Pharisee or Christlike?
August 26, 2015
There’s a wonderful story in the book of Luke in the Bible (Chapter 7:25-50) about an interaction between Christ Jesus, a local prostitute, and Simon the Pharisee. Simon had invited Jesus to dine with him, and the prostitute had come to show her gratitude for his healing of her. Simon was aghast that Jesus would allow such a thing, since it flew in the face of all the rules. But Jesus overturned all those human rules and operated at a more spiritual level.
So the question is, do we look at the world like Simon did, saying “here are the rules and if you don’t follow them you’re wrong?” Or do we see the world through the eyes of grace as Jesus did, letting compassion be our guide? Do we ask ourselves, “what would be the most progressive and helpful thing to do at this moment?” or do we simply say “no room for that kind of thing here.”
The Pharisees had a very rigid and harsh system of rules that maintained a sense of order but excluded spiritual insight and regeneration. To their viewpoint, any deviation from their structure was sinful and to be punished. This closed the door on innovation, insight, and healing. And it rejected the very Messiah they had been waiting centuries for, because it didn’t fit there confining model.
How are we doing the same thing? How narrow and proscriptive are our views of ourselves and fellowman? With that kind of outlook, there is no option but to fail since no one can measure up to those harsh restrictions. But Jesus came to throw off those limitations. He came to set the imprisoned thought free. He encouraged his followers to be thinkers, not just automatons. Isn’t the Golden Rule a perfect example? And the rest of the Sermon on the Mount?
Jesus loved the Ten Commandments and encouraged obedience to them. But his ministry disrupted the officious regulations of the Pharisees. He accused them of hypocrisy because they only strove to appear to be law-abiding. He said, “ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Luke 11:42)
Although it’s not clear if the Judaic sect of the Pharisees still survives today, certainly legalistic pharisaism is alive and well! But it’s not too late to purge it from our churches and governments. our communities and our homes. Jesus’ model of love, compassion, forgiveness, and expectation of reform all stemmed from his understanding of God’s unyielding love for him, and for us.
That kind of love heals. Then, and now.
For a great exegesis of the story in Luke referred to above, click here.
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link. If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.