Friday, December 21, 2007
The Pharisees Missed Jesus
The Pharisees missed Jesus. They were supposed to know the scriptures, and they should have seen how the scriptures pointed to Jesus. Yet, though there are exceptions like the Pharisee Nicodemus, the Pharisees as a whole let Jesus slip through their bloody hands. Paul wrote about taking hold of that for which Jesus took hold of us (Phil 3:12). The Pharisees could have taken hold of Jesus in faith; instead, the signs and scripture that should have convinced them of his identity went right over their heads.
Why? Why would a group of religious leaders be so clueless about Jesus? I think the answer lies in the first encounters that they had with matters regarding Jesus. I say “matters regarding Jesus” because Jesus’ cousin, and more importantly, his forerunner John the Baptist, confronted the Pharisees (he called them poisonous snakes; Matt 3:7) with the need to repent. It would seem they didn’t appreciate the rebuke. And then, John pointed to Jesus as the one to follow. They were not likely to follow anyone recommended by John.
A subsequent encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees was in the vicinity of Matthew’s house. Jesus was there associating with tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees stood on such high moral ground that they couldn’t believe that Jesus was associating with these people of low moral fiber. “Evil companions…,” they thought.
Maybe there are a lot of us who are a lot like the Pharisees. I don’t deal with rebuke very well. I’m not one who retaliates with cross-rebuke; but some of you do. I have a tendency instead to think that if someone sees something wrong in me, something must be wrong with their eyesight. Others walk out of a room or out of life when they are confronted with wrongdoing. Furthermore, there those of us who have grown up believing that something was right or that something was wrong; and we have seen in the life of Jesus or read in his teaching that he believed just the opposite. Our values actually keep us from the life of greatest value. Jesus really is the Truth.
Don’t miss Jesus due to some Pharisee DNA. If you’ve been rebuked by Jesus, repent and live. If you see something in the life of Jesus that challenges your perception of truth, investigate with an open mind and heart to see the world though his eyes – the eyes of the “one and only who came from the Father full of grace and truth (John 1:14).