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WHICH FACE ARE YOU PUTTING ON?

Abraham Lincoln was once criticized by an opponent in a debate of being two-faced. The plain looking president retorted, "If I had another face, would I be wearing this one?" Mark 12:13-17 records an incident in the life of Jesus which reminds us that sometimes people with two faces show up at church A delegation of Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus saying, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" Read carefully, and you observe that all the things these men said about the Lord were true. Jesus never courted any man's favor. The people questioning Him, however, had on their "game faces" the day they came to Jesus, for Mark records that their express purpose in questioning Him was "to catch Him in His words" (12:13b). That these men were two-faced and that they had on the wrong one is evident, for the text records Jesus "knew their hypocrisy" (12:15). The Greek word translated "hypocrisy" in this text is hupokrisis (pronounced "hoop-ok'-ree-sis").It means "acting under a feigned part, i.e. deceit" (strong's Concordance). It is closely akin to the word hupokrinomai which means "to dissemble, pretend, or feign." These words had to do with actors in ancient times who wore a mask and played a part in a play or drama. Those who wore such masks and played such roles were literally "play acting." The problem in our text is that the religious leaders who came to Jesus were fakes. They were two-faced people who were saying some true things about and to Jesus but for some very, very wrong reasons. Their flattery was aimed at causing problems and pain for the very One they were praising.

Have you ever said something you knew you didn't mean to anyone? One woman told her preacher as she went out of the church building, "I don't know how you do it. Every sermon you preach is better than the next one.'" Someone observed that flattery is to be used like perfiune - smell it and enjoy it, bui don't swallow it. It is remarkable that the Son of God, the greatest preacher who ever lived, had to deal with people who complimented Him to His face while criticizing and planning to crucify Him behind His back. Each of us is a work in progress standing in need of God's grace, yet not all our failures are due to hypocrisy and insincerity. It has been noted that a hypocrite is a person who never intends to be what he now pretends to be. Jesus encountered religious people who were two-faced, just playing a part. This gives pause to ask ourselves, which face is it we are putting forward - the real one, or a fake?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