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Lord of the Sabbath – Luke 6:1-11
February 6, 2011
1. The Pharisees
a. The text of Scripture we read this morning gives us the second of three run-ins up to this point, that Jesus has with the Pharisees, religious leaders whose job is to interpret the Law for the people.
b. We note here that there is a growing animosity to Jesus on the part of the Pharisees. Note that the level of antagonism grows in each confrontation in these three controversies. See 5:33 and then 6:2 and then 6:7.
c. The Pharisees are legalists. There is just no getting around it. They see themselves as the ones who should let the people know about the Law of God and all its implications for living. Their problem is that they neither know the law or real righteousness. They think righteousness is simply a matter of action, regardless of heart. And they think that the more rules they keep the more righteous they are. They do not love God. They love themselves. If asked the famous question “What would you say to God if He asked you why you should be allowed entrance into heaven”, they would have an answer. They would talk about their fasting, their praying, their tithing, the keeping of the Sabbath, the fact that they are not as bad as those they are forced to associate with all the time. We get an idea of what they are like in Luke 18:9-14. Jesus, during Passion Week, gives us the best summary of what the Pharisees are like – Matthew 23:3-8, 13, 15, 16, 23, 25, 26, 27, 29. This is the Pharisees.
d. They certainly do not love their neighbours. They hate people who do not see the law as they see it. They hate people who do not keep the rules that they have invented and developed over the years. But they are glad that they can at least demonstrate that they are better than the rabble they must rub shoulders with day by day.
e. Enter Jesus. He teaches with authority. He is popular. He can perform miracles. He is a threat to the Pharisees hold on people and worse, He does not agree with them regarding the rules and how they are to be kept.
f. Now dear ones, there is no getting around this. We are all Pharisees by nature. We know how things ought to be done. We know that we should live eternally with God in the painless bliss of His glory. And we know that “they”, whoever “they” are, should not. “They” don’t go to church. “They” go to the wrong church. “They” don’t baptize right. “They” are immoral. This is not to say that those people are right in what they do. Jesus never told the woman at the well that she was fine the way she was. He told her of her sin and saved her from it. He did not tell the woman caught in adultery that she could keep committing it. He told her to go and sin no more. But He did receive sinners. He spent time with them. He loved them, even when they did not repent. Jesus never condoned sin. But we do. We love it when people sin – it enables us to look better than they are. That was the problem of the Pharisees. The saw themselves as better. And we can fall into that very easily.
i. That Christian who gossips. Gossip is wrong. She needs to stop. So far so good. But then we get to – “I wouldn’t do that”. “I’m better than that”. “Thank you Lord that I am not like other people”. Continue reading