Matthew 12:1-14 How to know if you are a Pharisee

1)   Pharisees add to or misinterpret the Bible

It was the Sabbath and Jesus and the disciples were walking and along the way the disciples plucked some grain as they walked. The roads would wind through farmers’ fields with the grain being grown right up to the road and so travelers would reach over and grab some wheat as they walked. This was a common practice and was acceptable for any traveler to take a handful of grain especially if they were hungry.  (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 23:24-25)

The Pharisees established all of these rules and regulations making the Sabbath not a day of rest but a day of miserable demands to make sure they did not break the Sabbath. They actually made it easier to go to work than to enjoy the Sabbath and enjoy it as a day of rest.

Some of the restrictions of the Sabbath were that you could not carry something heavier than a dried fig. If it was half the weight of a dried fig then you could carry it twice. You could not take a bath because if the water spilt on the ground that would be considered washing the floor which would be considered work. A woman was not allowed to look in a mirror because she might see a gray hair and pluck it out causing her to work.

These regulations and many more  is why Jesus said come to me and I will give you rest. The Sabbath was supposed to be a time to focus on God but instead they focused on things missing the whole point of the Sabbath.

Read 12:3  Have you not read?

Once again the sarcasm of Jesus comes out as He addresses the Pharisees. They would had taken this as a slam because they read and knew the Bible and considered themselves the experts of the Torah. Jesus is letting them know that their interpretation of the Sabbath was backwards and that they had made the man-made traditions more important than even God Himself.

Jesus uses a story from 1 Samuel 21:1-6 where King David went in and took the loaves of bread from the altar that only the priest were supposed to eat. Jesus also mentions the priest who by their very work on the Sabbath do not hold any  of the Sabbath commands. Even though everyone did not hold such a narrow view of the Sabbath, the Pharisees did and Jesus was showing them the discrepancies of their beliefs.

If we are not careful we can make the Bible say things that God did not say. If the Bible is clear on a subject then we need to teach it but if it is not clear we must allow the tension to stand and trust that God’s purposes for not allowing us to know something is for a reason. We need to allow scripture to speak and that goes for those who add to the Bible and those who like to take passages that are clear and twist and distort them so that they can continue to live in a life of sin.

2)   Pharisees notice others sins more than their own

The Pharisees and their wrong beliefs were  following Jesus and His disciples waiting for them to trip up. We have a tendency to see the faults in others lives while ignoring our own but when we purposely watch others to see if they break a commandment, even one we twisted or made up, then we are becoming a Pharisee.

We need to look in the mirror at our own problems instead of getting a magnifying glass and focusing on others problems.

3)   Pharisees focus on religious practices instead of people.

 One Greater than the Temple

They were so focused on finding fault that they missed the Messiah right in front of them. In  verse 6 Jesus says one greater than the temple is here and yet they did not understand. You can come to church and do a bunch of religious activity and miss Jesus. The temple was more important than the priest so Jesus was saying that I go way above and beyond the very thing you count as so important. If the temple practices took priority over the Sabbath than how much more does Jesus take priority while on earth?

If the priest are innocent on the Sabbath than the disciples serving Jesus are innocent as well because they were with the one that the Temple and it’s practices pointed to.

Have you missed out on what Church and its practices are pointing to?

Have you ever thought that God could be right in front of you but you have missed Him because of your religious practices?

Read Matthew 12: 9-14

It seems as though the Pharisees are just trying to bait Jesus into a trap but Jesus once again points out the error of their ways. He tells them that they would not leave a Sheep in the ditch on the Sabbath so how much more should we help a human being.

When a sheep would fall in a ditch they would either throw food to the sheep or they would put things down so the sheep could walk out by themselves so as to keep from lifting the sheep out which would be considered work. Of course some people just lifted the sheep out because it was easier and Jesus knowing this pointed that out to them.

Jesus heals the man to show that a human being should be treated better than a sheep and that human traditions do not take precedence over human beings. They had rules that if someone was sick they could only help them enough to keep them alive but not bring them to full healing until the Sabbath was over.

When we put our religious traditions above the very people we should be ministering to then we become Pharisees.  

