SHINY OUTSIDE BUT STINKY INSIDE
Luke 11:37-38 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
Susie: One of the Pharisees in the crowd invited Jesus to dinner at his home. Sounds nice, but we must remember that the Pharisees were constantly looking for instances to accuse Jesus of breaking their laws or traditions. Jesus walked in and apparently went immediately to the table and reclined. The Pharisee was appalled that Jesus did not “wash” before dinner. This was not a matter of hygiene but a break with tradition:
Pulpit Commentary as quoted at
Verse 38. - He marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. An elaborate system of utter meaningless ablutions, each carried out with particular gestures, had been instituted by the rabbinical schools. All these senseless forms and ceremonies had been developed out of the original simple directions to secure cleanliness in the Levitical Law. It is probable that our Lord, intending to bring about this discussion. pointedly abstained from even the ordinary ablution on this occasion. The language of ver. 37 seems to point to his entering the house and at once sitting down at the table. The Talmud has many references to these practices. R. Akhibha, it proudly relates, died of thirst rather than pass over these preliminary washings. In the same compilation we read that it was currently supposed that a demon sat on hands unwashed.
Susan: Jesus probably made this faux pas on purpose to bring about the topic of cleanliness within as well as without that He wanted to address.
Luke 11:39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
Susie: Jesus is not criticizing the Pharisees’ dishwashing technique. He is metaphorically addressing the way they present themselves versus how they really are.
Susan: By all outward appearances, the Pharisees were in line with God’s laws while in their hearts they were deceptive and sometimes purely evil.
Luke 11:40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
Susie: The Lord made our entire being, the earth-suit (our body) and the person that fills it (our mind, will, and emotions). God had given specific requirements for cleanliness of the body (which the Pharisees had elaborated upon), but He demanded inner cleanliness as well. The Pharisees were meticulous about their outward appearances but neglected to develop the inward character that God demands.
Susan: The reason they neglected their inward personal development was that it took more time, effort, and energy than they were willing to expend.
Susie: We will also see that they were more concerned with looking good to others in order to secure a prominent position than they were with demonstrating love for God and others.
Luke 11:41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers quoted at
That which defiles is selfishness; that which purifies is the unselfishness of love.
Susan: Jesus was explaining that generosity and love supersede outward rituals.
Susie: We see this in the next example, as well as the importance of have both the outward obedience and the inward motivation of the love of God.
Luke 11:42 But woe3759 unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Susie: Jesus could be pronouncing woe as a judgment on the Pharisees or saying they are bringing woe upon themselves by their actions. We do not use the word “woe” much in our day to day conversations. Therefore, we are providing the original Greek word definition from Strong’s and a dictionary definition of the English word:
The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
3759 – ŏuai – a primary exclamation of grief; “woe” – alas, woe
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary quoted at
1. (n.) Grief; sorrow; misery; heavy calamity.
2. (n.) A curse; a malediction.
Susan: The Pharisees were making offerings of everything in the spice rack while withholding their hearts which is really withholding themselves.
Susie: They tithed to the max but in compassion they were lax. They would cheat widows out of their homes. They were like modern tenement owners who make a show of philanthropy but rent out apartments that should be condemned.
Matthew 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Susan: The Pharisees were similar to slum lords. They enjoyed a high place in society by being ruthless with the poor.
Susie: Outwardly they “cleaned up good,” but inside they were devoid of justice and compassion. The Lord told them they should take care of both the inward attitudes and the outward appearances.
Luke 11:43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
Susan: They wanted prestige in the community.
Susie: However, as stated before, they had no true concern for the welfare of their neighbors in the community.
Luke 11:44 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.
Susie: Even walking over a grave caused the Jew ceremonial defilement, meaning the person could not participate at the temple or synagogue until ritual washing had been performed. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus compared the Pharisees to whitewashed tombs that looked clean on the outside but contained decaying flesh (Matthew 23:27). Tombs were whitewashed as a warning to walk around rather than over them. Here, Jesus says they are like graves that have not been properly marked, thus causing people to be unaware that they had been defiled.
Susan: The Pharisees were truly dead men walking. They had no life in them because they did not accept Jesus or His teaching. By rejecting the Son whom God had sent, they were rejecting God Himself.
Susie: They looked like upstanding religious leaders but were leading the people astray by their unbelief. We will see this clearly in the next chapter of Luke:
Luke 12:1b Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.