Are you a hypocrite? If you know yourself well, you would probably answer “yes” to that question. Truth be told, we all struggle with hypocrisy to some degree, but this is especially true when we look at what the word meant in Jesus’ day.
In Biblical times, the term hypocrite was simply used to identify a stage actor, not specifically to call out those who claimed to be one thing but lived as another. Back then, you may have heard something like, “Leonardo DiCaprio is my favorite hypocrite.” In other words, the term didn’t have a negative or pejorative connotation. The significance of this, then, is that Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, not because they were necessarily cunning, but because they were playing and pretending to be holier than they were. They were acting on a religious stage and assuming the role of perfection. Since the Jews were subject to nearly 613 regulations, there was no way that any person could keep all of them. Jesus knew that the yoke of the law was too heavy for sinful humans to bear, so he called out the scribes and Pharisees by telling them that they were performers — they didn’t really do everything right, they were just piling it on and maintaining an outward appearance of righteousness. Thankfully, our Savior died to set us free from having to play such roles!
Friend, I have good news for you today — you don’t have to perform any longer! No matter what demands have been placed on you by yourself, by religion, or by others, you can receive the Lord and walk in His easy yoke. The perfection you have tried to achieve has not made you a better person; it has only enslaved you. Vow to live in the finished work of your Savior and let Him do the heavy lifting. Throw off the chains of the law, take off your mask, and walk freely in His grace, mercy, and rest!