Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Pharisees don't get it
It was true in the days of Jesus, and it has been true ever since; Pharisees don’t get the Good News.
Oh they hear the Good News. They supposedly “share” the Good News. But they just don’t get it. So if you are depending on a pharisee to explain the message of Jesus (i.e. Gospel, or literally “good news”) to you, then you aren’t getting it either.
Pharisees were the religious leaders, the keepers of the Biblical law in Jesus’ day. These are the people who brought the woman caught in adultery before Jesus, hoping to be able to stone her to death. Sound familiar? It should. These people are alive and well..., not well, today. They crush people with unbearable religious demands. They put the focus on you, and your performance, or lack of it. Pharisees equal religion.
Historically it has been the adulterer, the drunk, the cheat, the jacked-up who get it, and the moralist, the Leave It To Beaver mother types who don’t get it. The difference between those who get it and those who don’t is, the latter still believe that if they just try harder they can do it. They can meet the standard. They can live the righteous, pure, obedient life. (Although the dirty little secret is that these people continually fail also.) The former have come to the end of themselves. They have given up trying harder. They understand that they continually don’t meet the standard, and are desperately crying for help. It’s only when we come to the end of ourselves that we come to the beginning of God’s grace.
For too long, the pharisees have used a bait and switch technique to get people into their ranks. The bait and switch technique claims “come as you are” in the beginning, but then quickly switches to heavy-handed rules, requirements, and regulations to maintain acceptance. If you are the one caught red-handed, the one struggling, this doesn’t sound like good news. That’s because it isn’t. It is possible that these people honestly don’t understand that everything changed at the cross when Jesus said “It is finished.”
The actual, almost too good to be true news is that the righteous requirements have been met on your behalf. You really can come as you are. You can stay, continually accepted even if you need “fixing” (read: healing). The onus for changing you is on another who is greater than you. The focus is on the One greater than you. The burden is light. Really.
Jesus did not come so that you might become a good little boy or girl. He came so that you would have life. Abundant, eternal life.
Jesus didn’t promote religion, He confronted it.
Jesus didn’t come as the great teacher, He came as the final, complete sacrifice for your sin.
Jesus isn’t your example to live up to, He is your redeemer.
Put your trust not in yourself, but in Him.
Maybe someday you will get the chance to share this Good News with a pharisee.