Summary: This sermon examines the Pharisee’s and Jesus’ encounter with them and the Teachers of the Law, then compares them with Christians today.
Title: Six Woes
Text: Luke 11:37-54
Date: March 2, 2008
Location: Sulphur Spring Baptist Church
Verse 37 tells us that a Pharisee invited Jesus to share a meal with him and a few of his friends. Jesus agreed to the man’s generous offer, but almost immediately entering the man’s home Jesus began to say and do things that offended the man and his friends. We normally think about Jesus as being a very loving, caring and compassionate man, and He was. But He was also a man that had no patience when it came to religious ritual and hypocrisy. So He took this opportunity to tell the Pharisees exactly what He thought about them. Of course that didn’t go over very well with the Pharisees, and from that day on they started looking for a way to get rid of Jesus once and for all.
Most of you may have at least heard about the Pharisees before but I’m sure the majority of you really don’t know who they were or what they believed. So let me take just a few minutes and give you a little information about them.
The Pharisees were the Religious Fundamentalists of their day. They were very legalistic when it came to keeping the Law of Moses. The Pharisees were a Jewish sect that was formed during the Second century B.C. Most were very well educated in the Jewish law as well as the oral traditions that had been passed down from generation to generation.
The original goal of the Pharisees was to bring Spiritual Revival or renewal to the land of Israel. They recognized that the reason Israel was in the condition they were in was primarily because the Jewish people had chosen to disobey the Law.
Consequently their intention was to promote and teach the importance of obeying the Law of Moses. Which would in turn produce holiness and righteousness in the lives of the Jewish people and pave and the way for the kingdom of God to be established on earth.
In some respects we as Southern Baptists have a lot in common with the Pharisees They believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible (which in their case, was the Old Testament). They believed in the Supernatural. They believed in Satan. They believed in Heaven, and Hell, and they even believed in the resurrection of the dead.
So far they sound like a good group of men, who had good intentions. The problem with the Pharisees was not in what they believed, or what they hoped to do, but in what they actually became and what they actually did.
Their goals were noble and more importantly they were right. The Spiritual condition of the nation of Israel was in fact due to the Sin and disobedience of the Jewish people. But unfortunately, somewhere along the way the Pharisee’s lost sight of the original goal of bringing a spiritual revival to the nation of Israel. Maybe it was power or money, or perhaps it was the prestige that went along with being a Pharisee but something sidetracked them. Instead of being the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, they were the first to reject Him. Rather than turning the nation to Him, they did everything within their power to turn the nation against Him.
So what went wrong? The Pharisees understood what the problem was, but they obviously didn’t know the solution.
They understood that sin and disobedience were the problem but they thought the best way to correct the problem was to focus all of their attention on keeping the Law of Moses.
They taught the importance of keeping the law, but neglected to teach the equally important spiritual truths that came from the prophets. They came to dwell too heavily on the “letter” of Law. They concentrated too much on the details of the Law and not enough on its purpose, which of course was to make them aware of their sins.
The final straw so to speak was when the Pharisees began to give greater spiritual importance to their own ‘interpretations of the Law’ rather than the Law itself. In those places where the traditions of the Pharisees contradicted the written Law, their traditions always prevailed.
The relationship between the Pharisees and the written Law of God is similar to that of the Supreme Court of the United States and our Constitution.
One day last week I was helping Lora prepare for a test in her social studies class and we were going over the different functions of the 3 different branches of government, including the Supreme Court. The Supreme Courts responsibility according to our Constitution is to interpret laws passed by Congress and make sure they agree with our Constitution.
Unfortunately, very few of the ‘opinions’ and “interpretations” that are given by the Supreme Court today are decided by examining the Constitution itself.