“From the Inside Out”
I remember those Saturday mornings getting up and going car shopping with my Dad. Dad would stay up-to-date with car ratings, and customer satisfaction; his favorite source was Consumer Reports. We would drive from lot to lot looking at used cars. He was never in the market for a new one. It was the “used” cars and the savings that had his interest. He had his routine down to a science. The salesman would come out and ask if we wanted to take it for a test ride. Dad would then reply, “Go ahead and get the keys so we can look it over.” Little did the salesman know what “look it over” meant. For the next 45 minutes or so, dad would explain to me what to look for beneath the hood. He said although paint and body blemishes could be a sign of damage from a wreck, it’s what’s under the hood (and chassis) that matters most. Problems here are by far the costliest to repair. I, on the other hand, was only interested in the stereo system, mag wheels, cool spoilers and of course, how fast it would go. Dad would always come back to it’s what’s beneath the surface that matters in determining the actual condition of the car.
Luke chapter 12 starts off with Jesus warning the multitudes about the Pharisees. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). Luke ends chapter 11 with a heated exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees. A Pharisee asked to dine with Jesus. So, Jesus takes this opportunity to “take a look under the hood” and begins the meal without washing. Someone not washing before eating would have been offensive to the Pharisee as well as many of us. He then rebukes the Pharisees on how they wash the outside of the cup and dish (outward appearance), but on the inside, are full of greed and wickedness (Luke 11:39). Jesus goes on in verses 42-44 and gives additional evidence of their true condition. These include neglecting justice and love for God and others while taking the best seats in the house and greetings in the marketplace. He even likens them to an unmarked grave, which according to the Old Testament Law, makes a person coming into contact with the grave unclean! This charge was so severe it even offended the lawyers as well as the Pharisees. Jesus did the inspection and found serious flaws underneath the surface. “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke 12:2-3).
The next section of Luke 12, Jesus informs those with him not to fear. Keep in mind that the Pharisees, Lawyers and other religious leaders of the time wreaked a lot of havoc on the early church. “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say.” Luke 12:11. Saul of Tarsus was a devout Pharisee, and by his account (Philippians 3:5) he persecuted the church before his conversion in Acts chapter 9.
Back to Saturday morning car shopping with my dad. The salesman would then try to close the deal and make a sale. He would ask, “What would it take for you to drive the car home today?” In which Dad would always reply, “Let me think about it.” Frequently he would find something beneath the surface that compromised the integrity of the car’s structure. Likewise, how God judges a person is what lies beneath the surface. Let’s face it, without Christ, all we have is an unclean heart and a bad record. The only remedy for the fallen human condition is the gospel. The gospel changes us from the inside out through God’s unmerited grace. Jesus Christ is our representative. Through his holiness, we are made holy before God.
Dad never did close the deal on one of those Saturday morning car shopping outings. If he did, he couldn’t go out again the following Saturday and spend the morning looking at cars with his son. I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to go car shopping with my son, and it brought back those memories from long ago.