Jesus’s Challenge

“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts” (Luke 20:46).

Not only was Jesus not associated with the religious leaders of his time, but he stood in direct opposition to them. In Luke 20, the Scribes and Pharisees questioned Jesus’s authority. “and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority”” (Luke 20:2). They spent years studying the Torah and had risen to the ranks of religious leadership. In their minds, Jesus was a common person from among the Jews, who had sprung up to religious leadership. Large crowds followed Jesus and he healed the sick, worked miracles and taught the gospel with boldness and authority.

Jesus would have confused and upset the religious order of his time. One of the main challenge was that, he demonstrated how their religious interpretations of the law, kept people in bondage. Many people did not find the religious doctrines accessible. “And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers” (Luke 11:46). In this instance, Jesus was invited to a meal with a Pharisee. The Pharisee was concerned that Jesus did not wash his hands before sitting to eat.

In Jewish culture, ceremonial washing called netilat yadayim is observed, which is the washing of the hands with a cup. This washing was more about a religious ritual for the Jews, than it was about cleansing and hygiene. As such, a person who did not wash would be judged as ungodly or going against the laws of the Torah. “And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness” (Luke 11:39). Jesus was angry at the Pharisees’ and Scribes’ sense of importance, without a love for the things of God.

Jesus’s life and entry was not traditional or contemporary and he poked holes in a lot of religious ideas. It is easy for the church to sway into religious ideology and lose sight of the mandate to win souls for God. This happens when we strain over rules and regulations, over and above our love for people. We cannot burden people with dogma and lord our standards of holiness over them. Once we teach people the word and lead them to experience the love of God, a transformation will take place. We cannot take the place of God in people’s lives and our love for God should be more important than enforcing rules and personal judgement.

A.P.-Y.

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