Gustave Doré: Dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees
In today’s post I would like to introduce the topic a little better for this new category.
In Jesus day there was a group of people called the Pharisees. This was a sect of Judaism that was very legalistic in nature. The rules that had to be followed were seemingly endless, it was a heavy load for anyone to bear. Not only were the Ten Commandments to be followed, one had to follow all of the Mosaic Law as well. On top of this one was also required to follow the Oral Torah, supposedly passed down from Moses to Rabbi after Rabbi. Mixed in with this was the need to follow any Jewish tradition the Rabbis deemed appropriate. Does this all sound like it is a bit much to carry?
It was said that the Pharisees were legalistic even back then, but the meaning may have been that they (the Pharisees) observed the law the best. In today’s world, we see them as being legalistic. We also know they worried more about appearance then what was contained on the inside, hence Jesus harsh words with them.
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it. 23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! 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. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Are we not sometimes like this? Observing the proper rules and etiquette, doing what we know is considered to be “normal” so that we fit in? I know I have done this at times. We do as we are expected to do, agree with the status quo, looking good on the outside regardless of what is happening or not happening on the inside.
Do we sometimes worry more about appearance then what the condition of our heart is? I am not here addressing those who say, go to church and their heart is not in it once in a while, we all have those days. Rather I mean people that often are at church because it is a duty, it is expected as part of ones standing in the community. Unfortunately these types of people even serve as elders and deacons…part of their “image”.
The Sunday Christian, you know the ones…they come to church sometimes, or even faithfully. The rest of the week is spent living life for themselves, no bible time, no prayer, and no service to the church.
How about divisions in the church? What about those who serve and make decisions on such things as the new carpet’s color, and this turns into a serious problem and causes hard feelings. All because someone could not have their way, does this seem like proper behavior for God’s people?
Would we not as God’s people be better off to work on the inside of ourselves, verses trying to imposes our “rights” and our “mindset” on others? We all need to follow the rules whether they are societies rules, churches rules, or our parent’s rules. At the same time though, we must not neglect having a focus on the inside. Are we working on matching up the inside to the outside? Are we seeking to improve our relationship with our Father in heaven or are we just coasting along?
What about the spec in our brother’s eye? Are we trying to take it out while ignoring the large plank in our own eye? I have to admit I have done these things, have you?
Do we only follow what is taught in church when we are in church, or when we know others are watching? The gap between what we profess to believe and the way we act when alone is hypocrisy. The true you is the person you are when alone.
What are your thoughts on these things? Are you willing to share anything about your journey? I invite you to participate in this journey as we look into our struggles as Believers together.
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