Tag Archives: Pharisees

Joshua 21-22; Luke 6:1-26

Sometimes I have much more in common with the Pharisees than with Jesus. In the first 11 verses of Luke 6 it is apparent that they like having control, calling the shots and  operating their little kingdoms off of their rules.  They like predictability; their religion essentially serves them, not God and certainly not others. If ruthlessly honest, I can relate.  Jesus clears the game board of their lives and introduces an entirely different order, one that is wild and holy and offers a view of life never seen before.

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12

I get the sense that Jesus is doing something much more than working off a prayer list.  I imagine that this night long prayer vigil is a time of abiding, submitting, talking to the Father about events behind and before him. I imagine great joy and peace flowing back and forth between the Father and Son. Somehow, God imparts to Jesus the energy necessary to make key decisions and meet the innumerable needs of the people he loves.  I want this kind of love for God.

From this time of prayer, Jesus steps into the crowd with compassion, power and healing. It’s interesting that the scripture notes that Jesus is looking at his disciples.” He directly addresses them as he delivers the blessings and woes lesson.  He contrasts the lives of the poor to that of the Pharisees and tells them not to envy the Pharisee’s wealth and affluence, their well appointed tables and comfortable lives. Instead, he speaks of a way of life the Pharisees will never know. The kingdom of God is enjoyed in poverty; they will be satisfied, not left hungry and always wanting for more. They will know great joy in the midst of great sorrow. There will be rejoicing in spite of persecution, because they  know the Son of God.

There is abundant life if I leave Pharisee ways; when I turn from manipulation,  judgement, self justification and a tightly controlled, comfortable little world, Jesus delivers something altogether wonderful- the Kingdom of God. I pray that God shows me what that means today, moment by moment.



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Genesis 25, 26: Matthew 9:1-32

Jesus has no difficulty disrupting the status quo. Imagine being one of the “teachers of the law” in Matthew 9. Jesus publicly exposes thoughts and motives and laughs at the impotence of rules and regulations by healing the paralytic. Those who white knuckled the law were so focused on maintaining the illusion of control that they turned from the wonder of God’s love let loose to heal. And then I have to ask myself, “When have I held onto the same illusion and forfeited awe and wonder?”

Enter Matthew, the Gentile, the spiritually bankrupt, money loving tax collector.  Jesus chooses him as a dinner companion and as a follower. To make matters worse, it appears that Jesus enjoys not only Matthew’s company, but his equally morally repulsive friends as well. When the Pharisees understandably question Jesus’s judgement regarding companions, Jesus offers homework,

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have not come to the righteous, but sinners. Matthew 9:12-13.

After reading these words, I have to ask myself, “When has the company of other “respectable people” been more important than being with Jesus?”

Lastly, the status quo disruption isn’t just for those hardcore, salvation-by-works folks;  it’s also for those who pave the way for the Kingdom of God come to earth,  John’s disciples.  They can’t understand why they must fast and yet Jesus’s disciples don’t miss a meal. Jesus describes his presence as a reason to celebrate, but also warns them that it won’t always be so. He joins brings gives saves what is old by bringing in the new.

No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, make the tear word. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. Matthew 9;16-17

My take away is this; Jesus doesn’t want to leave me where he has found me.  He wants to replace my desire to be in control with wonder and awe. He wants me to be in his company and not worry about what others will think. He wants to do something new, always new. My question for you is this, “What does he want to do in you?”




Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Matthew, New Testament

Psalms 24,25,26; John 10:22-42

David had an awesome relationship with God. I spent some time meditating on Psalm 25 today. It is a beautiful picture of childlike trust and admiration of a loving Father by a trusting child.

8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of his covenant.

Fast forward to Jesus’ day.  In John 9 we read about Jesus’ healing of a man that was born blind. The Pharisees just did not want this to be true.  They tried desperately to spin this some other way than the miracle it plainly was. The healed man says that if Jesus was not from God then he couldn’t have done this miracle. To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. The Pharisees were not humble, for sure. No guidance for them, I’m afraid.

