Characteristics of the Pharisees(1).!!!
Then Jesus spoke to the Multitude and to His Disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted……. Matthew 23:1-11
In our previous studies, We see how Jesus was giving answers to the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Lawyer that came to Him with questions using the wisdom given to Him by the Holy Spirit and we concluded saying we can also receive such wisdom from God if we chose to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and do the Father’s will also. Here we have come to a Chapter that is mainly Dedicated to the Pharisees. Here Jesus tells us the Characteristics of a Pharisee and it is Profitable to examine each deeply to see if we are a Pharisee or a Disciple of the Lord.
Then Jesus spoke to the Multitude and to His Disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do: Jesus said this things to the Multitude and His Disciples because they both need to be warned lest they become a Pharisee themselves. He told them plainly so that they may be on guard so as not to end their lives as a Pharisee. The same applies to us also for it is very easy to become a Pharisee and Yet not know it. And there is a need for us to be warned again and again not to become a Pharisee.
The Pharisees had a couple of good qualities. It was not everything that was wrong with them. For Jesus to have said, “Whatever the Pharisees tell you to do, do”. It means Jesus saw something Good about them. Even Jesus would not say that about some Churches today. Like the Churches that says, “Jesus is not God,” those that says, “Mary is the second Mediator between God and Man” or those that says, “The Keeping of the Sabbath day is the way of Salvation.”. Jesus will never say to us concerning this Group that, “whatever they say to you, do” because their Doctrines are wrong. But the Pharisees have a Correct Doctrine and this is one good quality about the Pharisees. Another good quality He said about them is that, “They clean the outside of the Cup”(Matt 23:25)”. Although their inside was dirty, we have to give credit to them that their outside was clean. Their external life was OK. They keep the Law, they did everything the law commanded on the outside. So these are two good qualities that Jesus Himself noted about them. Their Doctrines were correct and their External Life was clean and upright. Now this two qualities are what most Christians glory in. They claim that their Church Doctrines are correct, they believe that Jesus is God, they don’t pray to Mary, they don’t Baptize Children
,, they don’t keep the Sabbath, they believe in the Holy Spirit and so on. And they also have an upright External life. But these two qualities only makes You a Pharisee, a group that Jesus says to, ” Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?(Matt 23:33)” Can You imagine Jesus entering a Church that has all its Doctrines correct and whose external Life is clean and Yet says to them, “How can you people escape from going to Hell?” what is Jesus looking for then? it is the Inner Life!!! Is your inner life clean? Is the inside of the Cup Clean?. That was what the Lord was looking for then, and that is what He is looking for even Today. So let us stop glorying in the fact that our Doctrines and external lives are right. It is essential but we are not True Christians if we don’t take care of the Inner Life. This is the difference between a Pharisee and a True Christian. A Christian has a Correct Doctrine, a Clean External Life and a Clean inner Life also. So you may ask Yourself which one You are, “A Pharisee or a Disciple?”
But do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do: This is the definition of a Hypocrite. He says things but do not do them. He preaches things He did not practice. They teach but they don’t do. This is the opposite of Jesus method. It was said about Jesus that He first did and then taught(Acts 1:1). You either preach a lot of things you don’t practice it Yourself or you first practice some things and then preach it. We are either following the Pharisees or we are following Jesus. The descendants of the Pharisees are very much in the Church today who preach a lot of things in the pulpit that they don’t practice in their lives. And there are very few who are following Christ who first did and then taught. We must decide never to preach what we have not done in our own lives or what we are not aspiring to do when the time comes.
For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. : The Pharisees are legalistic preacher. They tie heavy load. They preach such high standard and tell people, “You must do this!!” but they never did it themselves. Do you know that a lot of people who preach Tithing never tithe themselves. They tell people to pay tithe but they are absolute Hypocrites who don’t pay it themselves. I don’t believe Tithing is part of new testament teaching at all. It is Abolished with every thing under the Law. Today, we don’t give 10%, we give whatever we are happy to give according to 2 Corinthians 9:7. Which says, “God loves a cheerful giver”. That is the new Covenant teaching. But there are millions of people and Preachers who tell people to tithe but they themselves don’t do it. You ask yourself. Since You are so eager to promote and defend Tithing principles, Do you give 10% of all your Income to God? As in Everything You earn?. Well, even if you do, You are just keeping the Law and I am not under the Law and You will never bring Me into bondage to that. You can bring others who don’t know the New Covenant and their Bible to that but not me. So the Pharisees put unrealistic demands on others on what they have not practiced before. There are even people who preach that You pay the tithe of Your time to God. Since there are 24 hours in a day, You must give 2.4 hours to God. And even if you receive a gift of shoe, you must estimate the price and pay the tithes. Can you imagine!! So I advice you, don’t Allow any of these Hypocrites to put burden on you which they themselves don’t lift with a finger. The Yoke of Jesus is easy and his burden is light(Matt 11:30). The reason why you are weary and heavy and tired in your Christian race is Because you have not looked careful at the New Covenant but just swallow what Preachers tell you. Be wise!!!
