The Pharisees 2 - The Pharisee In Me
Updated: Sep 21, 2019
Chan Gin Kai
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:20-21)
Jesus was impressed by the faith of the friends of the paralysed man, and he told the man, "your sins are forgiven". The Pharisees were naturally shocked by what Jesus said because only God can forgive sins. They were experts in the laws of Moses. They were used to different opinions and often debated different views of the scriptures amongst themselves too. But Jesus went far beyond different interpretations; he inferred through his statement that he is God.
If someone tells me that he is God, I'll think he needs professional medical help, or he is a conman out to cheat the naive of money and power. It would be a ridiculous lie, and an outrageous blasphemy, unless of course he really is God. That’s naturally what the Pharisees felt about Jesus too. Except the problem for them is, Jesus really is God.
The Pharisees’ reaction is understandable, and in fact correct. No one should claim to be God, and they were right to defend the faith. They assumed that Jesus had blasphemed and I would too if I were them. But they (most of them) stuck to that opinion after it was formed, and became stubborn against all evidences and reasoning from Jesus after.
If they had opened their eyes to see how Jesus had fulfilled all the prophecies and stopped being cynical towards the miracles that Jesus performed, they would have seen that Jesus is the Messiah. If they had continued listening with humble hearts to Jesus’ teachings, they would have changed, and found salvation. Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the distinguished Ruling Council, was humble enough to learn from Jesus, and he became a disciple (John 3:1-21).
If we are not careful, we can become arrogant and stubborn like the Pharisees too.
We should have strong convictions in our beliefs and defend our faith. But even as we stand firm in the principles that we live by and the opinions we have formulated, are we open to alternative ideas and corrections from others? What makes us so sure that all that we've believe in is actually correct? Are we open to learning from people from a different faith or a different church? There are certainly false teachers out there who are distorting scriptures and spreading false doctrines, and we shouldn't naively allow ourselves to be deceived. As we seek a better understanding of God's word and a purer walk with Him, let's allow more mature disciples who truly love God's word to advise us in our search for God's truth. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1)
We should love reading the Bible, and use the Scriptures to help guide people to Christ. But even as we passionately study and wield God’s word, we have to exercise our knowledge in love to build others up. We mustn't do it for our own arrogance. “But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1b)
We should actively participate in church activities, share our faith, teach people the Bible, help the weak, serve the community and engage in philanthropic activities. But even as we devote ourselves to various forms of pious pursuits, do we start taking pride in our own righteousness? "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
I've been guilty of all of the above, and more. There’s a Pharisee in me that I need to get out. Do you?
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".