“In Peace With Everyone” ( 1 John 4:20-21, KJV ) by Carley Evans


The Pharisees Question Jesus
The Pharisees

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

Not only does Jesus command that we love our brothers but that we love our enemies. I hear a lot about ‘tough’ love, but I don’t recall Jesus ever speaking of a love that’s anything but generous.

Yes, Jesus gets angry with the moneychangers in the temple and He chastises those who would profit from the woes of others. Yes, He scolds the Pharisees whose spiritual pride is a huge stumbling block to their walk with God.

Nevertheless, Jesus tells us to go two miles with the man who would force us to go one mile. He tells us to give our coat to the man who also demands our shoes. As far as it is up to us, Jesus calls us to live in peace with everyone.

Jesus is God. We are not.

“God’s Scattered People” ( John 11: 52, KJV ) by Carley Evans


Caiaphas, as high priest in the year of Jesus’ crucifixion, predicts Jesus is the savior of the nation Israel; but also the One to bring together “the children of God scattered abroad.” He says to the Pharisees, upset that Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead, worried they are to lose “both their place and nation” that they “know nothing at all.” (John 11:48,49) He says,

“Nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” (John 11:50)

Caiaphas rightly predicts Jesus is to die for the nation of Israel, writes John in his gospel, but Caiaphas also predicts the gathering of the scattered people of God from the ends of the earth.

A scene in the movie X MEN comes to mind. Professor Xavier is sitting in his wheelchair in a large chamber searching for the mutants who exist all over the world. They light up in his mind like stars as he reaches out with his thoughts.

To think God is less than a character in a comic book is ridiculous. If Professor Xavier finds his people with his thoughts, then God can gather together His people scattered throughout the world and throughout the dimension of time.

Caiaphas doesn’t know, but he speaks of God’s ultimate undertaking — the salvation of His children through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

“Live In God’s Word” ( John 8: 31-32, Wycliffe ) by Carley Evans


Jesus teaches in the temple. While He is sitting on the ground, presumably in one of the many open areas, a group of Pharisees bring a young woman caught in adultery and challenge Jesus with the Law of Moses. The Law calls for her death by stoning, they remind. Jesus writes in the dirt with His finger, “as though He heard them not.” (John 8:6, KJV) The Pharisees ask Jesus again. Jesus stands up, and famously states that anyone of them who feels he is without sin may go ahead with the stoning. Then Jesus sits back down and continues to write in the dirt. One by one, the Pharisees “being convicted by their own conscience” leave. Who leaves first? The eldest, of course. The longer we live, the more sin convicts us. Jesus stands again, sees that none of the Pharisees remain to stone the woman as the Law of Moses requires. He asks the young woman where are her accusers. “Hath no man condemned thee?” (John 8:10) She says, “No man, Lord.” Jesus says if no man is left to condemn her, then neither is He to condemn her.  “Go,” He tells her, “and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

Jesus then turns back to the Pharisees and tells them who He is: that He is the Light of the world and the Son of God. Many believe Him. To those, Jesus says:

“31 If ye dwell in my word, verily ye shall be my disciples;

32 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

To those who continue to protest that they are slaves to no man, Jesus says they are slaves to sin. These men have learned nothing from the earlier event, when Jesus does not condemn the young woman caught in adultery. Jesus tells them,

“37 I know that ye be Abraham’s sons, but ye seek to slay me, for my word taketh not in you.”

The Pharisees continue to strongly protest, saying:

“Abraham is our father.” Jesus says to them, “If ye be the sons of Abraham, do ye the works of Abraham.

40 But now ye seek to slay me, a man that have spoken to you [the] truth, that I heard of God.”

Jesus says to live in His Word. His Word sets you free, free from the Law of sin and death. No need for stones to cast at others, or at ourselves. Jesus says, “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I. Go, and sin no more.”

 

“Take Courage!” ( Acts 23: 11, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Ananias orders Paul to be struck in the mouth. Paul says, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!” (Acts 23:3) Some overhear Paul’s angry remark, and say, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” Paul responds, “Brothers, I did not realize that he is the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'” (Acts 23:4-5)

Paul “stands on trial because of [his] hope in the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 23:6) The Sadducees and Pharisees, who disagree as to whether or not there is a resurrection of the dead, argue in “a great uproar.” (Acts 23:9) The commander is “afraid Paul will be torn to pieces by them. He orders the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.” (Acts 23:10)

Jesus, on the following night, “stands near Paul and says, ‘Take courage!'” (Acts 23:11) Jesus tells Paul that he is to “also testify in Rome” about Him.

