Worried Pharisees As Leaders

It’s in the Gospel of John. Jesus had brought Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for four days. No chance it had been of of those fluke “not dead, but appeared dead” phenomena.

This act had caught the attention of “the people.”

It also caught the attention of the leaders of the Jewish religion. The priests and the Pharisees.

John must have been tapped in with that group. Maybe relatives? He quotes them often. In this case, he gets the scoop on another of their committee meetings.

“What are we going to do with this guy?” they ask among themselves. “The people are starting to turn toward him. He could become their leader.”

The spoken fear—that Jesus will start an armed insurrection and draw the anger of the Romans. These trained, professional, and vicious fighters would march in, destroy the Temple, kill them all, and disperse the nation.

The unspoken fear—that Jesus will replace them as leaders and then how would they live with no power, no income, no prestige.

Wait a minute? The Pharisees as leaders????

I have always imagined them as a group of sour-faced, unpleasant, party killers. The roam the land in packs looking for people having fun and telling them how bad they are. “If only you were like us,” they would say, “then everything would be right in the world.”

But I thought some more. They probably were leaders. 

And we have them still today!

How many of our churches are overrun with Pharisees? They make up rules. Often, but not always, with some sort of Biblical base. These are rules they can follow (mostly). Then they can compare others to themselves and declare themselves righteous. And they attract followers in their own mold. 

And the rules go marching on.

And Jesus—after they figured out the only solution was to kill him, he went and surprised them by returning to life and leading the insurrection anyways. And the Romans came in, not because of Jesus, and leveled the Temple and destroyed the Jewish Temple cult scattering the people. 

“It is better that one man should die rather than the whole people,” said the high priest. Irony. And more ironies.

Have you found that freedom from the Pharisees with Jesus? It’s there for the taking.

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