Tag Archives: Pharisees

Matthew 27 – 1 – Trials

Wow!  These Jewish leaders!  They seem like such bitter and angry people!

Judas comes and seeks remorse and a restitution of sorts for his involvement in this situation.  He knows he is wrong and that he is at fault.  So he comes in remorse and repentance, and they basically say, “Yup!  You da man!  You are at fault and in judgment, and we’re not lifting a finger  to help you.”

They bring Jesus before the secular, gentile law because they cannot sentence Him to death on their own.  If they could have avoided Pilate and dealing with the spited gentiles, they would have.  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, they could not sentence Jesus to death on their own.  Pilate, having dealt with these Jews before, had some major issues with what was going on.  He knew that the Pharisees and religious leaders were doing this because they were so angry and bitter, and they hated Jesus for what He did and stood for.

Pilate knows that this is a sham trial, and he tries to stop it.  But what God / YHWH has put into place, Pilate certainly cannot stop.  So Pilate does what he can to help end this fiasco, but to no avail!  He risks a riot and if that happens again, he could lose his jurisdiction and even his life if Caesar is in a foul mood when he hears of it.   His wife even sends him a message telling him to have nothing to do with this man because of a dream she has, but in all truth, there is nothing that he can truly do to stop it.  It’s all going forward like a train wreck, and all he can do is stand back and watch.  “Let it be…”

It’s sad when i consider the Pharisees.  They go through all of this work and trouble.  Why?  Because they truly believe that Jesus is a threat to God / YHWH; because they are constantly trying to fight the Roman invasion and raping and pillaging of their culture, religion, and people and are taking it out on Jesus; or because their pride has been hurt hurt by this teacher that makes them look like fools and idiots when they are the most dedicated and learned men of their times?  Here are “men of God” doing everything that they can to destroy what they should be rejoicing to have.  The Pharisees have spent all of their lives pursuing the truth the only way they know and have been taught how.  Now this young upstart turns around, is attempting to destroy so much of what they have worked so hard to build, and the only way to stop him is to break the very laws that they have spent their lives dedicated to studying, understanding, living and teaching.  I look at that, and I come to the conclusion… “If not but for the grace of God, there go I”

Christ is on trial, but the trial is not His.  It is theirs.  It is mine.  They have been placed in the balance and have been found lacking.  Yet, if not for a 2000 years difference, and they could have been me.  “If not but for the grace of God…”

Rev.  John

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Matthew 26 – 2 – Revenge of the Pharisees

Preparations have been made and the time has come.  There is only to wait, and rest, and meet the promised fate.  Jesus takes the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  The disciples, having had a very busy week, having just completed a big meal, and being unaware of what is about to happen simply cannot keep their eyes open to pray.  Thus Jesus last moments alone with his disciples end up with Him being truly alone.  Just Him speaking with His Father, YHWH.

It’s rather sad that Jesus, the Son of God, is being betrayed by one of His own.  These 12 disciples have followed Him for three years now.  They have seen the miracles He has done.  They have seen Him walk on water, heal the blind, cast out demons, raise the dead, and more.  They have heard Him teach.  They have heard all the stories about the Kingdom of Heaven, that it is at hand, what it is like,  the need for repentance, and what role they will play there.  They have even gone out and done and taught the same things with people healed at their hands.  Yet, one of their own.  One from the big 12 is in the process of betraying Him…  of betraying them all.  Yet there it is.  Not only does he betray Jesus, he betray’s Him with a kiss… and they all go tumbling down.  His disciples, including His closest three, all scatter.

What happens next is absolutely amazing.  The Pharisees, high priests and elders have Him arrested.  That’s a great idea!  Only they don’t exactly have their act together.  They are fumbling around trying to figure out what to charge Jesus with, and even bringing forward people bear false witness against Him (the 10th commandment).  Yet even with all of this, they still can’t seem to get their act together.  There seems to be a bit of a spirit of confusion about the place.  It takes Jesus Himself giving them the ammunition that they need before they are able to clearly bring a case against Him.

Meanwhile, Peter is watching all of this from the sidelines, full of fear of what is going to happen and what could happen to Him if he is caught.  In the process, he is caught.  People recognize him, and call him out.  So while Judas, the least of the Apostles, betray’s Judas to the Pharisees; Peter, the greatest of the Apostles deny’s Him for fear of the Pharisees.  It looks like the Pharisees are getting their revenge.

Yet, there is always hope…

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Matthew 23 – Pharisees (Conclusion)

This appears to be the third and final chapter explaining and critiquing the Pharisees and Jesus wrath on them.

