the consequences of Hypocrisy

We are all hypocrites ! If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we recognise that we possess the same failings as others. We are all human, and while we are all capable of the displaying the best qualities of our humanity, we are all equally capable of exhibiting the worst.

“How are you today ?”

“Oh, I’m fine !”

A little lie, but nevertheless not true. We lie in such instances because we don’t want to admit our inner weakness in the face of problems; or else we don’t want to bother others with our burdens.

Either way, we avoid the plain truth.

Such instances are commonplace, though not usually too serious.

Other examples of our hypocrisy, however,  are serious.

We all want to be seen in the best light by other people, especially those we believe to be our enemies. We don’t want to admit that we possess the shortcomings common to all humanity. And sometimes we go to extraordinary lengths to avoid the truth about ourselves and about the problems which we cause as a result.

To avoid the truth, and therefore our responsibility for our behaviour, we so often choose to focus on others faults. We deflect attention from ourselves because of our embarrassment, and we deliberately pick over the failings of other people. It is so easy, and so gratifying. Instead of dealing with ourselves, we can relish the embarrassment and discomfort of others. We can rejoice that we are not like them; that we are such nice people, while they are demonstrably not nice at all.

In reality, that makes us even worse of course, yet we don’t see it. We live in the self deception that we can be so perfect while others are so bad.

What a way to boost ourselves – by maligning another human being for being human, just like us.

Now, it is often the case that what we see and criticise is both true and correct. The person we criticise really is guilty of what we condemn in them.

That just makes it worse, does it not ?

Because we deceive ourselves that we are so right and good, when in fact we know deep down inside that we are not.

Today we may be able to legitimately criticise another, and yet tomorrow they will be able to legitimately criticise us in turn for what we do. Invariably however when they get their own back, we take offense and become even more vindictive. Even worse. We tell ourselves we are right even when we are wrong, and we look for opportunities to congratulate ourselves on how right we are and how wrong the other person is.

Well, this is exactly what we find happening in chapter 12 of the Gospel of Mark in the Bible. And we find there too, God’s verdict on this hypocrisy.

After centuries of their disobedience to his laws, God had had enough of the Jewish people. He’d had enough of their religious hypocrisy, whitewashing their failings and criticising the prophets he had sent to help them see their error.

The Jewish leaders responsible for teaching the people the ways of God fell into 2 categories: Pharisees and Sadducees.

Both groups wanted to discredit Jesus and make themselves look good. Even though they had persistently failed over the centuries to lead the people by their own example into being obedient to God.

First up the Pharisees spokesman. He tries to embarrass Jesus and get him condemned by the Roman authorities for rebellion, or else be condemned by all the crowds who followed him for siding with the hated Roman authorities. So he asks the loaded political question: should we pay taxes to Caesar ?

Jesus both answers the question directly and exposes the Pharisees hypocrisy and manipulation. Jesus takes a coin and gets the Pharisees to acknowledge that the coin bears Caesar’s image. So Jesus answers:


Thus Jesus deals with the Pharisees. So the Sadducees then try in their turn to catch Jesus out and make themselves look good. They did not believe in life after death, so they ask Jesus who will be the husband of a woman who has been the wife in turn of 7 brothers who had died in succession when they all are resurrected and in heaven.

Jesus points out quite simply that there is no marriage in heaven, and affirms from Scripture that there is life after death in this physical, mortal world.

Then Jesus goes further and points out the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders. He cites the example of a simple poor widow who put in just a couple of coins into the collection, while the rich put in significant sums of money.

Jesus points out that she actually put in more than them all because she put in all she had. The rich gave out of their abundance, however, which meant that they had a great deal left for themselves.

Jesus speaks to the heart of the matter. Attitude. The widow gave everything to God; she gave sacrificially; it cost her both in attitude and in her physical need – her very basic physical need. The rich had made no such sacrifice.

This ingrained hypocrisy on the part of the religious leaders and of the rich and powerful over the centuries had led the people astray from God’s ways.

But God still holds the people responsible because they knew God’s law for themselves.

And that is why the chapter starts with the parable of the vineyard rented out to tenants. The vineyard owner returns and kills the cheating, murderous tenants who were guilty of killing the owner’s rent collectors and then his son. The Jewish leaders realised that Jesus was speaking about Israel and the prophets God had sent over the centuries.

Thus Jesus signalled a new covenant to replace the religious Old Covenant with a specific nation.

Which means we must all be honest with God about our attitudes !

Christian Preacher 


By Christianity

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