Pharisees and Sadducees

A camp song that was popular for many years when my kids were growing up was “I Just Wanna Be A Sheep”. One verse of the song says, “I don’t wanna be a Pharisee cause they’re not fair you see.” Another verse says “I don’t wanna be a Sadducee cause they’re so sad you see.” Why weren’t the Pharisees fair in their dealings with others? Jesus couldn’t have summarized it more succinctly: “I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.” John 5:42.

It is rather ironic that the Pharisees appeared to be such precise followers of the law, yet Jesus rebuked them for law-breaking! “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Matthew 15:3 They missed what the law really demanded--Love! A former Pharisee named Paul finally understood this and under inspiration expressed the relationship between law and love beautifully: “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10. Unfortunately, some Bible students have interpreted this to mean that love is a replacement of the law. That is twisted reasoning. There is no contradiction between law and love. “Love is a principle that seeks and maintains ideal relationships”-Leslie Hardinge. Law is simply a description of how true love functions.

Pharisees accept the letter of the law (sort of ) but miss its spirit. A tape measure can measure external dimensions but it can’t measure internal pressure like a tire gauge. God’s law is capable of both! It measures external behavior but more importantly the internal pressure, the driving motive or force in the heart. Another problem with the Pharisees is that they thought righteousness could come from the law. A tape measure cannot change the dimensions of an object any more than the law itself can change the character. A tire gauge cannot add pressure to a tire, neither can the law of God change our inner motivations. Only Jesus can do that! 

The Sadducees were “sad you see” because [they] “deny that there is a resurrection.” Luke 20:27. There are a lot of people today who don’t believe in the resurrection. That’s why they are “sad you see[s].” For them, this life is all there is. They may hide their sadness but it's there because God has put the desire for eternity in their hearts. Deep down we know we were not supposed to be temporary. God desires through you and me to rekindle that hidden hope that there is a resurrection in the future. And that leads me to my final point about another group of Sadducees. They may believe with their head that there is a future resurrection but they know nothing of the only resurrection that can prepare them for the future resurrection. I speak of the spiritual resurrection that takes place when the Holy Spirit comes into us: “So when we were baptized, we were buried with Christ and took part in his death.

And just as Christ was raised from death by the wonderful power of the Father, so we can now live a new life.” Romans 6:4 Easy to Read Version.” The wonderful power of the "Father” this verse speaks of is the Holy Spirit. Notice a similar passage in Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you.” Good News Translation

Really this concept of life from Christ is the solution for both Pharisees and Sadducess isn’t it? Will you choose with me to live in this reality of a new life in Christ? “You were raised from death with Christ. So live for what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Think only about what is up there, not what is here on earth. Your old self has died, and your new life is kept with Christ in God. Yes, Christ is now your life, and when he comes again, you will share in his glory. Colossians 3:1-4 Easy to Read Version.

Related Information

Chapel Oaks Blog