Summary: To call people to a true and living faith.
A True Faith
Primary Purpose: To call people to a true and living faith
When you think of a Pharisee, what comes to mind? You don’t think of someone fun and enjoyable to be around. Most of us think of someone like Jesus encountered: stern, legalistic, cruel, rigid and judgmental. Even though, Jesus spent much time around those who were very sinful (Luke 15:1). Jesus had his sternest words for those Pharisees. F.B. Meyer’s has said of the Pharisees, “in those old Jewish days the Pharisees represented some of the noblest traditions of the Hebrew people. Amid the prevailing indifference the Pharisees stood for the strict religious life…. Amid the lax morals of the time, which infected Jerusalem almost as much as Rome, the Pharisees was austere in his ideals, and holy in life.” Yet Jesus condemned them. (Read Scripture)
Because Jesus condemned them, we need to understand what they condemned. I think of them as the ones most to be pitied. They thought they were walking correctly, yet they didn’t know God. They didn’t indulge the flesh or please the spirit. They chained themselves down with laws and rules they couldn’t keep and pretended they could.
1. An unexamined life. The Pharisees was more concerned with outer appearances than motive or their thought life. They thought that they could think what they liked, so long as their actions were okay. They forgot what was really important. Jesus said they had wickedness in their hearts, yet they appeared religious.
He made free use of the Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessings of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed them his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Who was he? Adolf Hitler
In a sense, the Pharisees were trying to manipulate God into accepting them by outer appearances. Jesus called them a whitewashed tomb.
The Queen Mary was the largest ship to cross the oceans when it was launched in 1936. Through four decades and a World War she served until she was retired, anchored as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California.
During the conversion process, her three massive smokestacks were taken off to be scraped down and repainted. But on the dock they crumbled. Nothing was left of the ¾ inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed. All that remained were more than 30 coats of paint. The steel had rusted away. When Jesus called the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs”, he meant they had no substance, only an exterior appearance. They were frauds.
Jesus calls us to a new birth, to a change of heart. He clearly tells us that we have fallen short of the grace and glory of God
2. A lack of love towards others and God. The Pharisees gave generously because they felt obligated. Yet, they didn’t give themselves to others or to God. They neglected what was most important. God calls us to love Him and put him first. Paul came to understand this when he said that if he delivered his body up to be burned and didn’t have love then it didn’t profit him anything. They loved the most important seats in the synagogue but they didn’t love him.
They went to the extent of having Pilate come out to them, so they could avoid becoming ceremonially unclean. Yet, they were in the process of trying to have a man murdered.
This should be our prayer that God would give us a new heart heart to know God and that we will turn to him with all our hearts. (Jer 24:7) Our problem is a heart problem.
3. Their love of the attention of men. They desired the respect of men. Jesus called them unmarked graves. That doesn’t mean much to us. A grave of any kind or anything death could make a Jewish person unclean in Jesus day. This uncleanness would make it so that they couldn’t participate in the religious ceremonies until they under went a cleansing. Jesus was saying that contact with the Pharisees made people unclean and unfit for worship. Not only were the Pharisees not saved or helping others to be saved, but they were actually a hindrance.