"You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean."Again Jesus is referring to the consciousness of the inner self as contrasting with ones external appearance and activities. The word "inside" comes from the Greek word ἔσωθεν (esōthen), which means "from within" and "your soul" according to the lexicon.
Jesus is referring to the soul - the person within this temporary physical body.
The phrase "full of dead men's bones and everything unclean" refers to their consciousness. Jesus is speaking of a consciousness of being self-centered and full of greed.
Being like "whitewashed tombs" means from the outside they may appear pious, but this is disguising who they really are inside. This is confirmed by Jesus' next sentence:
"In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Isn’t it ironic that many who claim to follow Jesus - priests, preachers, pastors, ministers and reverends of the various ecclesiastic sectarian churches - who speak of Jesus’ teachings and Jesus’ life in their sermons on Sunday - follow in the footsteps of these “teachers of the law and Pharisees” that Jesus is speaking of here?
They have institutionalized the teachings of Jesus. While focusing on the interests of their organization and their positions within it, and the various rituals related to utilizing Jesus' murder for their salvation, they have missed the essence of Jesus' life and teachings: To love and serve the Supreme Being.
In fact, we can see this tendency among humankind among so many different sectarian institutions around the world. So many ecclesiastical teachers from these institutions have focused their energies upon the politics and group think that prevails in that organization as they seek their positions of authority: All the while ignoring the core tenets of those who provide the namesake to their organizations. We see this among those institutions centered around Jesus, the Jewish prophets, St. Francis, Mohammed, Buddha, many Eastern teachers, and others.
These institutions may have been formed early on to carry on the teachings of their particular teacher, so there may be no fault there. And these may have involved some sincere students of those teachings. But these have often been followed by many who have sought to utilize these organizations to gain their own prestige and power - just as the Jewish priests and Pharisees referred to by Jesus.
This is precisely what Jesus is accusing these Jewish teachers of: They have been using the teachings of their teachers - the prophets - for their own purposes of establishing personal prestige and authority.
Those who do this offend those teachers they pretend to represent. And once they begin to teach, they pass on this offensiveness to others. This breeds successive generations of those who not only misunderstand the teachings of the teacher(s), but offend them by using them to seek their own personal power and authority.
This has taken place among many sectarian organizations who claim to follow Jesus. Instead of focusing on Jesus' instructions to do God's will and learn to love God, they focus their teachings upon praying to Jesus for money and material things, and "bathing in the blood" of Jesus in order to be cleansed of sins.
Were these the teachings of Jesus? He gave so many lectures and sermons. Why did he never instruct those around him to pray to him for money, or to heal our backache or to get a great job? Why did he never tell his students that they can wait until he is crucified, and just be saved by staring at the cross and pledging their allegiance to him?
Jesus describes this clearly:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will come to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' ” (Matt. 7:21-23)Jesus will send us away, because our focus has remained upon ourselves and our own interests. We aren't interested in what pleases God. We are focused on ourselves, and how to impress others with our religiosity.
"...only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." What does this mean? To do the will of another means to serve them. So Jesus is saying that unless we are serving God, even though we might stare at the cross, and cry out that Jesus saved us, Jesus will still say: ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
Jesus' teachings told us to instead focus our hearts and lives upon God. This is why Jesus' primary teaching was:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)