It’s interesting because after spending the past two chapters criticizing the Pharisees and their many problems, in the first part of this chapter Jesus strikes a different kind of tone.  He had been telling the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and He had been comparing them to disobedient sons, wicked men who lease a vineyard, subjects of a king who refuse to obey the king, and more.  Now however, Jesus instructs His disciples differently.  “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.”  So even though the Pharisees have been evil in so many different ways, the disciples are still to have obedience towards them (to some extent).  They have been placed in a place of leadership.  The disciples are still to observe them and obey them, but they are to disregard their actions and life application.  That’s kind of a surprising thing to hear from Jesus after so much lambasting.  However, it does parallel Old Testament commands to obey the leaders of the people, but that we should obey God / YHWH over them.

Jesus then continues on to speak eight woe’s to the scribes and Pharisees (hypocrites): Woe to you…

  1. … you prevent others from entering the kingdom of heaven, and you refuse to enter yourself.
  2. …”you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers
  3. … you travel all over to make one disciple and make them twice the son of Satan as you are.
  4. … you make a big deal about the treasures of the temple and the sacrifices (that give them wealth), and you disregard the purpose and reason for it.
  5. … you focus on the minuscule details of the law, but you ignore the major points like justice, mercy, & faithfulness.
  6. … you clean and make pretty the outside of the cup, but you ignore what is important inside.
  7. … (directly related) you appear / act righteously, but you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
  8. … you build the tombs of the prophets and honor them saying, “If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.“, but you are going to do exactly as you say you would not do!

There is such a contrast here!  Christ says to follow the law and the leaders of the law, yet in the very next breath He is condemning the very same people!  I don’t know how well most American’s in today’s world can understand and relate to this principle.  Too often we feel that if the leader is unjust we should not have listen to them or  to do what they say.  That somehow the leader’s obedience / disobedience to the law or even our own expectations some how precludes our loyalty or obedience.  That does not fit with what Christ is saying here.

What do you think?

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 22 – Gauntlet Pie

Matthew 22 is a direct extension of Matthew 21.  In my Bible i have actually crossed out the chapter number for 22 to de-emphasize the separation.  Overall, the day that these chapters represent would have been a day to sell tickets to, pop some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show!  Things are starting to get interesting!

Jesus begins the discussion with a parable.  A kings son is getting married and he invites the important people to the wedding feast, but no one is willing to go.  Rather they abuse and kill his messengers.  So he destroys them, and he invites strangers from the street… anyone willing to come.  The Pharisees know that this parable is directed towards them, so they fire a couple of volleys back.  They try to trap Jesus between the law of the land and the sentiment of the people.  Jesus walks through that trap pretty easily.  Next the Sadducees (who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead) test Him.  Jesus not only clears that trap, but He also answers to and clarifies the truth / theology to respond to their confused beliefs.  So instead they send in a legal expert to test Him.  The legal expert questions Jesus, and of course He answers beautifully.  Finally, Jesus asks them a tough question about the Messiah and how the Messiah does not fit their viewpoint / expectations.

All of this silences the pharisees… “No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.”  He wins the debate.  He wins the day, and many of His enemies are now solidified against Him.  Ultimately though, it’s all part of the plan, and He prevails.

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Matthew 21 – Jesus & the Pharisees

Things are starting to come together.  The end is nigh and the countdown is beginning.  This chapter begins with the triumphal entry.  Jesus enters Jerusalem for His / the final passover.  The disciples find the colt as He predicts.  He rides the colt into Jerusalem with the bystanders worshiping YHWH and giving Him adoration calling for Him to fulfill His mission as Messiah to save  them and desiring Him to free them from Roman tyranny.  However, as is the case quite often, our expectations of what YHWH should do, and what He does, are two different things.  Even when we have the same message / prediction.

Christ comes in and begins the process of redemption and rescue from tyranny… He drives the money changers and the seats of those who were selling in the temple.  Those who were turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves.

The next morning he was hungry and came upon a barren fig tree.  It should have had fruit, but it didn’t.  He cursed it, and it began to wither and die.  This is a great analogy of the pharisees.  They too are not bearing fruit to righteousness.  As a result, they begin to wither and die as Christ sacrifices Himself to build the church.

The rest of this chapter is focused on this dynamic action – reaction of Jesus and the Pharisees.  They challenge His authority wanting to know what right He has to teach preach, and do these things.  Christ in turn He puts their actions and those of sinners into perspective.  He shows that knowing the law and being sinless are two very different things, and He criticizes them for it.

