Whitewashed Tombs: Matthew 23

A rather striking bit of imagery used by Jesus. An illustration of a person whose holiness exists only on the surface, and does not come from the heart. Yet 2000 years later we still struggle with the same legalistic perception of a righteous person. So it’s a concept that should be explored thoroughly. Let’s face it, the surface is often what we see most clearly, even if it doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s also what others see most predominately in us, so we can be very deliberate in what we let others see, so as not to expose what we find undesirable about ourselves.  So it is easy to get wrapped up in appearances, even if the Bible defines such assessments as faulty (John 7:24) since everyone else is being just as deliberate about their surface as you are.

“Whitewashed” people are more concerned about being right, than doing right. They are motivated more by the comfort of uniformity than God’s will. Otherwise, they wouldn’t resort to such unloving correction. (1 Corinthians 16:14) Rebuking without love is a direct violation of the beliefs they claim as sacred. (John 15:9-17)

Someone painting over another blemishes in white paint
Whitewashing someone else’s tomb, colored pencil

If it is foolish to whitewash self, how much more foolish is it to force it upon others?

Jesus telling a brokenhearted person to not fake it.
That won’t heal your wounded heart, colored pencil

True holiness is not a matter of Camouflage.
The only one you are fooling is yourself.

a wounded person encouraging another to fake it
Whitewashed wounds, colored pencil

“Can a world of posers tell you to do anything but pose? As Buechner Says, We are in constant danger of being not actors in the drama of our lives but reactors, “to go where the world takes us, to drift with whatever current happens to be running strongest.”
-John Eldredge, citing Frederick Buechner