So Jesus moves along and he gets to Jerusalem. The Holy City. Teaming with learned Pharisees. In John 10 we read:

22 Then came the Feast of Dedication[b] at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple

area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ,[c] tell us plainly.”25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

These Jews did not want to hear any of this.  Jesus was claiming to be God and they did not want to hear that. They try to stone him but Jesus escapes. It was not yet his time. The story continues:

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

One thing that stood out to me as I read this was the contrast between what happened in Jerusalem and what happened in the area where John was baptizing. John the Baptist’s mission was to prepare the way for Jesus. He preached repentance. Repentance requires us to admit that we have gone astray, we are wrong, and we desire to be made right. Repentance requires humility. The people that were prepared by John and his ministry were able to hear Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The Jews in Jerusalem, the learned ones that thought they knew everything, the ones that were at the top of the heap and did not want to give that up, were spiritually blind and deaf. The blind man was able to see, but the Pharisees were blind to the Truth.

Lord, sometimes I know that my biggest sin is the sin of pride. I pray that I can humble myself and repent so that I can tune into your voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd. I know that this is an ongoing journey, from day to day, from pasture to pasture, until you lead me to my final home.

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Genesis 49-50, Matthew 23:23-29

 “I look for your deliverance, LORD. Genesis 49:18 

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. Matthew 23:23

Death and legacy. Who am I really? Who do I want people to remember when I am gone?

Jacob blessed each of his sons before he died. Most of what he said had to do with who they were as grown men. Their legacies had already been determined by the things they had already done.

Jesus warned the Pharisees that their preoccupation with their public personas was not scoring any points in heaven or on earth. While they were trying to be so “holy”, they were just making people around them miserable.

Many Christians do the same thing. I remember hearing that my niece said to my daughter that nobody could live in my  “perfect world”. I was trying so hard to bring them up right that I was stressing out everyone around me, including myself. I hate the thought that I am viewed as a perfectionist rather than a loving and forgiving person. I don’t want that to be my legacy.

But the good news is that among those verses is a prophesy regarding a Messiah, Jesus, the Lion of Judah, who will deliver us from this body of death.

Praise God. My future is not determined by my sins, but by the One who has saved me by his blood.

Thank you Jesus. Help me not to be a pharisaical blind guide. May my words lead others to You, to hope and not into despair. I pray these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen




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Genesis 46,47,48; Matthew 23:1-22

His language slaps and stings. Did they feel it? Would they see themselves in His words?

Blind guides, blind fools, hypocrites … what sorrow awaits.

These religious leaders, who shut the door to the Kingdom of Heaven so that neither they nor their students could enter. Making converts twice the child of hell they are. Burden stackers. Spotlight seekers. What sorrow awaits.

“Don’t follow their example,” Jesus tells the crowd and the disciples. He didn’t say their teaching was wrong; he was talking about their example.

I feel the sting. The contradiction of word and deed. It falls on me, conviction.

I tell my kids not to load up on junk, but when they leave the room  I sneak Hershey Kisses from the freezer. I tell my kids to treat each other the way they want to be treated, but I’m snapping at them as I do so. When I (internally) fault a “sister” for her lack of forgiveness, I see my own unforgiveness as I hold an offense against her.

Do I want to keep on like this? Candy sneaker, edgy mom, hypocrite?

Just yesterday, a friend and I talked and the question arose, “Wouldn’t you want a friend to point out if you were headed down a bad path? I know I would. But I don’t know anyone who would want to confront.”

There is a friend.

Jesus says, ” … for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.” Matthew 23:10b (NLT).

I am thankful for God’s Spirit in me, to help, to convict.

While it’s a little late in the year to make a resolution, it’s not too late for change. Jesus, be my teacher. Today. For real. Show me what needs to change and help me to do it. From what goes into my mouth to what comes out of it, Lord, I want to walk alongside you and learn from you for real change.

Courtney (66books365)



Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament