The more I read the gospels, the more disgusted and frustrated I become with the Pharisees. The thing is, they were always trying to stir up something. Always! Apparently they didn’t have anything better to do with their time as religious leaders than to constantly find fault with Jesus and His teaching. I guess it was their goal in life – to complain, I mean. And yet Jesus said that all the commandments were summed up in doing the one thing they couldn’t, or maybe wouldn’t do. I bet it really provoked them!
One day when they were standing around Jesus (all with the same motives, to bring Him down), it must have thrilled the Pharisees when Jesus silenced the rich, arrogant group of of politically correct priests, who too often sided with the Romans. I’m sure they reveled in the moment. The Saducees had been put in their place, and now they had their opportunity to shine. To be right! So they called a business meeting to make a plan. To get their way. To prove their point. And they came to Jesus …
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
Can you seriously imagine what happened after that?! The problem was that Jesus’ response was the farthest thing from their hearts. The Pharisees “obeyed” God, but they didn’t love God. And they definitely didn’t love each other. They totally missed the point of it all.
Are the Pharisees of our day who fill the pews of many churches week after week so consumed with criticizing others, gossiping about them, finding fault with those who might change something in their very safe world of knowledge and rule keeping (legalism) that they miss it, too? Francis Chan says in his book Crazy Love that when we are pursuing love, running toward Christ, we do not have opportunity to wonder/worry about motives, works, etc. We don’t have time to criticize and debate. We are free to serve, love, and give. When we love God, the thing we are most zealous about is running toward Him. Jesus told the group that day (those who were zealous about the outside, not the inside) to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind. He called it the ‘first and greatest commandment’.
If we have zeal for God – passion for Him – our lives will be filled with intimate prayer and study of His Word. We won’t have time to criticize, complain and harshly judge others. We will be CONSUMED WITH LOVING HIM.
It’s love month. I want to love Him more and run toward Him with zeal!