I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the infamous Pharisees and how Jesus interacted with and dealt with them. Several times during Jesus’ ministry he conflicted with the Pharisees. One particular conflict comes from Mark 3:1-6 (NASB):
He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
The Pharisees were the religious elite. They devoted their lives to knowing God and His word. They followed God’s law and dedicated their lives to following Him….but they missed the point. They considered themselves to be the gatekeepers to God’s Kingdom and used their understanding and interpretation of His law to declare who was (or wasn’t) worthy to enter. They used their position to cast others down instead of building them up. They pushed their own ideology, political agenda, and personal convictions, instead of God’s mercy and grace. They offered judgment instead of love. They were so convinced that they were right that they failed to realize when they were working against the very Messiah they awaited. They missed Christ and He was staring them in the face. For them, religion meant the observance of rules and rituals, but for Jesus religion meant service and restoring life.
As Christian leaders, we must be mindful of our motivation in ministry. Our passion must be to serve, offer grace and compassion, and to point people to Christ so that He can bring about healing and the restoration of life.
I pray that I never fail to recognize Him, and repent for all the times I have in the past. I pray for humility, always realizing that I don’t know everything. I pray that my heart will become that of Christ. Today I pray that for you as well.