St. John's Lutheran
Our Unmasking is Our Salvation!
Matthew 23:29, 37-38
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.”
December 10, 2021
Last Friday we looked at the story of the wedding guest who was tossed out of the wedding party because he wasn’t wearing a wedding garment (Matthew 22:1 y-14). This is not about outward attire, but about inner transformation. Jesus brings this truth to a boil when He calls His opponents “hypocrites.” In the ancient world a hypocrite (hypocrites) is a term used in the theater. It referred to an actor who wore a mask and played a role. There is a stage personality and then there is the “real” person. Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites.” They were living before an “audience” of their peers. They masked their true selves. Jesus says to them, “woe to you…” (Matthew 23:13, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29). The woeful problem with hypocrisy is that we hide ourselves from the truth. We resist being unmasked, known for who we truly are because if you (or God) really knew me — would you still love me? But, there is a good surprise. J.R.R. Tolkien called it a eucatastrophe — a good catastrophe. We let God see us and wonder of wonders, we discover that God loves, forgives and calls us to come to Him like a mother hen calls her wandering brood. Our unmasking is not our undoing. It is our salvation. Yet, sadly it is possible that we live a masked life. We’ll go to our graves rather than be unmasked. We’ll watch everything we love destroyed behind the supposed safety of our masks of righteousness, or self importance, or superiority, or respectability, or prestige. Jesus, with a breaking heart, cries out, “Woe to you...How often would I have gathered you together under my wings, but you were not willing!”