No Pretense #likeJesus

What is a Pharisee?  How do we know if we’re in danger of becoming like one?

There is no better phrase to describe the Pharisees than the one we read in Luke 20:20-26.

They were those “who pretended to be righteous.” 

As things heated up with His opposition, Jesus stayed away from Jerusalem because His time had not yet come.  But after telling His disciples repeatedly that He would go to Jerusalem and die, and now being in Jerusalem, He held nothing back.  Jesus said what needed to be said the the Pharisees, even though it would infuriate them and lead to His death.

In Mt 21, Mk 11 and Luke 19, Jesus confronted the wickedness and hypocrisy of the religious leaders by cleansing the temple.  He began His public ministry turning tables and chasing out money changers (extorters), and here He does it a second time.

The Pharisees and Herodians try to trap Him with a question about paying the despised poll tax.  He asked for a coin, points out Caesar’s image, and says “give to Caesar was is Caesar’s.”  Such wisdom!  The people marvel.

The Sadducees see the Pharisees’ failure, so they gave it a try.  They asked Jesus a question about marriage in the resurrection (they didn’t believe in the resurrection).  Again, His answer was  full of wisdom.  The multitudes were astonished.

Where did this kind of wisdom come from?  Remember Luke 2:52, “He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  Jesus had a growing wisdom because He immersed Himself in Scripture and spent hours in communion with the Father in prayer.

Next, a Scribe (a lawyer) and a Pharisee tried to trap him.  “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?”  Rabbis had determined there were 613 commandments contained in the Law.  John MacArthur notes that the origin of the number 613 was that there was one command for each letter of the 10 commandments (interesting).   There were 248 affirmative and 365 negative commands.  They were divided into heavy and light categories, with the heavy ones being more binding.  However, the Rabbis couldn’t agree on the list of what was heavy and what was light.  This was how they were trying to trap Jesus.  Get Him to take sides.

Again, Jesus answered wisely.  Love God. Love people.  Surprisingly, no one else dared to ask another “challenging” question.

So Jesus then had a question of his own.  “Whose Son is the Christ?”  The Pharisees believed the Messiah would be a mere man.  They replied, “The Son of David.”

And here’s the crux of why they wanted to kill him.  It’s what Jesus says next.  “David himself said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord…'”  Two different words are used for Lord here.  Yahweh, all caps, was God’s covenant name.  Then the second “Lord” was a title the Jews used for God.  This phrase was taken from a Messianic Psalm, and Jesus used it to point out that God the Father (LORD) is speaking to the Messiah, God the Son (Lord).  They considered Jesus’ claims of Deity to be blasphemy, worthy of death.

And so, the Pharisees were those “who pretended to be righteous.”  Isn’t that the whole point of his “woes” in Mt 23, Mk 12 and Lk 20.

What does it look like to pretend to be righteous?

  • You’re more concerned about what people think than what God thinks.
  • You might do the “right things,” but your motive is pride rather than love.
  • You justify yourself by your actions without consideration of your heart.
  • You justify your actions by the results (the ends justify the means).
  • You twist scripture to make it say what you want it to say, so you only see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear.

So that’s what a Pharisee looks like?  What do I see when I look in the mirror?  Can any of that ever be said of me?  Unfortunately, I think the honest answer is “yes.”  But isn’t that the first step away from being a Pharisee…  seeing the truth about ourself.

Father, I want to put heart first.  I don’t want it to ever be said of me that I was one “who pretended to be righteous!”

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Unconventional Love #likeJesus

“See how He loved him!”

The Jews who were there to mourn with Martha and Mary over the death of their brother Lazarus could see the depth of Jesus’ love for His friend.

“See how He loved him!”

But then why did He wait two days after learning of Lazarus’ illness before going to Bethany?  Mary and Martha sent word, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”  Jesus’ love for Lazarus was evident to them also.

“See how He loved him!”

Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

John writes, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days…”

It appears it was because of His love that He stayed, allowing Lazarus to die.  How could allowing a friend to suffer to the point of death be an act of love?  Jesus prized the glory of God, the strengthening of faith and the belief in Christ as Savior above the temporary reprieve from pain and death.

Temporary reprieve?  Lazarus would be raised from the dead, for Jesus said this sickness would “not end in death.”  But it was a temporary reprieve.  After all, Jesus said only that “this sickness” would not end in death.  He did not say Lazarus would be spared of death altogether.

“See how He loved him!”

He loved His disciples, allowing them to experience the glory and power of this resurrection to strengthen there faith and see His power over death before He faces the cross.

He loved Martha and Mary, giving them an opportunity to affirm their belief in Him as Messiah and Lord, even when things weren’t going as they’d hoped.  “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

“See how He loved him!”

“Lazarus, come forth!”  Lazarus became a walking, talking miracle.  His life was given greater purpose.  It was given back to him that he might proclaim the wonders of his Savior.  Many believed in Christ as a result of Lazarus.  Many came to see the walking “dead man” to see if it was true.  The Jews wanted to kill Lazarus to silence the talk about this miracle.  Talk about a powerful testimony!

“See how He loved him!”

I want people to look at my life and say that about Jesus.  I want them to see His love for me in how I treat others.  I want them to see His love for me in how I respond to adversity.  I want them to see His love for me in how I boldly trust Him and walk in faith.

“See how he loved Him!”

“See how He loves ME!”

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Narrow-Minded #likeJesus

Have you ever been accused of being narrow-minded?  Is that a bad thing?  When eternity is hanging in the balance, narrow-mindedness might be necessary.

Who did Jesus come to save?  When we look back,  the answer seems clear…  For God so loved the world!   But to those living in first century Israel, what was their expectation?

The Jewish belief was that the Messiah would come to save the entire nation of Israel.  Theirs was a very “nationalistic” perspective.  The only Jews that would be excluded from salvation would be notorious sinners:  murderers, tax collectors, prostitutes.  Everyone but them would be saved.

Jesus went back to Jerusalem for another feast.  A few months earlier, it was the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) in September.  Now He’s there again, this time for the Feast of Dedication (or Lights) in December.  We also call this Hanukkah.

The Jews wanted to kill Him.  They picked up stones to stone him, because he, a mere man, claimed to be God.  He called himself the Good Shepherd.  Think of David’s words in Psalm 23.  “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  Because of their hostility, Jesus left Jerusalem and crossed over the Jordan to the region where John had been baptizing.

Maybe it’s in response to the hostility He has faced.  Maybe it’s because of the large crowd of followers.  At this point, Jesus makes it clear that not all will be saved.  In fact, many who think they’re in- after all, they’re not murderers, tax collectors or prostitutes- will be out.

He’s asked directly, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”  It’s likely the questioner didn’t have spiritual salvation in mind, but rather rescue from their oppressors from Rome.

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try and enter and not be able to.”

“I don’t know you or where you come from.  Away from Me, all you evil doers.”

Jesus’ message here in Luke 13 mirrors His words from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7.

The Jewish perspective on salvation, that all would be saved except the worst of the worst, sounds awfully familiar.

Jesus makes the standard clear here and in Matthew 7.  It’s not who you are or what you have or haven’t done…  that’s “wide path” thinking.  It’s who KNOWS you…  that’s “narrow path” thinking.  It’s in the knowing, of and by Christ, that we find salvation.  God’s Law is not the path.  He Himself is the narrow path.

“I am the way!”

So, who do I know that thinks they know but doesn’t know, and do I care enough to point them to the narrow path so they can know?

 

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM