Thursday, March 29, 2012

Amazing Pharisees

I was reading in the book of Matthew today when I came to chapter 12 where it says:

9Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 11He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

This is one of the many stories involving Jesus that amazes me. But this time, it’s not Jesus doing the amazing, it’s the Pharisees. As you know, the Pharisees were the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day; their word was the last word to the Jews. It was the Pharisee’s job to interpret the Hebrew Scripture and to then tell the common folks how to live.

So here was the Son of God, preforming a miracle right before their very eyes, yet all they could think about was that He was “breaking the rules”! This upset them so much that they began to plan a way to get rid of Jesus, not by running Him out of the country, but by killing Him!

These guys knew about Jesus, meaning they knew that He was the promised Messiah. They knew the scripture and the time frame set out by God’s prophets. They were expecting the Messiah to show Himself at any time. The only problem was that they were looking for a big guy with a big sword who’d kill a bunch of Romans and put the Jews on all the thrones of the world.

What they were starting to realize though, was that the Messiah was establishing a different kind of kingdom – a spiritual kingdom that would include not only the Jews, but the Gentiles as well; and that each member of this kingdom would be a priest of God.

Needless to say, the Pharisees didn’t like this one bit! They didn’t want to lose their place of leadership. They enjoyed being looked up to and being the most important people in the room. To bring it down to ground level, they were selfish, egotistical sinners. Or in other words… you and me.

Aren’t we the same way? When you think about it, there are only three people we care about -- me, myself and I. We are all sinners whose every though is, “How do I please myself?” We are all Pharisees at heart. Even when we are helping others, we do it because it makes us feel good to do so.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will forgive us of all our sins (no matter what they are), and then He will send His Spirit to live in us to teach us, to guide us and to motivate us to help others with unselfish motives.  

Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. He is the One who sacrificed Himself to allow us to become children of God. We are because He is; we owe our every action and thought to Him. I’m a sinner, but I will one day live in heaven in the shadow of my God because of His grace given to me through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. Join me, will you, in this grace and forgiveness, happiness and joy, and eternal life with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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