Scripture: St. Luke 13:31-35
In our scripture we encounter 3 main characters:
- the pharisees
- King Herod
- our Lord
More often than not, we see the pharisees at odds with Jesus, but here we see them seeking to warn Jesus that King Herod is out to kill Him. The pharisees came to tell Jesus to leave the area, for He was in grave danger. The pharisees are much like you and me; like us we don’t all accept Jesus in the same way.
There were 7 different groups of pharisees. We hear mostly of those who are totally at odds with Jesus and call them the "shoulder pharisees." They wore they faith and actions on their shoulders, that all might see them as they keep the laws of Judaism.
Then there are the "wait –a –little pharisees." These men could always find a good excuse to put off a good deed until the next morning.
The "bruised and bleeding" Jewish rabbis would not talk to any woman in public, not even their wives or mothers. They shut their eyes at an approaching woman, thus often running into someone or tripping over something.
The "humpback pharisees" walked bent over at the waist, always cringing in humility.
The "ever-reckoning pharisees" reckoned that their good deeds would strike a balance sheet of profit and loss with the Lord's love.
The "timid pharisees" or "fearing pharisees," were ever fearful of the wrath of God and what little faith they had brought them very little hope.
Then there was the “God-fearing pharisees” group. This is the group that was drawn somewhat to Jesus and his teaching and warned him of King Herod and his desire to destroy Him.
Jesus called King Herod a fox. It took real courage to call the king a fox.
- The fox was regarded as the sliest of animals in their culture.
- A fox is one of the most destructive animals.
- A fox was a cultural symbol of worthlessness and the insignificant of man.
It took a brave person to call the reigning king a fox. One needed to be aware of what they said about King Herod, who was a very vicious man. Jesus took His orders not from any human king, but from the heavenly King, His Father in heaven.
There is nothing that hurts so much as to give someone your heart and then have them break it, yet all of us break the heart of Jesus from time to time.
As we look at the different groups who make up the pharisee family, we should see that the church today is much like that family. We each have our little special understanding of God’s love that leads to division within the universal church. It also brings down each local church family from time to time, when we must have it our way or we leave that active church family.
Of the different groups of the pharisees mentioned in our scripture, whom do you most identify with?
At the expense of building the church, are we willing to get beyond our differences to glorify our Lord in courage and tenderness? Let us pray.