Posts tagged Pharisee
“You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:8, ESV
“But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’” Galatians 2:14, ESV
As a younger man I find that when I talk to people who are younger most of the unbiblical traditionalism they see is in the rear view. It’s behind them with their parents or grandparents and their churches. Organ music, older translations, and wearing a suit to church are all considered to be forms of judgementalism which when used for evil is something to be run from. I have attended many churches which have told me that they were not like my last church because they weren’t harmful to my faith and were rather there for me. Traditionalism and hypocrisy is a sin, and the bible does recognize that those who appear to be most devoted can actually be traditionalistic hypocrites, but the scripture also seems to indicate that if we run from tradition to more tradition and not the cross of Christ that we can just as easily fall into sin as those we view as traditionalistic. This is a warning to my generation which is up and coming in church. If we go from tradition to tradition we have neglected the faith and should suffer as hypocrites.
When Christ walked the earth his most vocal critiques were Pharisees who were misled by their passion for godless tradition and sinful hearts into killing Christ. Traditionalism has at it’s heart man. When man is justified by man’s works then man is worshipping himself. A traditionalistic person will replace their love of God with love of self. Traditionalism does not bow to scripture but rather sets it’s own course. Traditionalism leads away from Christ to pride or despair. Pride if one feels as though one can truly find salvation in self, or despair if one feels as though there is no hope to find salvation because it can’t possibly come from self.
Characteristically traditionalism is considered to be cultural. Old churches which use hymnals, don’t have electric guitars or Facebook pages, where preachers are stern about sin could be considered traditionalist by the larger community or even other believers. The solution presented by some is to create an alternative community that looks like the world around them, does not call out Christians on their sinful behavior in humility, and spend large money on advertising and reaching people. The problem is that this is not enough.
Years after Christ died Cephas (Peter) was the head of the church in Jerusalem when he was approached by an upstart evangelist named Paul (formerly Saul). Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, calls Cephas out on his traditionalism. Cephas had just started the church of Jerusalem, he had grown large, and he had led the church into traditionalism. Cephas’ traditionalists were called the “circumcision party” because of their requirement that Gentiles who came to believe in Christ should be circumcised to be Christians. Paul calls out Cephas for his hypocrisy and tells him to repent. So where had Cephas, with his new systems, new church, and new ideas gone away from the gospel? Traditionalism. (more…)
The Jews were a religious people. They’re religious leaders memorized the Old Testament. They had rule after rule. They constantly upheld and told others to uphold these rules. Jesus ministry faced opposition, and most of the opposition came from religious leaders. In the end it was the religious leaders of Israel that wanted Jesus dead. Jesus faced their courts and though innocent was found guilty. Jesus faced the majority of his righteous anger and frustration from dealing with these religious people.
In Matthew 12 Jesus is confronting some of these religious leaders. They are on his case for healing a man on the day of rest. They condemn Jesus, but Jesus speaks truth to them saying that they were hypocrites. In Matthew 12 some of these religious leaders come to Jesus Christ and ask him for a sign. A sign is a miracle. Jesus had just healed a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees wanted to see Jesus make a trick. They wanted him to do things for them. They wanted him to perform.
After hearing this Jesus remarked that they were an evil and adulterous generation. The Pharisees were looking for Jesus to prove himself as the son of God. Other people who came to Christ were not coming to see a trick. The lady who had bleeding touched Christ’s garment out of desperation because she was tired of living the way she had been and knew that the only way she could be healed was through Christ. The men who lowered their friend through the roof of the place where Christ was teaching did so because they believed Christ could heel, not because they wanted entertainment. The people who received the miracles of Christ did so because they believed. They knew Christ would heal and so they were healed. The miracle reserved for those who don’t believe is the miracle of Jonah.
Jonah was an Old Testament prophet who lived in a fish for three days. Everyone who knew that he had been swallowed by the fish assumed he had died. Then he was spit out and through him a city was transformed. Jesus was killed, everyone assumed he was dead. Then he rose after three days and the world was transformed. This is the miracle for the unbeliever. This is the miracle for the religious. This is the miracle for the sinner. This is the greatest miracle that ever happened.
Some Christians chase miracles like healing or prophecy. These miracles can happen, but they must not be loved over the greatest miracle. The sign of Jonah is integral to our faith. Without the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ all the healing in the world is worthless. As we seek miracles let’s not forget Matthew 12:38-42 and the sign of Jonah, the miracle that Jesus gave to those in the church. Christ died and rose, performing the greatest miracle in history.