While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. Luke 11:37-41
The Pharisees were too concerned with how they appeared in public. As long as they appeared pious to the masses they cared little about the inner person. In fact they spend much of their time finding ways around God’s Law. In today’s verses a Pharisee who had asked Jesus to dine with him was appalled that Jesus did not wash before He ate. Luke is not talking about bathing or even washing one’s hands but the Jewish custom at the time of the washing of the feet before dining.
It is very possible that the Pharisee did not have a servant there to wash Jesus’ feet. We have seen this before when the woman anointed Jesus feet with perfume in Luke 7:36-50. The Pharisees did not invite Jesus into their houses because they wish to befriend Jesus but to question Him and hopefully trap Jesus into saying something against God’s Law.
In this instance Jesus calls the Pharisee on his preoccupation with outward appearances. In doing so he uses the image of a cup to illustrate His point. What would you think if you came to my house to eat and I gave you a bowl that sparkled on the outside but was encrusted with past meals on the inside? You would be appalled and probably question is we should remain friends. No matter how clean the outside of the bowl was you would refuse to eat from it.
God is like that with us. No matter how great we look on the outside, God is concerned with how we are on the inside. God does not want us to pretend to follow Him while we refuse to follow Him with our hearts. No God wants us to commit to him from the inside out. Then God will work on the outside and the inside to make us into what He always intended humans to be.
Too often we like the Pharisees want to put on a show for others. We say look at me. See how good I am. See what a good person I am, all the time plotting and scheming to get ahead in the world. What God wants is for each of us to fully surrender to Him and then place Him first. God is concerned with our hearts and minds and not how we look on the outside.
When I was young everyone dressed up to go to church. We called the clothes we wore our Sunday best. It made for a pretty picture but now as I have gotten older I wonder how many were too embarrassed by the clothing they had to go the church. I wonder how many were turned away from the church doors because they were not dressed appropriately. Which person should we admire in church, the guy wearing a t-shirt, cutoffs and sandals who is there to praise and worship God or the guy in the three piece suite well groomed but there only because he believes going to church will be good for his business? The first the outside of the cup may not sparkle but the inside is clean. The second man shines in all his glory but inside he is full of greed and wickedness. It is ok to shine on the outside as long as we shine on the inside.
Have a blessed day,