I remember going with my Dad to the small-town paint store where we picked one of the limited paint color options and took it home. Now, we have paint stores and mega home improvement stores with too many colors to fathom. Interestingly, to create all these colors, we take a can of base (no color) paint and add different colors to it to come up with the color we want. Once you add a drop of color to the base, the entire can is completely changed. Jesus references that same type of influence in the world in our reading today when he talks about the “leaven of the Pharisees.” 

  • Where in your life might a little dab of color–a little hypocrisy– be tainting your walk in faith?


12:1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 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.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 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, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Jesus described the leaven of the Pharisees as hypocrisy. At its core, what is this hypocrisy?
  2. Each of the three paragraphs of verses show results or effects of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. What are the results or effects of this hypocrisy in each of the paragraphs?
  3. Jesus gave an example of an unhealthy fear as well as a healthy fear (vss. 4-5). How are these different?
  4. In what way might you be living in hypocrisy today, where you fear people instead of God?


Jesus gave us a blunt reminder that the sin of hypocrisy can have an adverse effect on all people. The result of this hypocrisy is an unhealthy fear: the fear of being “found out” because “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (vs. 2). The fear of not having the approval of others results in not properly fearing or following God. How easily we seem to forget that God knows us more intimately than we can imagine, since “…even the hairs of [our] head are all numbered.”

  • Pray that your fears might be overcome as you focus on God.
  • Pray that God will help you to live your life out in the open, since nothing is hidden from him anyway.