READ MATTHEW 23:1-15
The Pharisees came from a long line of religious tradition and strict adherence to the law of the God of Abraham. Jesus spent much of His youth in their temples filling His mind with the writings, the laws written by His Father’s hand. He already knew them, but his humanity demanded it. These men of the church would later call Jesus a blasphemer and subject Him to torture, humiliation and execution for His radical ideas. Change is difficult, especially when you’ve been steeped in legalism forever.
When Jesus arrived on the scene, the church was one of His greatest enemies. Things haven’t changed much, have they?
Has the modern day church become like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time? It’s sad to think of this happening, but in many organized religions it has. We become so wrapped up in the law of God’s Word and traditions of days gone by, that we sometimes forget what God’s purpose is for His children. To be healed and forgiven from the grip of sin. We then, in return should be so grateful that we can’t contain our joy. Our joy, instilled through our Savior, leads us to telling others and continuing to follow Him.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission to His disciples, He didn’t tell them to be selective. In fact He spent time with those who needed Him most. If He had been like the teachers of His time, He would insist on following the letter of the law to a T. There would be no prostitutes – no tax collectors – no Samaritans – no thieves, liars, politicians or sinners of any kind. In other words, the church would be empty.
It’s easy to look at this group of religious leaders of Jesus’ time and make judgment, but we often do the same thing when we react to how people dress, how they act, sing, pray, whatever. The body of the church is made up of sinners. We’re all guilty of not following God’s commandments. We’ve fallen short of what’s expected of us. We make mistakes, we lie, we judge, we gossip, we use God’s name in the wrong way, we don’t serve others, we don’t live the life that Jesus led during His time on earth. The first step towards redemption is knowing our need for a Savior.
Lord, I know I am unworthy of the grace you’ve so freely given. It’s your love was poured out for all people, even those who don’t realize they need it. Help me to remember that I have an obligation to share that wonderful news. You loved me first, now let me pass that gift on to others so they can share in the paradise to come. Amen!