27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
In all of these “woes” Jesus is exposing the religious hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes. They oppressed the people with religious doctrine and rules and made themselves look more important and powerful than they really were. They portrayed images of holiness while being rotten to the core. Jesus illustrates it in today’s “woe” in verses 27-28. It’s an ironic image of tombs that look pure and pristine and “holy” while inside there is just rotting flesh and bones. Is this the extent of our spirituality?
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He instructs His followers to be careful of why they perform certain spiritual disciplines. He warns against prayer, fasting, and giving to be recognized by others. I’ve noticed that truly spiritual men don’t consider themselves to be, because they recognize where they still fall short. Sometimes, however, we use this type of false humility to appear humble and spiritual when all the while we are “eating it up” inside. We must be careful of self righteousness. That is, worrying about our outward appearance to others. One way to combat this is transparency. The bible exhorts us to share our struggles, faults, and sins with one another so that we can pray for one another. This helps us to remain humble and in exchange, we actually grow closer to others and to God. We actually become stronger spiritually! Imagine that. If we become more concerned with cleaning out the rotten flesh instead of covering it up, we actually get closer to achieving holiness.