Exposing the Hypocrite: The Necessary Ministry

In Luke 11, Jesus Christ is invited to a lunch. The host: a Pharisee. This man had just witnessed Jesus casting out a demon (11:14). And the Pharisees in general had summized that Jesus had done that work by the devil himself. How ludicrous! Why would Satan send his own messengers to the Abyss? No matter. These men were not interested in rationale. They made this accusation because, as it says in v.29 and v. 12:1, “The crowds were increasing…(by) so many thousands…” They needed to silence Jesus and the way to do that, they thought, was to make senseless accusations in the public arena to turn people away from Him and keep them in their control. They further wanted/demanded a sign from Him thinking that this would “test” Him. These men needed to discredit Jesus. Why? Why would they want to discredit a Man who is casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, etc…? Let’s find out.


This Pharisee invites Jesus to lunch. No doubt, this was a set-up. However, Jesus was well aware of it and did not act any differently than He would have otherwise. In other words, He was no hypocrite. When Jesus sat down to the table, He initiates the fight by not observing the ceremonial washing of the hands before a meal (See Mark 7:3-4). Jesus knew that His freedom to sit down and eat without washing His hands in ritualistic fashion would upset the Pharisees. That is why He did it! He needed to upset their self-righteous rituals.


The Lord, then, makes the first statements. In essence, Jesus tells the Pharisee, the host, that he is clean outside but filthy inside (v. 39). He tells him that he is legalistic, self-righteous, and void of the love of God (v.42). He tells him that he is full of sinful self-importance and lusts after respectful greetings in public (v.43). He tells him that he is like a concealed tomb-people walk over it but don’t realize what is actually inside of it (v.44).


At this point, a lawyer answers back to Christ and says, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too” (v.45). Jesus has some words for them as well. They too are self-indulgent while demanding insane rigidity from the people they are leading (v.46). They were like their prophet-murdering fathers (v. 48). They are those who will kill the messengers of Jesus Christ (v.50) and yet will be held liable for their bloodthirsty behavior (v.51). They keep the truth from people, never entering into truth themselves (v. 52).


Now, at this point, Jesus has hit about every button He can in one sitting. After Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees, Luke tells us, “…began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say” (vv.53-54). It is at this point that Luke wants us to understand that Jesus purposely said what He said about their sins. Their wicked hearts could not respond in any other manner. They wanted to entrap Him and then, if they could do it publicly, use their diabolical accusations against Him and discredit Him before the people.


The problem is, however, there were so many people attracted to Him that they were stepping all over each other to hear Him (v.12:1). It was “under these circumstances” that Jesus turns to His twelve disciples and says a most crucial lesson to these men that they could ever hear. Jesus said,


Luke 12:1b

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.


Jesus had just outlined actual cases of hypocrisy in the lives of the Pharisee and the lawyers. He had identified them as outwardly appearing acceptable before men while pretending to represent God to them, but all the while be deeply dark and corrupt in their hearts.


Therefore, these men needed to always, always, be aware of the effect of hypocrisy. It is a leaven. It spreads. It permeates. It affects deeply in the heart of men and women who are already prone to pretending to be something they are not. In this case, the disciples must guard against not only the Pharisees themselves since a hypocrite cannot be believed or trusted-ever. But they must also resist any form of hypocrisy by simply revealing it, just like Jesus Himself had just exampled to them. They must expose hypocrisy, not simply coexist and hope that they don’t cross paths.


However, hypocrisy won’t win. Hypocrites will be found out (v.2). What they are hiding will be revealed at some point. Therefore, the apostles must not speak privately what they can’t say publicly and thus play the hypocrite themselves. What will be the result? Rage. Rage by the hypocrite towards the apostles. They will impose fear on these men (v.4). Nevertheless, God should be feared more (v.5). They can only kill the body. God can throw a soul into hell! But, in their impotent threats, God will protect and care for these men (vv. 6-7).


What are they to do? What is their proper response? I will tell you the proper response-preach. That is the proper response. Jesus said,


Luke 12:8–9

8 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God;

9 but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.


They will be threatened to stop preaching the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:17-20). They will be warned and they will be opposed. However, they are under orders by the One who can cast the souls of the cowardly apostles into hell if they will no longer confess Christ before men. And, in fact, when they would bring these men before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, there should not even be a thought or worry about what will be said in their own defense. These men, like us, must rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to bring to mind what to say.


Beloved, the church is full of hypocrites. These are men and women who hate the truth, hate the Father, hate the Christ, hate the Spirit, and despise the light. They are those who, if they could, they would create a thousand more hypocrites like themselves out of God’s people. They are, as Jude wrote,


Jude 16

16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.


And they are:


Jude 19

19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.


The Pharisees, in prototypical fashion, exhibit for us whom to beware of. And, Jesus, in prototypical fashion, exhibits for us how to expose their hypocrisy and remain faithful to the truth in light of the threats of the hypocrite. After all, obedience to God will cause antagonism from the hypocrite. But, obedience to the hypocrite will cause antagonism from God. Which will you choose?