Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Schooling the (Self) Righteous

Pharisee: פְּרוּשִׁים - A member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form. The word pharisee comes from the Hebrew parush which means "Set apart". The Pharisees were one of three major religious societies in Judaism during New Testament times. The other two were the Sadducees  and the Essenes. 

The Sadducees were responsible for the Temple maintenance in fact they used their  their high social status to usurp the priestly responsibilities as mandated by the Torah to the Levites. Saducees do not believe in resurrection, nor do they believe in angels, which is why they're sad, you see? They believe in a literal interpretation of the Torah. The Essenes were the smallest sect by far, they lived in communes and dedicated themselves to voluntary poverty, daily immersion, and abstinence from worldly pleasures, including (for some groups) celibacy. Think: Jewish monks.

The Pharisees were the most populous and considered the spiritual fathers of modern Judaism. They believe in an Oral Law, which is a verbal commentary on the Torah (for example: The bible says to keep the Sabbath holy. The Oral Law of the Pharisees tells you how to keep the Sabbath holy. The Oral Law was eventually written down in what's called the Talmud.) Unfortunately they believe that the Talmud, their interpretation of the Torah, was equal to the Torah, which really ticked off the Saddusees and the Essenes. The Pharisees were the blue collar every day kind of Jew and their traditions kept the Jewish religion alive after the destruction of the temple. However they became arrogant and tremendous hypocrites and Jesus was there to set them straight. 

According to William Barclay, the Talmud describes seven different types of Pharisees; six of the seven are bad. 

· The Shoulder Pharisee, who wore all his good deeds and righteousness on his shoulders for everyone to see.

· The Wait-a-Little Pharisee, who always intended to do good deeds, but could always find a reason for doing them later, not now.

· The Bruised or Bleeding Pharisee, who was so holy that he would turn his head away from any woman seen in public – and was therefore constantly bumping into things and tripping, thus injuring himself.

· The Hump-Backed Pharisee, who was so humble that he walked bent over and barely lifting his feet – so everyone could see just how humble he was.

· The Always-Counting Pharisee, who was always counting up his good deeds and believed that he put God in debt to him for all the good he had done.

· The Fearful Pharisee, who did good because he was terrified that God would strike him with judgment if he did not.

· The God-Fearing Pharisee, who really loved God and did good deeds to please the God he loved.

As we look at Matthew 23 see if you can spot the different types of Pharisees that Jesus is talking about.

Jesus had a huge problem with The Shoulder Pharisees, who in Texas would be called "All Hat And No Cattle Pharisees" in Matthew 23:5 he derided these Pharisees for their glaring public displays of piety:
 But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
The phylacteries (tefillin) is a small black box that is worn on the left arm and on the forehead of pious Jewish men, these small boxes contain verses from the Torah and are worn during weekday morning prayers. These are prescribed in Exodus 13:9,16 and Deuteronomy 6:8 and Deuteronomy 11:18. Jesus is accusing the Pharisees of using broader straps to hold the phylactery in place making it more noticeable. The tassels (tzitzit) Jesus is speaking of are tassels at the corner or their prayer shawls, these were outlined in Numbers 15:38 and Deuteronomy 22:12. Jesus Himself wore them but what he's accusing the Pharisees of is lengthening the tassels to make them more noticeable, making the wearer appear (in the wearers own mind at least) more spiritual.

If you know anyone that believes in the "Fluffy Bunny" Buddy Jesus who was warm and huggable to everyone, have them re-read Matthew, because here's where Jesus anger with the Pharisees really begins to show, starting with these empty displays of piety. False piety angered Jesus to no end but pile that on top of arrogance:
They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. (Matthew 23:6-7)
Then he lets them know where they are exceeding their authority:
But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:8-12)
Jesus here is condemning pride and pretense, not the titles themselves. Paul talks of instructors in the church and calls himself the Corinthians' "father" (1 Cor 4:15) Jesus is not forbidding the showing of respect but forbidding the use of such names as spiritual titles. Jesus is commanding us to keep from assuming positions where we would be seen as others the source of spiritual truth rather than the true source of spiritual truth: God.

As this Lenten season progresses I need to keep on guard that although I am called to act as an example of righteous living in the Spirit, I am also to remain humble, to display my Christianity through words and deeds rather than gaudy apparel and frivolous jewelry that brings glory to the shop keeper rather than to God. I need to keep foremost in my mind as I witness to those around me that I am not a source of the truth, but merely a conduit for His holy word. 

Next, we find out what woes are waiting for pharisees of all epochs

No comments:

Post a Comment