This week at Crossover we continued talking about the book of Mark.
Main Idea: The Pharisees started in love with God, but lost sight of what really mattered.
We also discussed Mark 2-3. Some key takeaways:
- To understand the Pharisees we need to know how they started: Jews returning from exile that never wanted to break God’s law again.
- During small group we discussed how someone who really wants to serve God could end up jaded and blinded like the Pharisees.
- We said the solution is: Loving God, Being Loved by God, and Loving Others. (John15:9-17)
Today we are going to get into Mark chapter 2-3 and see how Jesus’s mission came into tension with the Jewish leaders. In these chapters, Mark lists 7 different conflicts Jesus has, and before we get into the message we are going to look at 6 of them.
First, let’s look at 6 of the 7 conflicts recorded in these chapters. (Students broke into groups and looked at these passages).
- Teachers of the law- Blasphemy Mark 2:1-12
- Pharisees – Immorality Mark 2:13-17
- Pharisee- Unspiritual Mark 2:18-22
- Pharisees- Breaking God’s Law Mark 2:23-28
- Pharisees- Breaking God’s Law Mark 3:1-6
- Teachers of the law – Possession Mark 3:20-30
Obviously, the main lesson we can take away from these passages is not to argue with Jesus. However, I think there is another important truth here. But to get it, we need to first understand the Pharisees.
It’s easy to just think of the Pharisees as the villain in Jesus’s story, but like any good villain- they have a tragic backstory. Right? In any movie or story, the best villains are the ones that aren’t evil for evil’s sake- they are the ones we can sometimes empathize with or even relate to.
Who are some of your favorite villains in stories?
Darth Vader– is easily one of the most powerful or feared, yet his story is all the more tragic because he was supposed to be the one to save everyone, yet he gave in to the dark side.
Thanos– Sure, he is a bad guy who wiped out half the universe, but we learn from his back story that it all started a journey to bring peace and end universal hunger. Of course, he got a little misguided and had to be stopped but you know.
Isabela Madrigal– Sure, she isn’t technically a villain in the movie Encanto, but for the first half we are set up to dislike her and dismiss her as this perfect brat who always gets her way and everyone loves. Later though we learn of her internal struggles and suddenly our view of her shifts.
400 Years Before Jesus:
- The last prophet is sent by God, Malachi
- Israel is disobedient to God and sentenced to be exiled and banished from the land. Some eventually get to return but they are now under the rule of many evil empires. God promised to one day send a Messiah to save them.
- Many Israelites have learned from their parent’s mistakes, and have returned wholeheartedly to following and obeying God’s word; The Torah or what we would call the Old Testament.
- A group of Jews became super passionate about following God’s word 110%. They were called the Hasideans.
- They begin to relearn the Torah and look forward to the promised Messiah who will save them.
167 Years Before Jesus:
- Alexander the Great’s empire splits into 4, and Israel is smack between 2 of them.
- Ptolemaics had Israel, but then lost to the Seleucids.
- They began to outlaw the Jewish religion.
- Even began to force jews to disobey God’s Word.
- Were going to force a priest to sacrifice a pig to Zeus in God’s temple.
- A rebellion breaks out led by Judas Maccabeus (Judas the Hammer).
- The Hasideans join him, and they win. (This is where Hanukkah comes from).
- Many probably thought that Judas Maccabeus was the promised Messiah.
- But Judas dies, and Israel is now conquered by Rome.
- The Hasideans are so passionate about NEVER breaking God’s law, they event new laws. These fence laws were designed to keep them from ever getting close to breaking God’s law like their ancestors did.
- The Hasideans become the Pharisees.
- Over time some Pharisees lose the passion and zeal for God and get distracted by their traditions and rituals. They confuse the two. Others become greedy for power or wealth.
Now, you don’t have to remember all of that but here is the point:
The Pharisees started in love with God, but lost sight of what really mattered.
You guys just read all those encounters they had with Jesus. They are upset at everything He does. They have been so blinded and distracted by what they thought matters, that when the one who really does matter shows up they can’t see Him.
The Pharisees are not those who ignored God and sought the things of this world. Instead, they are followers who started strong, and over time lost their way, to the point they become an enemy of Jesus, the very one they were waiting for.
The lesson of the Pharisees is that you and I, if we are not careful, can end up just like them. We can get focused on rules and rituals but not really love God. Or we can try to be good enough just to others will look at us and be impressed.
The Pharisees read the scriptures more than anyone. By age 12 they were expected to have memorized the first 5 books of the Bible. Think about that. We struggle to memorize one verse. Yet, all that reading made them prideful, not humble.
And we see all of this in the 7th conflict that Mark lists.
One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.
22 But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”
23 Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. 24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. 25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. 27 Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.
28 “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, 29 but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” 30 He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. 32 There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”
33 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Things get so crazy they are accusing Jesus of being possessed. Jesus points out how stupid that logic is and then even His family comes to say “alright Jesus, just calm down a little. Let’s go home”.
Then Jesus makes this statement that His real family is anyone who does God’s will. Jesus says that it isn’t tradition or rituals or knowledge or even flesh and blood that makes someone truly a follower of God.
It’s actually having that relationship and doing the will of God for the right reasons. This sounds to me a lot like John 15.
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Jesus is shortly going to the cross, and before He does He gives this warning and encouragement. Jesus had gathered this group of passionate followers who loved God and wanted to make a difference, but now Jesus is going to be leaving.
What will make His followers different from the Pharisees? What will keep them from becoming blinded like them?
Jesus says it’s love.
Loving God, Being Loved by God, and Loving Others.
It’s being loved by God that first drew us to Him, and that’s what will keep us from falling into the motions or rituals of religion. It’s truly loving God that will keep us from pride or arrogance. And it’s in truly loving others that will keep us from becoming judgmental.
Love is the antidote to the poison of the Pharisees. And their warning stands today to all of us, even me.
If you are not a follower of Christ then today the warning is don’t miss who Jesus is, like the Pharisees did.
If you are a follower of Christ then today the warning is don’t let your passion fade or get distracted. Don’t let your fire go out.
We need to constantly go back to our first love. Remember what God did for us. Spending time with Him so it never grows old or repetitive or stagnant.
So today that’s the challenge: Love God, Be Loved By God, Love Others.
Ice breaker: Judas “The Hammer” is a pretty cool nickname. What is the coolest nickname you were ever given?
We said the way to avoid being like the Pharisees is by loving God, being loved by God, and loving others.
• How do we love God?
• How do we experience God’s love?
• How do we love others?
Some traits of the Pharisees were: self-centered, prideful, arrogant, judgmental, lacking compassion.
• Give an example of how you think they ended up like that, since they started so good. (Example: The Pharisees could have tried so hard to do the right thing that they got really mad when they failed. Then they started getting mad at others too. Soon their desire to see people do good turned into a judgmental attitude)
• Which of the traits we mentioned are easiest for you to fall into?
o Why do you think that is?
o How can you avoid that?
• If Jesus came to Earth today, would most Christians be Pharisees or Disciples?