THE PHARISEES OF ISRAEL WERE METICULOUS IN OBEYING THE LAW.
IN FACT, THEY CAME UP WITH HUNDREDS OF THEIR OWN LAWS, WHICH WERE SUPPOSED TO HELP THEM BETTER OBEY GOD'S LAWS. THEY CONSTANTLY OPPOSED JESUS, AND SOUGHT TO TRAP HIM.
I WILL COMMENT BRIEFLY, AS WE LOOK AT CHRIST'S TEACHING ON PHARISEES.
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
2 "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.
THE PHARISEE WAS SOMEONE IN THE POSITION OF AUTHORITY!
3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
THE PHARISEE DOES NOT PRACTICE WHAT HE PREACHES (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS A HYPOCRITE; OR ACTOR).
4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
THE DEMANDS OF A PHARISEE ARE BURDENSOME. THEY OFFER NO HELP OR ASSISTANCE.
5 "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;
THE PHARISEE MAKES SURE YOU KNOW HOW SPIRITUAL HE IS & MUCH MORE SPIRITUAL THAN YOU!
6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;
PHARISEES LIVE FOR PRESTIGE AND RECOGNITION. YOU'LL FIND THEM SITTING ON THE PLATFORM, OR IN A CHOICE PEW AT CHURCH.
7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'
THEY ALSO LIVE FOR TITLES; "PASTOR", "REVEREND", "MOST REVEREND", "PROFESSOR".
8 "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.
THE KINGDOM SHOULD BE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. NO SPECIAL TITLES OR PRIVILEGES.
9 And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.
10 Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ.
THE PHARISEE FINDS IT HARD TO SURVIVE IN AN ATMOSPHERE WHICH IS GOD-CENTERED IN ITS FOCUS. THEY NEED THE FOCUS TO BE ON THEM!
11 The greatest among you will be your servant.
LEADERSHIP REVOLUTION!!! EXALTED SERVANTHOOD, THE TRUE KINGDOM PATTERN.
12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
INCREASE YOUR 'RANK' BY DEMOTING YOURSELF.
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.
PHARISEES MAKE IT HARD TO ENTER THE KINGDOM. THEIR NEAR-DEAD BODIES BLOCK THE WAY TO THOSE SEEKING ENTRANCE.
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.
THEY ARE ZEALOUS (CONSIDER SAUL OF TARSUS) TO WIN PEOPLE OVER TO THEIR WAY. THEIR ERRORS ARE MAGNIFIED AND AMPLIFIED AS THEY ARE PASSED ON TO THEIR FOLLOWERS.
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.
PHARISEES ALWAYS FOCUS ON HUMAN EFFORTS AND ENDEAVORS, WHILE COMPLETELY MISSING DIVINE PURPOSE AND INTENTION.
23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. 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.
PHARISEES ARE METICULOUS ABOUT CARRYING OUT THE FINE DETAILS OF THE LAW. THEIR 'SPIRITUAL' LABORS ARE MEASURED TO THE LAST GRAM, BUT THEY CANNOT SEE THE HEART OF THE LAW WHICH BEATS WITHIN IT.
24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
A PHARISEE ALWAYS EXCELS AT NIT-PICKING, WHILE MISSING THE NOSE ON HIS FACE!
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.
THEY SLAP A FRESH COAT OF PAINT ON, TO HIDE THE ROTTEN BOARDS.
26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
TRUE CHANGE BEGINS INWARDLY, AND NATURALLY WORKS OUTWARD.
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.
THE GRASS IS MOWED AND THE WINDOWS ARE WASHED, BUT BEWARE THE KILLER LURKING JUST BEHIND THE CURTAINS!
29 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.
30 And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'
PHARISEES LIKE TO THINK THAT THEY ARE NOT AT ALL LIKE THE PHARISEES OF BYGONE DAYS.
31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.
THEY CAN'T QUITE HIDE WHO THEY REALLY ARE.
32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!
33 "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.
35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
Matt 23:1-35 (NIV)
4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?"
PHARISEES ALWAYS WATCH YOU TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE LIVING CORRECTLY.
6 He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
NO CONNECTION BETWEEN A PHARISEE'S HEART AND MOUTH.
7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'
PHARISEES ARE FOLLOWING THEIR OWN SELF-MADE RELIGION. IT PROFITS NOTHING.
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
9 And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
Mark 7:4-9 (NIV)
THE PHARISEE'S TRADITIONS ALWAYS OVERRULE THE COMMANDS OF GOD.
13 "making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."
Mark 7:13 (NKJV)
THE PHARISEE'S TRADITIONS SUBVERT AND NEUTRALIZE THE COMMANDS OF GOD.
THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST DEADLY ACTIONS OF A PHARISEE, FOR IT IGNORES WHAT GOD HAS SAID, AND PUTS THE TEACHINGS OF MAN IN THE PLACE OF DIVINE REVELATION. I WILL FOCUS MORE ON THIS IN A FUTURE ARTICLE.
FOR NOW, LET ME SAY, YOU HAVE A 'PROFILE' OF A PHARISEE. THE PHARISEE IS NOT AN EXTINCT SPECIES. HE IS ALIVE AND WELL. IN FACT, YOU WILL MEET HIM IN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH, AND, IF YOU ARE HONEST, YOU MAY CATCH A GLIMPSE OF HIM IN YOUR BATHROOM MIRROR FROM TIME TO TIME.
JESUS' HARSHEST WORDS AND FIERCEST BATTLES INVOLVED PHARISEES. FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE IN NOT YIELDING AN INCH TO THEIR DEMANDS. ABIDE IN CHRIST'S WORD. OBEY HIM ALONE. RESIST THE URGE TO PLACE PHARASAICAL BURDENS ON OTHERS. DO NOT GO BEYOND WHAT IS WRITTEN IN SCRIPTURE.
DEATH TO PRIDE, SELF, AND SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. LONG LIVE THE KING OF KINGS!
Reproduction of this article for free distribution is permitted. John Green, azgreens@hotmail.