Posts Tagged ‘the Pharisees and Jesus’

Why do some professing Christians seem to hate particular Christian leaders?  That’s what I recently asked Dave Rolph, today’s guest blogger.

Pastor Dave Rolph

Dave is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills in Aliso Viejo, California:  http://www.ccpacifichills.org/

Dave is also the teacher on the nationally-syndicated radio program The Balanced Word (he’s one of the best Bible teachers I know) and is the editor of The Word for Today Bible: http://www.amazon.com/Word-Today-Bible-Chuck-Smith/dp/0718009029/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386010957&sr=1-1&keywords=the+word+for+today+bible

Aside from his impressive credentials, Dave has been my friend through thick and thin for 45 years.  We attended the same church, graduated from the same college and seminary, and rooted for the same sports teams.

Here are Pastor Dave’s thoughts on this timely topic:

I think sometimes we are too hard on the Pharisees.  We are amazed by the fact that they rejected Jesus, hated Him, and were ultimately complicit in killing Him.  And while we rightfully regard them as being wrong, we are sometimes unfairly ignoring why they were the way they were.  When I put myself in the place of a Pharisee, I can at least understand their motivation.

The Pharisees were good, well-meaning people.  They knew the Bible well, and were plugged in with history and tradition.  They understood that all the past problems of the Jewish people had come about because of an attitude of syncretism, whereby their faith was watered down by paganism.

This compromise had been the cause of hundreds of years of slavery, and they were determined that they would never compromise again.  You can understand why they were frightened by this new, young radical rabbi named Jesus.

His teachings were unbiblical, in their eyes.  He was twisting the traditional practices and understandings, and reinterpreting their long-held convictions.

Associations were so important to Pharisees.  It was how they maintained their purity.  But Jesus was associating with all the wrong people.  Of course, the first century brought many radical cult leaders to Israel. Most of them weren’t seen as threats though.  What frightened the Pharisees the most about Jesus was His success.  If He were allowed to continue, He had the potential to swallow up everything they held holy.  He had to be stopped.  The future of the faith was at stake.  So they hated Him and they killed Him.

I get it, but it was tragically wrong.

Jesus told them that by hating and killing Him, they were simply repeating what their fathers had done to every prophet who came before Him.  It occurs to me that the sons of the Pharisees do the same thing, when they are threatened by new success.  It has happened throughout church history, where people were burned at the stake for doing things differently.  Radical ideas like translating the Bible into English, or suggesting that salvation comes by grace through simple faith in Jesus.

I get the hatred, and I understand the fear, but it was tragically wrong.

In my lifetime, I have seen good, conservative, fundamental people who love God, and hate Billy Graham, because he didn’t do things their way.  They didn’t like some of his associations.  They were afraid of his success.

I witnessed the same fear as I was saved, and began my association with Calvary Chapel and Pastor Chuck Smith.  Really good people who I greatly admired, including many of those at the college and seminary I ultimately graduated from, were threatened by a guy who would put dirty hippies on a stage.  These were new methods, new outreaches, and a frightening level of success.  Church as they knew it was in danger.

I now understand the hatred and fear. But it was tragically wrong.

Now almost every day I read about someone who seems to hate Pastor Rick Warren.  They are suspicious of his methodology.  His associations are sometimes disturbing.  He does things differently than they’ve ever been done before.  His success and notoriety are staggering.  His influence is frightening.  His approach threatens to swallow up everything that came before.

I get it. But like before, like always, it is tragically wrong.

I have sympathy for Pharisees.  I understand their motivation.  I have been one on occasion.

But they have always been wrong, and they are still tragically wrong.

What kind of hatred of Christian leaders have you witnessed?

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