Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed a crowd of thousands. The government was always on His shoulders. Blinded by jealousy, pride and arrogance, the Pharisees and leaders of the Temple missed their Savior. They wanted Jesus dead.
Humble and gentle, Jesus showed His love and compassion. Yet He died on a Roman cross--not for His sins but for yours and mine. He exchanged His righteousness for our sinfulness.
The good news is that death could not hold Jesus. He rose from the grave, rolled away the stone and visited more than 500 people before He ascended into Heaven. He promised He would prepare a place for us, that where He was we would be also. How can we be sure that when He comes to take us to His place in glory, that we will be ready? This is what Jesus says in Luke 9:23-26: "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory."
Think About It
Is anything (relationship, possessions, wealth, power) in your life more important to you than Jesus? He said in Mark 12:30, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." Jesus gave His all for us. How could we give Him any less?
Pray About It
Lord Jesus, I long to be with you. Show me your paths and teach me your ways. I want more of you and less of me in my life. Amen.
The Pharisees enjoyed the high places of recognition, the most important seats at banquets. But Jesus said, "The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" Matthew 23:11-12.
He also had strong warnings to the Pharisees, which He called woes in Matthew 23.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You lock up heaven from people.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You devour widows houses and make long prayers just for show.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are!
"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever takes an oath by the sanctuary, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by his oath. Blind fools! Which is greater the gold or the sanctuary that sanctified the gold?
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faith.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every impurity.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn't have taken part with them in shedding the prophets' blood. You testify against yourselves!
Think About It
The scribes and Pharisees were the elite, the leaders of Israel. If Jesus had such strong words for leaders when He lived on earth, I wonder what He would say of our leaders today. You and I have to be wise and discerning about things our leaders say and do. When the leaders told Peter he could no longer speak in the name of Jesus, he said he had to obey God, not man. These are troubling times, and we might be called to do as Peter did.
Pray About It
Our Lord, thank you for teaching us as you taught your disciples about what is really important, and it's not the things that are important to our world. Help us to be wise . Give us the words for our defense. We trust you in Jesus' name, amen.
Have you experienced the pointed finger? Do you often feel that someone is always judging you--that you'll never get it right or be good enough? These are not good feelings. I know and Jesus knows. A group of people constantly badgered Jesus. They judged Him for healing on the Sabbath, for not fasting or washing His hands the way they did. They didn't like Him teaching in the temple or claiming to be God. These people were called Pharisees. They knew the letter of the law, but the law was written to teach people how to love their neighbors.
The Pharisees had no mercy or love in their hearts. They were proud of themselves for keeping the commandments. It was okay for them to feed their animals on the Sabbath, but they hated Jesus for making people well on the Sabbath. Jesus called them hypocrites. Blinded by pride and arrogance, they missed their Savior.
Jesus said to His disciples, "Don't do what they do, because they don't practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people's shoulders, but they themselves aren't willing to lift a finger to move them. They do everything to be observed by others" Matthew 23:3-5.
Next week we will read some woes Jesus spoke directly to the Pharisees, and I hope you'll join us.
Think About It
The next time you feel a finger pointing in your direction, remember Jesus faced the same thing. He overcame the sin of the Pharisees and because He did, we can too. Tell Jesus how much it hurts. When you say His name, you will know His presence and comfort.
Pray About It
Lord Jesus, it hurts when I cannot live up to the standards others expect of me. I am glad you know the pain of the pointed finger. Help me to trust You and find my value in You instead of trying to please people. Amen.