The Pharisees, not having been baptized by John ~ in other words, not having found repentance and therefore rejecting John’s baptism ~ were therefore totally unprepared to receive the Messiah or His message when He came on the scene.
Let me give you an illustration from a recent event in my own life. I recently noticed a sort of shadow coming down over the top of my right eye. When I went to Dr. Cole, here in town, he examined me and sent me to a specialist in Grand Junction.
Now, I did not know what that specialist would have to do to correct the problem. I only knew that Dr. Cole said I had a detached retina, and that he could not fix it in his office, but that Dr. Waterhouse in Grand Junction might be able to. So I went to Grand Junction, prepared to receive treatment from Dr. Waterhouse, because having believed Dr. Cole’s diagnosis and putting my trust in him prepared my mind to receive also from the only one who could repair my eye.
If I had rejected Dr. Cole’s message and refused to go to the specialist in Grand Junction, I would now be blind in my right eye.
The Pharisees were very religious. They were very faithful to their interpretation of the Mosaic Law, and all their traditions.
Later on, Paul was able to assert confidently that as a Pharisee he was “...advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” (Gal 1:14)
Where they failed; a failure that would preclude them from receiving their Messiah, was that they refused to repent. They found no place for repentance.
They had a form of religion; a religion of regulations and ordinances that called for their strict obedience...but no recognition of their basic need.
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