Jesus constantly warned about hypocrisy throughout his earthly ministry. Whether it was the institutionalized hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:13-15, 23-29), or the leavening effects that such hypocrisy on professing believers (Luke 12:1), Jesus recurrently emphasized that we are ever in danger of falling into hypocrisy. Since such hypocrisy was most prevalent among the religious leaders in Israel in Jesus’ day, pastors and others engaged in public ministry are far from immune from such hypocrisy in our own day.
When the Apostle Paul wrote his epistles, he often dealt with the issue of sincerity and hypocrisy in ministry. The same Apostle who said, “what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rom. 7:15-20) also said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). Paul, at one and the same time, acknowledged the principle of indwelling sin in his own Christian experience and a deep determination to avoid falling into the trap of hypocrisy. There was a devout resolution in the heart of the Apostle to put hypocrisy to death daily–even as he recognized the irreconcilable warfare between the flesh and the Spirit that raged in his heart.
And, while it is true that all Christians must have the same resolution as the Apostle Paul, there was only One who never knew anything of the reality of indwelling sin–the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only One who perfectly abstained from every form of sin and hypocrisy. There was not one insincere bone in the body of Jesus. Jesus never taught others something that He did not perfectly exemplify in His own experience. This is perhaps nowhere better seen than in his teaching on the Sermon on the Mount. No one ever had a pure heart like Christ. Jesus never lusted after a woman, never lied, never had a hateful thought or affection. Jesus was perfectly pure in heart. Jesus loved His Father with all of His heart, mind, soul and strength.
There is an astonishing picture of Jesus’ sinless sincerity that forms when we see that Jesus did all that He taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus embodied His own teaching in the Sermon on the Mount when He gave Himself to carrying out the work of redemption. Consider Matthew 5:38-42:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”
Jesus perfectly put these same truths into practice when He entered into His sufferings for our redemption:
Jesus did not resist the evil person when the soldiers came to take Him captive in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:47-56). In fact, Jesus went so far as to heal the servant of the high priest, whose ear Peter cut off out of misplaced zeal for his Master. Jesus was simply putting in practice what He taught when He said, “Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44).
Jesus turned the other cheek–so to speak–when his captors “spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?”” (Matt. 26:67-68). Jesus did not retaliate when He was struck. In this sense, he turned the other cheek.
Jesus gave away all of His garments as He was being crucified. Matthew tells us, “Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: ‘They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots'” (Matt. 27:35). John gives greater detail when he wrote, “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: ‘They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.’Therefore the soldiers did these things.” (John 19:23-24).
Jesus went the extra mile when He carried His cross to the place where they crucified Him. After being held captive he entire night, we read, “He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull” (John 19:17). Jesus not only subjected himself to betrayal, false accusations, judgment, mockery, abuse and derision at the hands of men–He carried the heavy tree to the place at which His enemies nailed Him to it.
In this brief cameo we see the way in which Jesus did all that He taught–especially as it pertained to His carrying out the work of redemption for the salvation of our souls. The Savior has taken away the sin of our hypocrisy by His sincere obedience. Who but Jesus could keep the commands of God with such sinless sincerity? Then, having perfectly done what He taught in absolute sincerity, Jesus left us with the most potent example to follow. As the Apostle Peter wrote:
“To this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘ Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth;’who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:21-24).