Jesus continues with another parable about a landowner who builds a vineyard, rents it out to vine-dressers, and sends his servants out to collect the fruits of the vineyard.  The vine-dressers instead beat the representatives and eventually kill the owner’s son.  This is the final truth of their relationship.  The pharisees will kill the landowner’s son, but the landowner will destroy the vine-dressers and redeem His people.

The relationship between Jesus and the pharisees is such a contrast.  Jesus cares for the fruit of the vine, while most of the Pharisees care more about what they can get from the fruit than they do about caring for the fruit.  They are killing the vineyard from the inside out, and they just didn’t seem to care.  This dynamic seems to define and explain all that follows.  It is  the reason and purpose for all that follows.

This is a key turning point in Jesus ministry and the pharisees focus when it comes to Jesus.

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 16 – Response

It’s interesting to look at (compare & contrast) the responses of the action’s / reactions between Jesus, the disciples, and the Pharisees.  I’d say that by this time many of the Pharisees are getting a little fed up with Jesus.   So they decide that they are going to respond to Him by testing Him.  They ask Jesus for a sign that He is who He says He is.  Of course you know that Jesus is not going to just make things easy for them.  He already knows what’s in their hearts, so He criticizes them for not seeing (or ignoring) the signs that are there right in front of them.

So Jesus, understanding the Pharisees, turns around later and tells His disciples to beware of the leaven (teachings) of the Pharisees.  They don’t get it at first, but after some prompting, they catch on.  So Jesus finally comes to them and asks them about their response to who He is.  Peter is the only one who seems to give a real and solid response.  He tells Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus response is high praise of Peter.

So now, because of the response He is given, Christ begins to put a little more depth / meat into His teachings.  He foretells His death and explains the cost of following Him.  Of course we know how the (hi)story goes, but they didn’t at that time.

I wanted to touch on Peter’s “good’ confession here as it has some very interesting facets.  I love the play on words that Jesus does here.  Peter says to Jesus, “You are the Christ (Kristos) the Son of the Living God.”  Jesus responds that this is not something that Peter discovered, but rather something that was revealed to him by the Father.  It’s what Jesus says that is so interesting:  “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”  The name Peter is the Greek word “petros”.  It means a small stone.  The picture that i get here is of a rock that you would use to skip on a pond.  The word “rock” in this verse is “Petra”  which means a very large rock, a bedrock, or a foundational stone.  So we have Jesus telling Peter, “You are a small stone, and on this huge froundational stone I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will on overtake it.

So if the foundational stone is not Peter, then what is it?  It is this truth; “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  This is such an amazing picture, because out of the small stone, the pebble if you will, comes the bedrock of truth.  The pebble speaks forth the mountain.  Isn’t that an amazing picture?!  The pebble is not the foundation / mountain, but out of the small stone / pebble comes that which is the foundation / mountain.  It is an amazing picture!

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Matthew 12 – The Changing of the Guard

In this chapter we really begin to see a different side of Jesus.  So far in Matthew, we have seen Jesus heritage and his ministry.  We have seen where He came from, His lineage and his birth, including how the prophecies were coming true.  We have also looked at His temptation and His ministry.  His message for his disciples and how He responds to the peoples needs.  His working of miracles and His compassion are key principles so far, but now we begin to really see a different side of Jesus in this chapter.

It starts out with Jesus and His disciples walking through some fields one Sabbath.  The disciples began to pick and eat the grain as they walked.  The Pharisees ever watching and lofty eye searching for something, began criticizing the disciples for this.  Jesus began to shine the light on the situation reminding the Pharisees that the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  In response, Jesus comes into their synagogue and heals a man.

The Pharisees are furious, and seek to destroy Him.  They call Him the devil, and criticize all that He does.  Yet the people keep coming and Jesus continues to heal and minister.  Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and their actions.  He defines a tree by its fruit and a man by his actions.  Thus He condemns the Pharisees and flips the Israelite society on its head.  He shows that it is not about having lofty words and the proper lineage, it’s about obedience to the one to who obedience is due.  It’s about pursuing God and the truth, not about following a bunch of rules for the sake of the rules… that’s not to say that the rules are to be rejected.  Jesus, the Christ, did not reject the rules.  In fact He lived in them and embodied them… but rather pursuing the Father, the creator of the world and the rules.

Jesus goes even further by redefining the very nature of family.  He states that those who do his will are His brothers and mother, not those who He is born to / with.

We see in this chapter Jesus going from ministering to the people, to rejecting and correcting the sin and corruption of the leadership.  We see an outright attack against the Pharisees: “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. ”  We see a changing of the guard.

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