Every Easter, we hear the retelling of the different parts of the life of Jesus Christ, most specifically, the ending of His life. For some reason, lately I have been drawn to the passages focused around the Pharisees, and it got me thinking about how, in some ways, our world isn't that much different than it was 2,000 years ago.
The word Pharisee actually means pure, or separate. These were men who aspired to be the best of the Jews, and were considered to be the most righteous of all of the Jewish people during the days of Jesus Christ. They definitely knew their stuff, and had worked very hard to be righteous in the eyes of God. The Bible, however, certainly does not show them in quite the same light. In the Bible, these men are depicted as uptight, arrogant men who wielded the word of God as a weapon to turn against Jesus and his followers. They could not see past their bigotry, greed, or need to control others, even when the miracles performed by Jesus were shown right in front of their eyes. They saw Jesus as a threat to everything they had and stood for, and took every opportunity to discredit or disempower him in front of the crowds. They even went so far as to manipulate an angry crowd, already outraged that Jesus was not the warrior they expected who would liberate them from the control of Rome, into demanding that He was crucified. All in the name of God.
The Pharisees were an elite group of self-righteous leaders 2,000 years ago, but they are still alive and strong today. We live in a world where people use the Bible to strike each other down in the name of God and even Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34). I often wonder, if Jesus came back to our world, would he be met with the Love that he had for all of us and commanded us to have for each other, or the treachery of the Pharisees? Would he find a world where people love and accept each other, or where they judge and condemn each other in His name? Would he, too, be condemned?
God loved the world so much that he allowed his Son to go through one of the most agonizing deaths known to our world. He did this so that everyone who was ever born could be forgiven of their sins, no matter what they are, and be given eternal life by believing in Him. All sins, all people, through His Love, whether the Pharisees approve or not. It's a complete game changer. This was the memo that the Pharisees missed way back in Jerusalem, and the Pharisees of today haven't really completely figured out yet either. As you go into this beautiful Easter weekend, I challenge you to embrace the Good News all over again, and be joyful for the amazing sacrifice that God made for all of us.
"For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." -John 3:16-17