Summary: Jesus defines the nature of true spirituality
Contaminated By Grace
Series: Markers Along the Narrow Way
November 11, 2012
READ Mark 2:13-27
Let me ask you a question…when you think about the Pharisees, do you have a negative reaction or a positive reaction? Most of the time when we hear the word Pharisee…we have these images of hypocritical, narrow-minded, puffed up religious snobs! But actually, in Jesus day to be seen as a Pharisee was a GOOD thing, not a bad thing. In fact, in Jesus’ day…if someone called you a “Pharisee”, it would be seen as a compliment, not a slam. 1st century Pharisees were everything we would admire in our most spiritual Christians. They were zealous for God…committed to their faith, they knew the bible inside out, and obeyed everything they knew. They practiced the spiritual disciplines like praying, and fasting and going to church services. They would be every pastor’s dream of the perfect church member! Yeah, they were a little bit over the top sometimes…but just like in our churches today…because they’re more committed than anyone else in the church... many times we make them leaders!
So if the Pharisees were so good and righteous…what happened? I mean, how did they end up on the wrong side of Jesus and become the ultimate villains in all the gospel stories? 2 words…2 words caused the Pharisees to end up on the wrong side of God. And those 2 words are…1. comparison and 2. pride. And if we’re not real careful…the same thing can happen to you and me. You ever see those guys on TV or on the street corner with the sign that says…”Turn or Burn”? and wonder…what happened to them? Or maybe it’s a pompous coworker or neighbor with a big Bible on his desk, a chip on his shoulder and a teeny weeny little heart…who everyone trys to avoid. How did these “Jerks for Jesus” get like that? For a lot of people, they fear becoming a Christian, because they’re afraid they’re going to turn into that guy!
And if you’re not real careful… you WILL become like that guy or gal. They’re what you might call, “Accidental Pharisees’. Accidental Pharisees are people just like you and me…people who love God, love the bible and are trying their best to live up to it. But it’s like eating at Denny’s. Nobody actually plans to eat dinner there… you just accidently end up there. Ever notice that? The journey to becoming an accidental Pharisee starts out innocent…maybe it’s a conference, or a powerful book, could be a new bible study…or a message series. It grabs you so much (that with H.S. help) you step out and make some big changes. You get more committed to God than you’ve ever been in your entire life (and that’s a good thing).
But here’s the problem…as you surge ahead, growing spiritually at breakneck speed…you begin to notice that the people around you aren’t moving as fast as you are. In fact, they start to lag behind! And as you look at them something dangerous happens…you begin to compare their growth and passion with yours. Eventually you even start to get frustrated with your friends, other church members, even pastors…who don’t share your passion and zeal. Now here’s where it gets really scary…if you let it…your frustration will turn into disgust and disdain for people who aren’t meeting up to your own standards of devotion. At this point PRIDE kicks in… and instead of becoming more like Jesus…(full of mercy, kindness, compassion and patience)…you become more like his archenemies …arrogant, pious, & confident in your own righteousness. Fewer and fewer people will measure up to your definition of what a TRUE disciple is. Finally your metamorphosis will be complete. You’ll become a full-fledged Pharisee!
Now listen, because here’s the deceptive thing…As long as I see a Pharisee as a spiritual loser, an enemy of Jesus, I’ll never recognize the danger of becoming one in my own life! You don’t think it’s possible…but believe me…it is. In fact, as a person who loves God with all my heart…I can testify to how easy it is to be come an accidental Pharisee. A lot of pastor’s have become just that. In fact, I spoke to a pastor recently who said that after years, they’ve been successful at driving out all the people in his church that cause him all the problems…(the alcoholics, the adulterers, the people with marital issues, people on drugs…you know…all the “problem makers”) and “Now” he said, “…finally…all we have left are a core of the mature Christians”. He was excited about that! But wait…aren’t the people he successfully got rid of, the ones we’re supposed to be reaching?
In the passage I read this morning, it’s Jesus vs. the Pharisees. 3 times, Jesus is confronted by them about disputes they had with Him regarding Jewish ritual laws and customs. Each argument starts with a question (which challenges Jesus’ spiritually)…and ends with a response by Jesus. (can you imagine becoming so pompous that you challenge the spirituality of Jesus?), But each time Jesus answers, he defines for them what TRUE spiritually really is.