12 Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. 3 Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.
This is sort of a mishmash of sayings and teachings of Christ that Luke groups together in this passage. It all relates to things that would have been very much in mind for the 1st century reader, particularly the Jewish Christians who would have regular clashes with the Pharisees. Recall Luke’s own reported experiences with St. Paul, the author would find these words very meaningful for his own life and probably wanted to include them to encourage others.
As they’re mostly teachings or sayings that tie into the previous chapter’s theme of Christ’s conflicts with the Pharisees, Luke includes them here.
Jesus is at the height of His popularity. The crowds are so large that they number in the thousands and that people can hardly move at all without tripping over each other.
Jesus’ first teachings are to the disciples and are a warning against indulging in the same hypocrisy that the Pharisees did: focusing on religious tradition and observance rather than Charity, mercy, and justice; holding themselves and their friends to a lighter standard than everyone else, trying to appear righteous in public to win acclaim and esteem from the masses.
Your character will be revealed. You can’t hide it forever. Eventually who we really are seeps through the walls we have built up and the masks we choose to wear to hide our inner selves from others. If you think other people are there just to validate your own ego, then you will eventually treat them like objects. If you are filled with self-righteousness and pride, you will treat others who fail to measure up to your standard poorly. If you are struggling with a secret sin, chances are good, it will influence your actions and eventually come to light. If you are critical of others, or gossip, or backbite, your words will come back to haunt you.
Our actions reveal our character to others.
For the disciple of Christ, the idea is to reject the temptation to be religious, and to embrace authenticity: a life of openness and honesty. The Christian is to admit his faults and confess them to one another because the focus of his life is not himself. He is not obsessed with displaying a front of righteousness, but should be obsessed with living a life that displays grace, charity, and mercy to others. As God has been gracious, loving, and merciful to him, so his own life aims to show those qualities by his actions to his fellow man.
That is where religion does the most harm, including our own notions of Christianity that we slip into. It places the focus firmly on me: my walk with Christ, my good works, my personal relationship, my struggles with sin. It’s all about me. I am the center of the universe. Jesus would have died for me alone. God has a wonderful plan for my life. I’m going to rule and reign with Christ. Me. Me. Me. I. I. I.
And so, in getting wrapped up in my own little cocoon of Christianity, I close myself off from a world of people in need.
That’s where the Pharisees were. That’s where many of us, myself included, often find ourselves.
So how do we get out?
We make a choice this day (and every day) that Christianity is not a religion about me. That the life that Jesus lived was not about making me feel like a better person, but about showing us the Way of Life.
That Way of Life that we choose to imitate, which means seeing other people, recognizing their importance and needs, and living a life that extends to them via our actions: mercy, Charity, and grace. And part of that is authenticity. Honesty. Openness.
May we all be authentic men and women this day.