This Week's Text: Mark 3.1-6, Matthew 23, 5.17,20
Teaching Link: People Jesus Met:The Pharisees
Who is your favorite villain from literature or film? How you you feel if they were merely misunderstood? Would you be happy or sad?
What do you think of when you hear the term “pharisee?”
There was nothing inherently hypocritical about being a Pharisees. In fact, Pharisees were in essence a group of people who deeply wanted to serve God and were trying to follow the scriptures the best they knew how. The problem came when they abandoned the spirit of the law for the letter.
Jesus and the Pharisees got into it with one another at a deep, deep level because (1) both were committed to the revelation of God in the Torah, but (2) they differed radically on how to interpret that Torah. Let this be clear, though: they did not differ that it was the Word of God, they did not differ on the importance of Abraham, Moses, David or the Prophets. They differed...because Jesus thought the Torah should be interpreted in light of Deuteronomy 6.4-9 and Leviticus 19.18 (The Jesus Creed-Love God, Love others). It is simplistic to talk like this, but it is essentially on target to say that Jesus thought the Torah was about loving God and loving others, and the Pharisees saw the Torah more as a comprehensive listing of God’s will.
(Let me back down a bit: the Pharisees did dispute about what was the most important commandment and the like, but when it comes down to it — and you can see this in Josephus, in the Gospels, and in the Mishnah/rabbinic traditions — they saw the Torah as a comprehensive treasure trove of God’s will, while Jesus thought that treasure trove was to be approached through the Jesus Creed itself.) Scott Mcknight, The Pharisees: My Response to the New Barna Study
What is the difference between “hypocrisy” and “heresy?”
Think about the relationship between right belief and right action. Which do you tend to be more concerned about?
Who are some people you may be labeling unfairly? How can you work to understand their point of view?