Jesus had some harsh words for those who believed they were better than others and thought they were “righteous” – that is, right with God – because of who they were or the rules they followed. In Luke 11, he calls them Pharisees, but he could just as easily be commenting on many of us who call ourselves Christian. Reading from The Message: “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe things of all kinds and neglect justice and the love of God; it is
these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces … Woe to you! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.”
This conversation began when a Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner and then criticized him when he didn’t wash his hands before sitting down to eat. The criticism wasn’t based on the fact that Jesus’s hands were dirty, it had to do with Jewish purity laws. How many of us, if invited to someone’s house for dinner, ask to wash our hands before eating? We might if we had come straight from mowing the lawn or if we petted their dog before dinner, but for the most part we come ready for dinner. The same was true for Jesus. But the Jews had laws about not just washing their hands before eating – the laws extended to where the water came from, how it was stored, and the way in which the hands were to be washed. Following these rules equated with being righteous before God.
Jesus knew there were people who put the rules above the welfare of others. They gave the exact amount the law said they should give but treated others unjustly. They gave out of obligation rather than love. They gave openly and visibly so that others would see them and honor them, rather than giving from the heart. They imposed their rules on others without concern as to the impact those rules might have and then criticized and ostracized them for their failure to meet impossible standards.
For Jesus, a person’s inner self was far more important than outward appearance. He hated hypocrisy and those who gave only to receive the praise of others. Jesus cares deeply that we care for others around us and that we share his love for them. We receive so that we can give; we don't give in order that we might receive. What do you think?
Meditate At 8:00: Pharisees - YouTube