I have often wondered whether I’m a help or a hindrance to people who might want to follow Jesus. There’s that famous, yet largely mythic, quote from Ghandi that is always floating around in my head, “I would follow your Christ if I could find but one Christian who followed him.” Am I like that? Is my faith one that is unhelpful? Does my “holiness” push people away from Jesus or attract them to him? I desperately want my life to be one that is attractive and beautiful to people who don’t know Jesus.
In look 11:37-54 Jesus is invited into the home of a Pharisee for a meal. The Pharisee is offended that Jesus did not wash before eating. Jesus response? “Why do you worry about my outside when your inside is filthy.” He calls the Pharisees unmarked graves. The point of that remark is that people who interact with them are becoming ceremonially unclean just like they would if they touched a grave, they just don’t know it. He also goes after the scribes and says that their legal demands are hindering people from entering into the faith. He’s brutal.
And I wonder, am I just like them? In my quest to walk with Jesus and invite others to follow have I become an unmarked grave? How do I avoid it?
This interaction closes out chapter 11 in Luke’s gospel. The chapter opened with the Lord’s prayer and ends with this confrontation. In the middle it’s all about repentance. This last story shows us what it looks like if we are living an unrepentant life. The Pharisees and Scribes were trying to manage their sin through outward behaviors. The reality is that the change that needed to take place was one that was of the heart. They needed to repent and embrace the forgiveness and grace that is found in God the Father.
The question before us is simple. Are we living lives of repentance and faith or are we becoming unmarked graves?