Summary: Jesus despised the Pharisees. But why? These guys were simply trying to please God by honoring His rules. What was it about them that angered God so much and how do we avoid becoming like them?
About the worst thing you can call somebody in Church is to say they are a “Pharisee”. The Pharisees were THE “bad guys” in scripture and seemed to always be the main group that Jesus singled out as examples of who His followers were NOT to be like.
I don’t want to be a Pharisee.
How many of you would not want to be a Pharisee? (Ask for a show of hands)
But apparently we could become like them if we are not careful.
Someone put together a list of danger signs to know whether or not you've become a modern day Pharisee:
YOU MIGHT BE A PHARISEE IF…
Your official title is longer than your given name.
You’re willing to be merciful – once.
You have two dogs named “Faithful” and “True”… and they’re both killer pit bulls.
Everyone outside your immediate circle, and most within it, are wrong.
God’s still small voice… sounds exactly like you.
You know the Word of God, but not the God of the Word.
Back in the days of Jesus the Pharisees were the bad guys and Jesus was always giving them a hard time. So I don’t want to be a Pharisee. I don’t want to make Jesus mad.
I want to be a Christ follower. I want to pick up my cross daily and follow Him. I want Jesus to look at me on the Day of Judgment and say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
In fact we used to have a song about that at Church Camp.
“Don’t want to be a Pharisee
Don’t want to be a Pharisee
Cause they’re not Fair you see
Don’t want to be a Pharisee”
(From the song “I wanna be a Sheep, Baa Baa”)
Now why sing the song?
Because there are people who end up being Pharisees.
You see, the Pharisees of Jesus day had started out wanting TO PLEASE God. They began in a day when Israel was deeply tainted with immorality and unrighteousness and somebody needed to stand in the gap. And the Pharisees stepped up to fill that need. And in an era where many Jews had abandoned the rules and laws of God, the Pharisees became like prophets to their people pointing people back to the Law of Moses and obedience to God’s Will.
They wanted to obey every one of God’s commands, and if God wasn't clear enough on what He wanted they created a whole bunch of new commands so that they’d make sure they didn't miss anything.
They were the equivalent of modern day church goers who seriously want to please Jesus. These Pharisees were THE religious people of the day and they took their “faith” seriously.
Any time people take their faith seriously, they can step over the line from pleasing God to disobeying Him by becoming like the Pharisees of Jesus day. So we want to be careful WE don’t do that too.
I want to stress here: the Pharisees didn't set out to try to make God angry. They didn't wake up every morning thinking: “I’m going to make God mad today!”
But they had made Him angry
Why? What had they gotten so wrong that they actually did make God furious with them?
Well, our text this morning points out 3 of the traps that warped the Pharisees thinking:
1. Rules became more important than people.
2. THEIR agenda became God’s agenda (at least in their thinking)
3. They believed their personal sins could be covered up as long as they kept their rules.
So we’re going to take these one at a time:
1st The Pharisees saw their RULES as really important. And people became Unimportant.
When the Pharisees brought this adulterous woman to Jesus… they didn't care about her. A rule had been broken. She needed to be exposed. And, in reality they had no intention of stoning her… she was just a prop.
In fact, they couldn't stone her. Only Rome could do that.
You see, once Rome conquered Judah, Judah became a Roman territory, and under Roman law, only the Roman governors had the authority to condemn people to death. You only have to look at the Crucifixion of Jesus to see that truth.
Do you remember who’s approval the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law needed to have Jesus executed? That’s right – Pilate. He was the Roman Governor at the time.
So when the Pharisees brought this woman to Jesus… she was only a tool. She was the object lesson they wanted to use to get at Jesus. Because they really hated Jesus.
In verses 3-5 we’re told they “… brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do YOU say?’”