The Height of Hypocrisy

“Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.” (John 18:28)

Jesus had previously condemned the scribes and Pharisees as misguided hypocrites, “who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24) Now just a few days later, we see them living out a perfect example of it:

This verse tells us that after bringing Jesus to Caiaphas, they took Him to the Praetorium (the governor Pilate’s official residence) in order to accuse Him unjustly and have Him put to death (:31). But they didn’t want to actually ENTER the Praetorium, because as a residence of Gentiles like Pilate, it would render them ceremonially “unclean”, and by Jewish custom, they could not partake in the Passover.

What hypocrisy! On the one hand, they wouldn’t enter a foreigner’s house because it would make them ceremonially “unclean”; but at the same time, they were falsely accusing a Man who had done nothing wrong, and were about to KILL Him! “Straining out the gnat” of ceremonial uncleanness, they “swallowed the camel” of murder!

But as with all scriptures, “these things were written for our instruction” (I Cor. 10:11). Let us make sure we don’t have similar inconsistencies in our own lives: that we aren’t picky about straining out some little point of theology or Christian practice, while at the same time “swallowing the camel” and violating something immensely more important.

We are often blind to such inconsistencies in our own lives — as the Jewish leaders were here. This is another reason why we need to let the word of God speak to our hearts daily, and expose these things — as well as listen to the God’s messengers when He sends them to confront our hypocrisies.

What might be some examples of similar types of hypocrisy today?

— Making a big deal of “tithing on the gross and not the net” — all the while mistreating your own employees on the job, and withholding needed salaries and benefits.

— Being fastidious about never missing a Wednesday night prayer meeting — while ignoring your neighbor who needs your help or visit that night.

— Making sure a deacon or pastor isn’t divorced, because he must be “the husband of one wife”, yet totally ignoring the fact that he might have a quarrelsome, divisive spirit which I Timothy equally warns about.

— Carefully observing “Roberts Rules of Order” in all church business — while totally ignoring Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples as your church’s main business!

We could go on and on with examples. The point is, let God’s word speak to every area of your life. Don’t be so picky about some little area in your life (or someone else’s!), while completely ignoring something even more important. Don’t “strain out a gnat”, and “swallow a camel.”

About Shawn Thomas

My blog,, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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