Modern Pharisees

RadNovus's picture

Jesus did not come for everybody.

What a scandalous statement to make. If I were important, I would hear an unbiased news reporter somewhere saying “Noe, the half-mexican from California has just made one of the most intolerant, mean, and offensive statements ever recorded.” And then they would quote that line sixty times a day until my credibility was destroyed and the masses were demanding my head on a platter. I would be systematically forced to resign from any job that I had, or any blog or journal I would write for. This is the world that we are living in. But this is exactly what Jesus himself has said.

While Jesus was talking with the Pharisees, they questioned about how he could dare eat with public sinners. Tax-collecters were hated because they represented the ruling elite of the day, and prostitutes well, Pharisees just can’t even.

He responded with a most scandalous admission that he did not come for everyone. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” –Mark 2:17. Jesus, of course did not mean a physician for the body (although he did heal many). He meant primarily a physician of the soul. Jesus came for the sinners who knew they were sinners. Implicit in that is that he didn’t come for those who didn’t think there were sinners. No sin? Then nothing to be saved from.  

In our age, sin is a taboo. More than a taboo, the meaning has been eroded by modern thought. We have psychologized sin.  Stripped of its danger, sin is now considered a historical antiquated word, emptied of any force over our morality. As long as the individual does not believe he has committed a sin, then he is not a sinner.

A consequence of this loss of a sense of sin is that we no longer feel that we need saving. Most people do not reject Christ expressly. Rather, in justifying our decisions (cohabitation, contraception, drug use, divorce and remarriage, abortion, hooking up, pornography addiction) we reject the necessity for Christ. We reject Him through rejecting our need for Him. (Yes, I know the examples were mostly to do with sex. But if you do not know or think that America has a sex problem, then you are probably a Modern Pharisee.)

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable to further explain who he can save and who he can’t save:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 

Our problem, in the West at least, is that we are confident in our own righteousness because we do not acknowledge our sins, we justify them. And some even use Jesus to do it, claiming that he wouldn't judge them. How silly. Our civilization has developed whole theologies and philosophies to justify behavior that is clearly sinful. Moral relativism, the denial of hell and sin, atheism, defanged christianity are all in the air we breathe.

Like the Pharisees, we say “at least we don’t”. When in all reality if we could just admit our brokenness, we could begin to experience the peace that only come from Him.

I will even quote a baptist to keep things interesting. The great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon said, "The greatest enemy to human souls is a self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation."

It is very logical that anyone who does not believe themselves to be a sinner cannot be saved.

Premise 1: Jesus came to save sinners.

Premise 2: I am not a sinner.

Conclusion: Jesus can’t save me.

Modern Pharisees are those who do not believe they are sinners. The definition of pharisee handed down from the ruling elite through mass communications is very different from the way Jesus described them. Pharisees are described as those who believe in a clear moral law, and are therefore judgemental or intolerant. No, that is a lie.

It is those who do not believe in clear moral law who are the Pharisees. Sin is the breaking of the moral law, and you can't break a law you do not believe in. And according to Christ you have to be a sinner to be saved. 

So, don't be a pharisee. Hold onto the clear moral law that comes directly from Christ through his Mystical Body. Don't say "at least I don't" or "it's not that bad" with the pharisees, rather say "have mercy on me a sinner" with the tax collecter.  

Happy Advent!

 

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