Jewish Hyprocrites and Believers Waiting for the KingdomVolume 3, Number 56
Created Date: April 3, 2012
Posted Date: April 3, 2012
“Believe” in Matthew, Mark & Luke - Part 23:
Part 2 of the Unjust Steward:
Our last study was about the lesson Jesus taught His disciples with the parable of the unjust steward in. We came here because we've been examining every occasion the Greek word pisteuo; usually translated “believe” is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke and it is used in . However, it is not translated “believe” but instead “commit to trust” in the King James and “trust” in both the NIV and NIrV versions. We saw where Jesus taught His disciples several things with this parable: 1) that worldly unbelievers were much more diligent in their dealings in earthly things than God's people were in dealing with things concerning the Kingdom, ; 2) that the Jewish believers (disciples of Jesus Christ) were to use their money and possessions with the goal to fit themselves for the promised Kingdom on earth, ; 3) and 3) the conclusion: “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” ( )
Jesus' words hit a raw nerve with some Pharisees who were listening in; they were offended and took exception. Today we will examine Jesus' response to them: (Verse 14) “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. (15) And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (16) The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. (17) And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. (18) Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”
The Pharisees derided or sneered at Jesus because they coveted money/ possessions, verse 14. So Jesus addressed them in verses 15 - 18, pointing out that they conducted their lives so as to appear just and righteous: “ye are they which justify yourselves before men.” Verse 15a. But God knew their hearts; that is, the real thoughts and motives behind their actions, verse 15b; He knew their hypocracy: “For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Verse 15c. The Greek word translated “abomination” has to do with idolatry so Jesus was telling them they were idolatrous in their conduct.
Jesus then pointed out in verse 16 that the Law and the Prophets led up to John the Baptist, who was the greatest Prophet of them all,, 13; 17:10 - 13; . (Old Testament prophets pointed to the time when John the Baptist would be sent to prepare the way for Israel's Messiah, ; 11:10, etc.) John the Baptist preached the Kingdom of God; the King James reads “every man pressed into it,” . There is no word in the original Greek transcript for “man” here. The Greek word translated with the two English words “every man” in the King James is “pas,” which can be translated “all, any, every, anyone, as many as,” etc. Other translations render “pas” here as “everyone is forcing their way into it” and “everyone is trying very hard to enter it,” etc. The point is that everyone in Israel was trying to get into the Kingdom. But from the context we learn that the Pharisees were not going about it the right way. Jesus said “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail,” , making clear that any Jew wishing to enter the Kingdom had to obey the law.
Then Jesus quotes a specific point from the Law of Moses: “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”. Jesus used this part of the law as an example of the Pharisee's hypocrisy. He would have known their thoughts, intentions and what they had been up to. Some there had either divorced their wives for no good reason or by the legal actions they had taken, had approved undeserving divorces for others. (Similar to the indulgences subsequently granted by the Catholic Church.) It was an example of how they twisted the Law of Moses as they, as the rulers, made legal decisions. Their reasoning in granting such divorces probably passed muster with men, they “justified themselves before men,” but God knew their hearts and the Son of God revealed that they or others in their group had divorced their wives for no good reason other than to take another woman more to their liking. In doing so they were actually committing adultery, which was contrary to the Law of Moses. The bottom line: these Pharisees made a big show of their observance of the Law of Moses, but they were hypocrites.
Some in Israel repented and were baptized because they believed John the Baptist's message. They realized they were sinners; that they had broken Moses' law in some way and recognized their need to repent. The Law of Moses had taught them their need for a Savior; it brought them to Christ. The law was really meant to demonstrate that it was impossible for any of Adam's race to obey it completely and consistently, day in, day out. It proved this by the fact that continually, year in and year out, they had to present blood sacrifices for violating it. It taught them they were sinners, Hebrew 7:27.
A humble Jew who trusted God by trying to follow the precepts of the law saw their need for a Savior and so they repented and were baptized according to the Gospel proclaimed by John the Baptist. But the Pharisees were not humble. They were proud, self-righteous and fooled themselves into believing they could keep the law by their own strength and ability. They didn't believe they had anything to repent of, so they did not accept John's message and stubbornly continued steadfast on this track right up to the point where they manipulated the Roman system of justice to have Jesus crucified. They rejected what John preached and Jesus presented. God knew their hearts,and Jesus went on to tell those Pharisees the story of the rich man and Lazarus in verses 19 -31; the rich man obviously representing the fate the Pharisees faced after death.
After Israel rejected the offer of the Kingdom by the Apostles, as recorded in the first part of the book of Acts, God revealed to the Apostle Paul that believers,, are saved by the Grace of God, , and are no longer under the law. Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Galatians because after they became believers, there were some who came in and tried to persuade them that they needed to follow the law. Paul wrote to correct this false teaching: “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” . The law was a teacher instructing those under it that they needed a Savior. As pointed out earlier, during the time of Jesus' ministry there were some Jews who got it, they repented and were baptized, and there were some who didn't get it, i.e., the Pharisees.
Paul teaches in Galatians that Jesus Christ is the “faith” that came so that we are no longer under a schoolmaster. He lived a perfect life of faith and actually fulfilled the law in every respect, but He never the less gave up His life for the sins of mankind,. He was the Author and Finisher of Faith; He started and finished it, . Jesus was born without sin so had nothing to repent of, and yet He was baptized by John the Baptist in order to fulfill all that was required at that time, . And because he was without sin, it was only He who could fulfill the Law to the letter, ; . And He did it for us even though we have done nothing to deserve it; that is real Love.
Here's wishing you all a blessed Easter this Sunday, April 8, 2012 as we remember God's Grace (unmerited favor) that has saved us by His gift of faith we received because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 2:8 & 9.