Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jesus, Pharisees and Whores

the following is my newest piece for my church's newsletter...

Because I have been studying John with the youth on Wednesday night and reading in Matthew as part of my daily Bible reading plan I have been thinking a lot about Jesus’ “relationship” with the Pharisees and the other religious leaders of the day. The religious leaders obviously did not like Jesus. They said he cast out demons because he worked for Satan and that he ate far too much and was a drunk. Oh yeah, and they wanted to kill him. Jesus called them a bunch of vipers, blind guides, hypocrites, thieves, wolves and the offspring of the devil. You could say their relationship was strained at the very least. But what is so amazing is how he treated tax collectors and whores. He was known as their friend by the religious leaders. You cannot help but read the gospels and not walk away thinking Jesus preferred the company of the marginalized and disreputable. Don’t get me wrong, he called them both to repentance. But he reserved all his name-calling and harsh words for the religious leaders. The following is a list of some of my thoughts about all of this.

1. If I am honest I can identify far more easily with the religious leaders. I wish I was more like the whore who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair “for she loved much.” But I am far more like the Pharisee who is incredulous that Jesus would allow her to do such a thing.

2. Who would you be comfortable with at a party; the religious leaders and Pharisees or the tax collectors and women who are sleeping around? I am afraid I know my own answer.

3. There seems to be no hint of Jesus looking down on the sinners even though he alone had the right to do so. After all, he was perfect. However, the same cannot be said for the Pharisees. Their lives seem to be characterized by looking down on others. Jesus reserves such scorn for the Pharisees because of their self righteousness.

4. The life and death of Jesus ooze a graciousness towards the undeserving I rarely see in myself or others.

5. 2000 years later Jesus is still freaking out Pharisees.

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