Ever wonder why Jesus and the religious leaders were always in disagreement? It seems both laid claim to a relationship with God. Imagine the impact in Israel if they could have combined their efforts.
Jesus had the charisma. He had the miracles and the ability to teach as no one before.
The Scribes and Pharisees had the control. The people were obsessed with following the example of these men.
And yet they clashed on every occasion they met. If Jesus cast out demons, they questioned His authority. When He healed, they asked, “why on the Sabbath?” And this contention wasn’t one-sided. When Jesus confronted the religious leaders, He did so with terms such as “den of vipers,” “blind guides,” and the ever hated “hypocrites!”
If both laid claim to a relationship with God, what caused this great division?
“Religion.” They chose religion over the truth Jesus taught. The same truth Jesus declared had been available to them all along. But their desire was self-centered rather than God honoring.
The religious leaders were consumed with outward appearances. Jesus said, “take a look at your heart.”
The religious leaders said, “Here, carry this weight!” Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The religious leaders said, “prepare for me the best seat.” Jesus said, “give your seat away.”
The religious leaders said, “honor me and pay me tribute.” Jesus said, “the greatest among you shall be your servant.”
My friend Mark Tuso is right when he claims, “Religion is bad!” Not so much in itself, but what men do with it. Mark writes this:
“Man has always loved to be religious. God has always rejected it. Consider what He said in Matthew chapter 23, an entire chapter devoted to attacking religion.
1. Telling other people what to do, while not doing it themselves. 2. Oppressing others with their rules, and their constant demands for things to be the way they like them and think they should be, all the while claiming it is godly. 3. Focusing on how they look on the outside to others, while neglecting their hearts. 4. Constantly drawing attention to themselves. 5. Demanding that others show them the respect they feel they deserve. 6. Failing to serve, while demanding others to serve them. 7. Teaching others to follow in their self-righteous unsaved footsteps. 8. Practicing false piety to make themselves look good. 9. Greedily taking from others to get what they want. 10. Leading others to hell. 11. Lacking true integrity. 12. Manipulating situations and people. 13. Loving religious practices more than people. 14. Rejecting God’s example of justice, mercy, and faith. 15. Complete and utter hypocrisy.
The Pharisees didn’t need God, they didn’t even want God, they just wanted His rules, and they wanted power. Religion replaces God with rules and with rewards and punishments. They rejected Jesus by failing to admit their sinfulness and by relying on their self righteousness. Religious people today are the same way. They don’t want Jesus, they just want His rules, and His heaven, and they could really care less about Him. …religious people will never be saved, that is, until they repent of their religion and repent of their self righteousness. Christ came to save those that are ready to see themselves the way He sees them, as poor, blind, wretched slaves to sin. God gave the Pharisees the law to bring them to that point, but they turned it into an occasion for boasting. Well, God gave us the Gospel to bring us to that point and to keep us there.”
Mark’s article can be found at this link.