Matthew 16:12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread. Rather, it was against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Understanding the ministry of Jesus is tremendously important if you are not to be confused. Jesus was known as a Rabbi which means a teacher of the Law. He was also technically an old testament prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18). These prophets were sent to warn Israel of their coming destruction, if they didn’t repent and return to the Law. Jesus foretold of the grace to come in the New Covenant.
Another area that Jesus was actively involved in, was in his disagreements with the religious leaders of his day.
What is a Pharisee
- A Pharisee is one who adheres to all the spoken and unspoken religious rules.
- He appears good in the eyes of himself and others.
- He’s a highly moral individual who champions the causes against sin and esteems to maintain his understanding of holy living.
- Pharisees think they are doing a service to God,
- They also believe they are doing a service to society by pointing out all the apparent evils.
But Jesus has something against them, and this was the theme of his ministry towards them. They boasted in their religious services more than in the people they were told to love. Keeping the Sabbath was more important to them, than doing good on the Sabbath to a man whose hand was withered (Mark 3:1-6).
The apparent blasphemy of Jesus Christ, telling a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven, completely outweighed the healing the man received (Mark 2:1-12). This is why Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
The first two passersby to witness the man half-dead was a priest and a Levite.
Both the Priest and Levite did what was scriptural and required of them in their understanding. For this man to be beaten and left for dead, he must be cursed and getting his just reward for breaking the law (Deuteronomy 28). It was forbidden for them to touch that which was cursed or unclean (Leviticus 7:21).
The Good Samaritan
But the Samaritan saw a person in need instead of a religious obligation. He, finding compassion in his heart and not a rule, took the man and cared for him. And this at his own expense!
The Pharisees hold their standards above people, dehumanizing them in the process. They went so far as to call Jesus the Prince of devils. This was to maintain control over the people, and their own way of life. That is the heart of a Pharisee.
This same spirit is in the church TODAY
Now while my example rings through-out the Scriptures, we encounter this same spirit within the Church.
I remember talking with a young Christian lady, who had an interest in a guy and was exploring the relationship opportunities. In the midst of the conversation, one of her friends piped up about how the guy moved from church to church, and wasn’t settled in one congregation. I watched to see her reaction.
As a look of despair came over her face, the young lady explained, well if that’s what he’s doing, then that means trouble. She had all but disqualified him based on a rumor and his failure to meet her unspoken standards upon this guy. So I responded to this by saying, “What’s wrong with him wanting to go from Church to Church? At least He’s in church and not going from strip club to strip club? Before you disqualify him on your unspoken rules, why not speak to him, and see if he’s a good man?”
Christians do not divorce over not going to church
I explained, “Just because someone is settled in a church, isn’t a guarantee of anything either. One does not marry a person’s church attendance, neither do Christians divorce over not going to church or doctrinal differences. The issue should be, does this person share a positive attitude towards the relationship and optimism to be willing to fight for that future?”
My point to her was, if the relationship was not to be, let it be because of his character that she took time to know, rather than speculations and unspoken expectations.
While she was willing to disqualify this guy because he didn’t adhere to the strict church attendance rule she held in her heart, she never took the time to see the person or learn of what makes him do the things he does.
This is the ministry Jesus came to undo among the Pharisee and warned his disciples to look out for among his Church.
Mana and Mercy, talking about Not Everything Biblical is Christ-Like.
Not Everything Biblical is Christ-Like from Manna and Mercy on Vimeo.