Jesus’ Warnings About the Pharisees: Topic #2
But Jesus words of course beg the question, “What’s so bad about the Pharisees behaviour?” Well don’t worry. Jesus is about to give us a list.
What do Pharisees do?
First we read that “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (23:4)
Contextually, this does not mean physical burdens, but the burdens of religious abuse. These were the numerous religious prescriptions and duties that they placed on everyday people, but to which they never had to live by.
This was a form of religious abuse.
The Pharisees enjoyed pouring gilt and shame on the people for every sin or struggle. However, they never issuing one word or action of grace or mercy, to help the people through their struggles.
Unfortunately, this behaviour continues today in many churches. Pastors love to preach fire and brimstone, but neglect any sort of pastoral care.
The Pharisees like to show off.
“Everything they do is done for people to see:” They make their “…phylacteries wide and…tassels…long…” (23:5)
Last week we talked a bit about these small boxes (phylacteries), which contain tiny scrolls, rolled up pieces of the Torah.
This practice comes from a literal interpretation of Deut. 6:8 that states we should tie God’s word “…as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” Orthodox Jews, as seen in the slide continue this practice even today.
The Pharisees took it one step further.
The Pharisees got the idea that if they strapped wider phylacteries on their heads they’d look more godly.
For a moment, try to imagine the guy above, but with a big wide box across his forehead. It would be like a preacher coming out to the pulpit with the biggest Bible he could find because he thought it was more godly.
Now the tassels on their garments; this was a literal order from the Lord recorded in Numbers 15.
“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel.” (Num. 15:38)
Of course, the Pharisees had to elongate these tassels. Why? Well, clearly the longer the tassels, the more godly they look.
As verse 6 states, the Pharisees “they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;” (23:6)
This one is straight forward. If there is a head of the table, they want to be at it.
This love for honor and wanting to be important drove the Pharisees to many of their prideful and arrogant behaviours.