But all their works they do to be seen by men: Whenever we do things for men to see us, we are are like the Pharisees. We are to live our lives before God. I am not saying, men would not see us, we can’t help it. But we don’t do it in other that men may see us. This is the point!!! There is a lot of singing and giving that is done so that men may see it. Anytime you find yourself more careful of what people think about you, then you become a Pharisees. Anytime You are careful when people are around you but loose in your attitude to Sin in private, then you are a Pharisee. Let us therefore cleanse ourselves form theses things.
They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.: These were things that were commanded by God. They contain scripture text that these religious people wore on top their forehead. But they made their own broader to show others that they are more spiritual. The desire to appear a little more spiritual than other believers is a characteristic of a Pharisees. It may not be in our Dressing, it can be in some way where we try to show off our spirituality. These desire to be noticed by men. It can be in our Praying or singing just to show that we are spiritually superior.
They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues: They love the place of Honour. They love to be in front where people will notice them. To seat on the platform. They love it. They would be offended if you didn’t give them such a seat. I have seen a Preacher who was offended because His presence was not recognized in a church meeting and he was not called to take a special seat. Are you like that? Do you want a special seat in a ceremony or church? A special seat that lifts you above all the others? People who want respect in the Church and love to be recognized as the Elder or Pastor or Youth President or Choir leader. If you are one like these, then you are not a Christian but a Pharisee.
They Love greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. : They love respectful greetings in the Public. They would never like to be called Brother. They Like to be called, “Rabbi”. Or some other title other than Brother. And there are many titles in Christianity today which are similar to Rabbi. And if there is a desire for a Title in You. You don’t just want to be called a Brother. But you want, Reverend, Doctor, Pastor, Bishop, Junior Pastor, Overseer, Apostle etc. You are not satisfied with Just a Brother, then you are following the Pharisees. Jesus says, “Don’t Be like them!!!” You should not be called Rabbi. What should we be called then? It is very clear. We are all Brothers!!! We are all suppose to be Brothers. This is the only title the Lord has given to us. Do you know how wonderful it is to be called a Brother in the New Covenant? When somebody calls me a Brother, and I call that person a Brother. We are referring to each other as Younger Brother of Jesus Christ who is the Eldest Brother. For He has become the First born among many brothers and Sisters(Romans 8:29). The Brothers and Sisters of Jesus Christ is the highest title You can give to any Human being here on Earth. So if we have any desire for any title more than Brothers and Sisters, we are in Danger of becoming a Pharisees.
Don’t call anyone Your Father!!! Think of that!!! Jesus was not referring to our earthly parent here, but in Church setting and religious group. Jesus was totally against religious title. People could be Spiritual Father but You don’t have to address them as Father. Paul was a Father to the Church at Corinth(1 Corinthians 4:15), and Timothy was His Son in the Lord(1 Timothy 1:2). But He was never called, “Father Paul”. The only reason why they used the Word Apostles at the Beginning of their letters was so that People may recognize that what was written in the Scriptures were the authority of God. But we don’t need it today.
Do we take all these words of Jesus seriously or we just ignore it? Most Christian ignores it a they say, “That is not important”. Well which is the words of Jesus Christ that is not important? Trust in the Lord with all your hearts and lean not on your own understanding. It is better to follow what God’s word says and not use our own reasoning to consider whether something is important or not. Jesus says the one who disobey the least commandments and teaches others to do so will be least in the Kingdom of Heaven(Matt 5:19). So Don’t be called, Teacher, Leader or Father. You may have those functions. God may have given you those gifts but You must remain a Brother. Look at Apostle John who was a great Apostle. See what He spoke concerning Himself in Revelation 1:9,” I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ”. He was the last Apostle that walked with Jesus still alive then and He never addressed Himself as General Overseer or Most Reverend.
But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted: Our attitude must always be that of a Servant. A real Disciple is going to be a Servant to people. There are only two titles God has given us. Which are, “Brothers or Servant”. And we must be both in our relationship with others. We must be Brothers and we must be servants. We must not take upon ourselves a title that elevates us above other Brothers. We may have an important function like an Apostle, Prophet or Teacher but we must remain a Brother. You may say, “Well this title does not matter but Jesus says it is a way of exalting oneself. If this matter of titles in Christianity is not serious, then Jesus would not have spent a lot of time on this Matter. Look at Christianity today and see the titles Preachers take. Do you think it is God’s will? I am not here to judge anyone. I am only asking you to compare it with God’s word in the Scriptures. The Great Commission is to “Go and make Disciples and teach them ALL that Jesus taught and teach them to obey it(Matt 28:20). These are the things Jesus taught. Like a Wise man once said,” What You say does not matter will become Matters arising at the Judgement seat of Christ”
Dear Friend, Don’t seek for Honour in Christianity. Don’t seek to impress anyone. Don’t say, “If I don’t call Him by that Title,” He will be offended”. Do you want to offend Jesus then? Don’t Allow Yourself to be called any other title aside from Brother or Sister. Stand on your ground. Choose to follow what Jesus taught. Don’t be influenced by what You see around You. Compare everything with God’s word. May the Lord give us Grace to align our lives with the Teachings of Jesus.(Amen). God bless you. Have a blessed day.
#Everyday with Jesus.