank account on-line. A smooth talking, and apparently well-informed, but bogus, BT operator claimed to be helping me correct a fault in my system. It was all lies, but sounded pretty convincing. These Pharisees were the first century equivalent of scammers. They were plausible; we-know-how-to-help-you kind of people. Behind that façade lurked a grasping, selfish religious opportunist. It was social respect and money they were after. How often do we hear in our days of elderly people cheated out of their savings by people claiming to help them!
It is this mismatch between appearances and reality that Jesus is urging us to avoid. Pray for yourself today, that your real self, motivated by God’s Holy Spirit, will become apparent in your dealings with others.