The last of the three personalities Jesus often tackled was represented by the Pharisees.
The word “Pharisees” literally means “the separated ones”. The Pharisees were the most influential of all the Jewish religious class (the Sadducee and the Scribes) of Jesus’ day. They were the strictest observers and enforcers of the Laws, who pledged themselves to obey and observe all the countless restrictive rules, traditions and ceremonial laws of Orthodox Judaism.
Being the custodian of the law and ordinances, they ensured that all the countless restrictive rules, traditions and ceremonial laws were observed by those permitted to observe them.
Some of the notable sacrifices and ordinances the Pharisees kept and practiced included:
Tithing – Lev. 27:30-34; Deut 12:1-19;14:22-29; 26:12-13; Mal. 3:8-10; Mathew 23:23; BurntOffering – Leviticus 1; 6:8-13; 8:18-21; 16:24; Malachi 3:8; GrainOffering – Leviticus 2; 6:14-23; Malachi 3:8; PeaceOffering – Leviticus 3; 7:11-34; Malachi 3:8 ; SinOffering – Leviticus 4; 5:1-13; 6:24-30; 8:14-17; 16:3-22; Malachi 3:8; TrespassOffering – Leviticus 5:14-19; 6:1-7; 7:1-6; Malachi 3:8; Firstfruits Offering – Leviticus 23:10, 17; Malachi 3:8.
There were hundreds of other ordinances strictly kept by the Scribes, taught and enforced by the Pharisees and practiced or expected to be practiced by all the Jews who were permitted to do so. Jesus mandated all His listeners to observe all these ordinances as taught by the Pharisees; Jesus also warned His listeners to not act like the Pharisees who do not do what they preach – Matthew 23:3.
John called the Pharisees and the Sadducee brood of vipers – Mathew 3:7; Luke 3:7. Adders / Vipers use venom to immobilize prey and after striking their prey, they will leave the venom to take effect before following the victim’s scent to find the body. This is an economical way of hunting, avoiding any damage that could be caused by struggling with prey BBC Fact Files.
John the Baptist called the Pharisees and the Sadducee brood of vipers for the same reasons Jesus placed hefty curses on them and called them hypocrites, blind guides and serpents in – Matthew 23:13-29; Matthew 23:2-35.
The Pharisees bind heavy burdens that are grievous to carry, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers; all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments; they love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues; they cherish greetings in the markets and love to be called of men, Rabbi! Rabbi! – Matthew 23:4-7. Jesus warned us not be like them and live a low profile life.
The Pharisees and Scribes exalt themselves and shut up the kingdom of heaven against people; while the Pharisees and Scribes do not go in (Kingdom of Haven), they make it very difficult for others to go in (Kingdom of Haven). The scribes and Pharisees, devour widows’ houses, and for pretense make long prayers; the scribes and Pharisees travel sea and land to make one new convert, and when they are made, the scribes and Pharisees make the new convert twofold more the child of hell than the scribes and Pharisees themselves – Matthew 23:12-15.
Review these words from Jesus alongside the life of many 21st century believers and see the connection with our disconnection from the Head of the body of the LORD.
Jesus had previously cautioned: ‘unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees one cannot inherit the Kingdom of Haven’ – Mathew 5:20. Righteousness is needed but not the Pharisaical type. Not only that this type righteousness was based on a set of restrictive rules, traditions and ceremonial laws of Orthodox Judaism, the Pharisees stood for what Jesus stood against – Mathew 23:1-35. Jesus desires mercy, not sacrifices, the Pharisees desired sacrifices and not mercy – Hosea 6:6; Matthew 23:23; Matthew 9:13.
Including Paul before his conversion, they felt justified for strictly following the Laws and the rules,which they were in full control of. The young rich ruler had the same impression having remained committed to all the ordinances and the Laws from his youth. The implication was, when his Creator – John 1:3-8 offered him a salvation condition, the young rich ruler frowned upon his own salvation! – Mark 10:17-27. We still do the same today.
Because Jesus came, righteousness became His prerogative. To exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees one has to believe in Jesus Christ John 3:16. Righteousness is accepting Jesus – Romans 4. If we accept Jesus and abide by His terms and conditions, we have believed in Him and will likewise inherit the God’s eternal Kingdom John 14:15-23.
This temperament eluded most of the scribes and Pharisees and still elude many of us today; not only they hated (as many of us still hate) Jesus; they did not (as many of us do not) believe in Jesus and thus wanted (as many of us want) Jesus ensnared and eliminated out of our lives and in our midst even at our detriment and our followers.
One last note: ‘Quit your worship charades. I can’t stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings meetings, meetings, meetingsI can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn me out! I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance, I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evil doings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless’ Isaiah 1:13-17 (MSG)
May God be the glorified! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DdgkvnsHjM