October 11, 2020

What’s Under the Veneer?

Passage: Luke 20:41-47

In woodworking, one of the tricks of the trade is to cover a plain species of wood with a veneer of a more beautiful or desirable species. Veneer is a thin sheet of wood glued on the top of the undesirable wood. The piece of furniture looks like it’s made of a beautifully figured species of wood, but in reality, the beauty is only skin deep. Under that thin veneer is something less desirable.

E.g., kitchen cabinets—often made of press board or plywood—covered by a veneer of a beautiful and desirable wood.

Sometimes we find good things under a thin veneer or coating. Sometimes beautiful wood furniture is hidden under several coats of paint. Something beautiful and valuable might be hidden by a plain exterior veneer. On the other hand, sometimes when we look under the veneer, we find something really horrible.

Things may not be how they appear to be on the outside. Sometimes that’s good, but sometimes that’s not so good. Sometimes we fail to understand how special a person might be under that veneer. Sometimes we fail to see how corrupt a person might be under that veneer.

Many of the Jewish people thought of Jesus as a great teacher and prophet, but nothing more than that. The Jewish religious leaders thought of Jesus as a deceiver and a false prophet. Both the followers of Jesus and the enemies of Jesus failed to understand the true nature of Jesus. There was something more to him under his appearance.

Many of the people thought of the scribes as holy, humble servants of God. These teachers of the law held positions of high esteem among the people, but underneath the polished exterior was a heart of darkness. Under that thin veneer was something entirely different.

On Tuesday of the Passion Week, Jesus had been in the temple answering various questions that hostile groups had been asking him. They were seeking to trip him up or entrap him in his words so that they might accuse him before the Roman authorities. Instead of getting Jesus in trouble, these questions only served to discredit the Jewish religious leaders and make Jesus even more popular. So the Jewish religious leaders stopped asking questions. Since they quit asking questions of him, he decided to ask a question of them.

Today we’ll look at this question and the following warning that Jesus gave to his disciples. Both the question and the warning show that people are not necessarily what we perceive them to be. That veneer may hide something really wonderful—as in the case of Jesus—or something really horrible—as in the case of the scribes.

And as we consider what was under the veneer of Jesus and the scribes, we should think about what’s under our veneer. Under the appearance that we portray before others, are we more like Jesus or more like the scribes? Is there good wood under our veneer or rotten wood? What is your veneer hiding?

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