Jesus and the Hypocrites
Pastor Steve Ellison
The world says, “There are too many hypocrites in the church.” Jesus agrees. In Matthew 21:18-19, Jesus defined hypocrisy, “Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you. And at once the fig tree withered.” (NASU) Every Christian will bear fruit. If one who claims to be a Christian does not bear Christian fruit, he is a hypocrite. A Christian is one who is in close intimate union with Christ, thus fruit-bearing will be a natural by-product of that intimate relationship. Love, joy, peace, self-control, evangelism, etc. will be evident in the life of a Christian. If such fruit is not evident, then one ought to examine oneself to see if he is in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5) The fig tree in this passage had no fruit, nothing of value, only leaves. Some who claim to be Christians have only leaves. All they have to show is for looks only. They produce nothing of value, nothing that helps others or furthers the cause of Christ. That is the definition of a hypocrite. You will also notice that the hypocrite fig tree did not receive much in the way of mercy.
Jesus then told a parable that paints a picture of hypocrisy. Matthew 21:28-32 states, "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.' 29 "And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterward he regretted it and went. "The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, 'I will, sir'; but he did not go. "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. "For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.” (NASU) The religious leaders to whom Jesus was speaking correctly identified the hypocrisy in the second son but they did not realize that they were also pointing it out in themselves. Jesus was very frank with them. They were hypocrites of the first order. They had heard the call to repentance but refused it. They refused to learn when others responded to the call to repent. The religious leaders were like the second son in the parable. They gave only lip service to Christ.
It is a terrible thing when people claim to be Christians and pretend to be upstanding church members while living contrary to Biblical principles. It matters not whether that is fornication, homosexuality, greed, gossip, theft, etc. This is hypocrisy. This behavior causes others to avoid the Church. On the other hand, it is an equally terrible act of hypocrisy to claim to be a Christian and avoid the church because of others’ hypocrisy. Staying away from Church because it has hypocrites in it is not a valid excuse. Claiming to be a Christian and presenting oneself as a church member in good standing all the while cutting financial corners in business dealings makes one a hypocrite. Claiming to be a Christian and staying away from Church for any reason makes one a hypocrite as well...……..…..email@example.com