Summary: PENTECOST 24, YEAR A - Shows where the Pharisees went wrong, and how we Christians must keep an eye open less we follow them down the road to destruction
So tell me. When the clock turned over to the year 2000, were you ready for Y2K? Do you remember counting the days left until the next century. The days and hours until, the expert tolds us: the phones would go dead; the electricity would go out; and the banks would be unable to give us our money. What did you do to prepare. Did you: have a backup generator; a multi-fuel furnace; as well as a three year supply of food? But that’s nothing when it comes to being prepared. My mother-in-law has been prepared since 1929. My mother-in-law was 8 years old the day the stock market crashed. She can still remember her mother sitting at the kitchen table crying as she heard her say , “what will we feed our children.” From that experience she swore “I will never go without again. She hasn’t. The depression forever affected her life.
What great events have affected your life? World events shape us - more than we realize. There was a study done which discovered that each generation is shaped by a world crisis which has occurred before those individuals are 10 years old. Let me list some of these events and see how you react to them. You will know these events have shaped you if you still feel what you felt that first day, you will know these events have impacted you if you can vividly recall where you were when you first heard of them. The Armistice. The Depression. Pearl Harbor. Nazis invaded Europe. Hiroshima. Sputnik. The assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. Watergate.
The Explosion of Challenger. The Collapse of the Berlin Wall. The end of the USSR.
Crises like this impact us in ways we can barely understand. All we know is. Now we think differently. Now we act differently than we did before. Now we are someone we were not before. World events shape who we are and how we live. They even effect what we pass on to our children. Their effect shape generations even to the point where the crisis is forgotten, but its aftermath remains. Does anyone know what started the conflict between the Irish Catholics and the Irish Protestants? Or why Japan started a war they knew they’d loose from the start?
HISTORY OF THE PHARISEES
In our passage today Jesus is again railing against the Pharisees. But in fairness to them,
they had their reasons for doing what they did. Back in the days of the Prophet Jeremiah Israel had turned away from God. They forgot much about their origins in Egypt, and had decided that they could live well enough on their own. After many warnings and calls to return to God’s ways God brought judgment upon his nation. They were exiled into Babylon. They spent 70 years in captivity before they began to return to a ruined land. And in response to this judment upon their sin the people said “Never Again.” Leaders like Ezra and Nehemiah called the nation to be faithful, to live according to the covenant God made with Israel when Moses lead them out of slavery. Many driven by fear, set their hearts to obey God and his laws. So priests arose to instruct the people in the ways of God. The Pharisees were these priests. The people knew the law of Moses but they were unsure how to fulfill it. So they would go and ask for guidance. For example, one commandment which showed how Israel honored God was to keep the Sabbath day holy. Now the question some of the people had was “How do we do that, how do we keep the Sabbath day holy?” The rabbis said it meant you don’t do any work on the Sabbath. But then someone would ask, “What exactly do you mean by work?” You have to do some things. How much is legitimate?” So the rabbis put there heads together and found that in the Law the Holy of Holies was places 2000 cubits away for the nearest home. Presumably it was legitimate for people to walk 2000 cubits to worship. Therefore, they said, on the Sabbath you must not walk more that 2000 cubits (i.e. 1000 yards). And so that became a Sabbath Day’s journey. That was as far as you could go. Remember the purpose of this discussion was to answer the people’s question, “How do we honor God.” The answer was Keep the Sabbath. But now they have this thing so well definedthat you honored God by not walking more than a thousand yards on the Sabbath day.