Walk through an ancient cemetery and odds are that you will be enthralled with the grim beauty of the buildings around you. Old mausoleums are stately, if for no other reason than their weathered and whitewashed stonework. Yet, no matter how beautiful the tombs in a cemetery look on the outside, you know that to look inside would be a horrifying glimpse of decay and death.
Mausoleums are fine when in the context of a graveyard. Found anywhere else, they become a concern. Even more concerning when they start to walk, to breathe.
We look at tombs with disguised disgust and don’t stop to think about the reality that sin we cling to makes mausoleums out of us.
Jesus identified this; he was willing to speak this hard truth to a human graveyard. Calling out the Pharisees for not lifting a finger to stop themselves from becoming tombs, he rebuked,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)
He wasn’t just talking to Pharisees and disciples; he was talking to you, to me. Oh, how he was talking to me. His words have been transcribed and copied down over and over just to carry through the ages and hit my heart.
I am all too often a whitewashed hypocrite. Outward smiles and service, inwardly decaying from unacknowledged sin. Or worse, sin I refuse to let the Spirit help me remove.
The idea of being a human tomb is sobering. I don’t want to be a hypocritical woman, plastering on righteousness when really I’m made of lawlessness. I want to look like Jesus; I want to do the hard and holy things it takes to pursue righteousness inside and out.
Mausoleums shouldn’t walk. It’s time we dealt with the deadness and decay we let dwell within.