The very next morning, a conspiracy develops among some Jews who swear to kill Paul. Paul’s nephew hears of this plot, goes to the barracks and warns his uncle. Paul sends his nephew to the commander, who arranges for Paul to “be taken safely to Governor Felix.” (Acts 23:24)

Governor Felix keeps Paul in prison for two years, calling for him frequently, hoping Paul will bribe him. The Jews attempt again to plot their murder of Paul, but fail when the new governor, Festus declines to transfer Paul to Jerusalem. While in Caesarea, Paul appeals to Caesar. King Agrippa arrives. Festus explains that the Jews’ accusations against Paul are surprising and unexpected. He tells the king that “they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claims is alive.” (Acts 25:19)

Paul makes his case to King Agrippa. “Now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:6-8) King Agrippa knows Paul should be set free, except he has appealed to Caesar.

Paul along with other prisoners sail to Italy, but “the ship is caught by the storm” and “takes such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they begin to throw the cargo overboard.” (Acts 27:15,18) They “finally give up all hope of being saved.” (Acts 27:20)

An angel of the Lord stands beside Paul that night and says, “Do not be afraid, Paul.” The angel reminds him of Jesus’ words spoken several years earlier –“As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

Paul says to his fellow prisoners, “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.” (Acts 27:25) “Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” (Acts 27:34)

Finally Paul reaches Rome; he calls the leaders of the Jews together to discover that no negative reports have come to them from Judea. Paul is free to preach the gospel, to testify about Jesus for two years “boldly and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:31)

“No Place For Human Pride” ( 1 Corinthians 1: 30, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“There is no place for human pride in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1: 30)

 

When Jesus heals a demon-possessed man of his blindness and deafness, the Pharisees say, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” (Matthew 12:24, NIV) Jesus tells them, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:30-31, NIV)

 

In His hometown, Jesus offends His neighbors — people who’ve known Him all His life. Jesus says, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (Matthew 13:57, NIV)

 

The Pharisees complain against Jesus’ disciples, accusing them of not washing their hands before eating. Jesus replies, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3, NIV) He reminds the Pharisees that they avoid financially supporting their own mothers and fathers via setting aside money as a gift to God. “Thus,” says Jesus, “you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition.” (Matthew 15:6, NIV)

 

The Pharisees and Sadducees ask Jesus to “show them a sign from heaven.” Jesus tells them, “you know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:1,3-4, NIV)

 

Human pride is reflected in each of these encounters. The Pharisees are awash with self-righteousness and self-aggrandizement. Jesus says, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child never enters it.” (Mark 10:14-15, NIV)

 

In the presence of Jesus, there is no place for human pride.

“Love Manifests Itself” ( Deuteronomy 13: 4, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“You must follow the Lord your God and fear Him; you must keep His commandments and obey Him, serve Him and hold fast to Him.”

 

Walking along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sees two fishermen brothers – Simon and Andrew. “Jesus says to them, ‘Come with Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ And at once they leave their nets and follow Him.” (Matthew 4: 19-20)

 

Jesus may have told them, “Come to Me, [you] whose work is hard, whose load is heavy; and I will give you relief. Bend your necks to My yoke, and learn from Me, for I Am gentle and humble-hearted; and your souls will find relief. For My yoke is good to bear, my load is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)

 

The Pharisees want to know what is the greatest commandment. Jesus answers, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. That is the greatest commandment. It comes first. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. Everything in the Law and the prophets hangs on these two commandments.’ ” (Matthew 22: 37-40)

 

Love manifests itself, says Jesus. He speaks of the final day when “those on His right hand” receive God’s blessings. “For when I was hungry, you gave Me food; when thirsty, you gave Me drink; when I was a stranger, you took Me into your home, when naked you clothed Me; when I was ill you came to My help, when in prison you visited Me.”  But, those to His right hand do not realize what He is saying to them, so He clarifies: “I tell you this: anything you did for one of My brothers here, however humble, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:35-37, 40)

 

“In a word, there are three things that last for ever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love. Put love first.” (1 Corinthians 13: 13-14:1)

“Even Demons Believe” (John 8: 31 – 32, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus speaks to the scribes and Pharisees, telling each that He is the light of the world, that He is going away and that they will not find Him when they seek Him; instead they “will die in [their] sin.” (John 8: 21)

“As He is saying these things, many believe in Him.” (John 8: 30)

He tells the Jews who believe in Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

These same Jews who believe in Him nevertheless do not accept that they need Him. They protest, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.” (John 8: 33)

Jesus tells them they are slaves to sin. He tells them they “do what [they] hear from [their] father.” (John 8: 38) They claim Abraham as their father. Jesus tells them that the devil is their father. “The reason you do not hear [the Words of God] is that you are not of God.” (John 8: 47)

These Jews who believe in Him say He has a demon. They say He can not possibly be greater than Abraham. Jesus claims, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” (John 8: 58)

“So [the Jews who believe in Him] pick up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hides Himself and goes out of the temple.” (John 8: 59)