4)   We all have Pharisee traits

You Might be a Pharisee (In your Jeff Foxworthy Voice Read these)

1)      If you set boundaries for yourself  like not going to the movies, and expect others to follow them… You might be a Pharisee

2)      If you are keenly aware of the mistakes of others without noticing your own…You might be a Pharisee

3)      If you criticize others behind their back instead of  addressing them one on one…You might be a Pharisee

4)      If you notice how bad others peoples kids are but do not notice how bad your children are…You might be a Pharisee

5)      If you demand a lifestyle from your pastor that you yourself do not live up to…You might be a Pharisee

6)      If you complain about the churches ministries but do not offer to help….You might be a Pharisee

7)      If you only look at someone’s outer appearance without getting to know them….You might be a Pharisee

8)      If you will not spend time with anyone who does not share your political views…You might be a Pharisee

9)      If you call what others do a sin but what you do a bad habit…You might be a Pharisee

10)   If you shared a prayer request as a way of gossiping…You might be a Pharisee

11)   If you sat here and read these and tried to justify your actions….You might be a Pharisee

12)   If you thought of passages of scripture to send to Eulie to rebuke him for doing this…You might be a Pharisee

The Key is to examine ourselves and not just look at what is going in other peoples lives. This does not mean that we are not to just allow others to continue in destructive lifestyles and especially as Christians we are commanded to hold one another accountable. If we are going to call people out the Bible gives us clear guidelines on how we should go about it in Matthew 18.

If someone is not a Christian than our first concern should be introducing them to Christ not getting them to clean up their act. We need to learn from Jesus that realized their spiritual life led them to change and not the other way around.

Where is the person at spiritually should be our first concern not the sins they are committing. Yes if someone is doing drugs we may need to intervene but at the same time if we only judge them for their outward appearance instead of their spiritual need than we missed bringing them to the one who can help them.

5)   What should we do about the Sabbath

“ Some Christians have erroneously called Sunday the Sabbath, but the Sabbath is, by definition, the seventh day of the week. Furthermore, some Christians suggest that the Bible teaches that Sunday has replaced Saturday and serves as a “ Christian Sabbath” But admittedly, this is nowhere clearly taught in the Bible.” (The Lords Day- Baptist Faith and Message Article 8, by Hershael York)

God did not need rest but He showed an example of what man should do.The reason we worship on Sundays is because the Disciples and the first followers of Christ met on the first Sunday of the week because that is when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them.

John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

In Revelation 1:10 it became to be known as The Lords Day not to be confused with The Day of the Lord.

 “The Lords Day is another effect of the resurrection. It is remarkable thing that the apostles who were Jews should turn from the observance of their time-honored Sabbath day, which had been given in Eden and had been made a sign of their covenant relation with God )Exod. 31:13; Ezek. 20:12,20) to Sunday Worship. (lectures in Systematic Theology, pg 247, Henry Clarence Thiessen)

Colossians 2:16-17 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

So from the Disciples till now the church has observed a time of reflection and worship of what Christ did through His death and resurrection.We cannot become Pharisees with our Sundays but at the same time we need to ask some tough questions.

Do you take time every week to focus on Christ?

Do you take time every day to focus on Christ?

We are followers of Jesus but just like the disciples we are called to come and spend time with Him. If we do not pause in our busy lives to reflect on God and what He is doing as we work alongside of Him. Just like the Pharisees watched a miracle happen when a mans shriveled up hand was healed, so we can miss God working right in front of us if we are not tuned into Him and what He is doing.  We have to be careful that we are not showing up to church while missing the activity of God right in front of us.

Chronos: Chronological clock time- the time people fill, kill and use up.

Kairos: the  opening of an opportunity in time. It is when something happens that changes people.

It is a time for us to take a break from work and reflect on God in all of our activities that day. Just like spending time with someone we love we do it because it is not the activity but the person that we grow closer to. God established a time of rest for us so that we would take time off and we would pause and reflect on Him and His word.

Has Sunday just become another day?

If you can’t take  time on Sunday when can you?


This entry was posted in Matthew. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *