Week of January 23, 2011

Jesus and religious leaders

As a Jew, Jesus, was very familiar with Jewish religious leaders. Jesus' focus is understood when He stated, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel". Jesus was raised in a family that was obedient to God and loved God so much they made a multi day journey every year to Jerusalem for Passover. As an adult He worshipped God every week and they were so comfortable with Him in His hometown place of worship that they handed Him the scroll of Isaiah to read1. Most of Jesus' supporters and followers were Jews and would have been comfortable with the Hebrew scriptures Jesus frequently quoted or referred to.

The religious leaders in Jesus day gave the appearance of being very good or righteous and once Jesus said, "unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven". Perhaps from Jesus' viewpoint they were self-righteous. Another time Jesus was talking to some Jewish religious leaders and told them "the kingdom of God will be taken away from you. It will be given to people who do the things God wants in His kingdom". Matthew gospel is frequently viewed as reaching out to Jews and yet he recorded a whole chapter of Jesus' criticism against Jewish religious leaders. This may not seem as strange as it may appear. Today, many very religious Jewish leaders are similar in many ways to Jewish leaders in Jesus day. Because of their conduct, many Jews today resent those who pretend to be super religious. Jesus said, "they do not practice what they preach". Jesus also says, "you are not to be called `Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers". "You hypocrites! You devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers." "You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are." Jesus also calls them, "blind guides!" Jesus tells them, "You have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness". "On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." Jesus is not kind to Jewish religious leaders and does not overlook their faults, which appear to be many2.

Yes, God refers to the children of Israel as His "chosen people" but they also rejected His Son, which, apparently resulted in the second temple being destroyed and the children of Israel exiled from the Promised Land for 1878 years. Some Christians try to copy Jewish religious conduct and even call themselves Rabbi, ignoring Jesus admonition to "not to be called Rabbi". Frequently Jesus confronted religious leaders. One example is when He said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath"3. Today Jewish religious leaders have not only continued similar legalistic attitudes about the Sabbath but have increased the rules, one example being having a Sabbath elevator in large buildings that stop on every floor so people will not have to perform "work" by punching an elevator button. Although the only religious leaders Jesus encountered were Jewish religious leaders, many Christian religious leaders promote rules just as stupid. Be encouraged to follow Jesus and not religious teachings.

1. Mt 15:24; Lk 2:41; 4:16-17 (NAS)

2. Mt 5:20 (NI); Mt 21:43 (IC); Mt 23:1-28 (NI)

3. Is 65:9; Mk 2:27 (NI)

note: click here for bible verse and translation abbreviations

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A Psalm for reflection "God brought His people out with joy. He brought out His chosen ones with singing". Ps 105:43 (IC)

Understanding the Teaching: What I share in the teaching is what I believe God wants me to share. All the direct quotes from God are highlighted in royal purple. Of course the words of Jesus are in red. Rather than follow some made up doctrine, remember that Jesus said that every thing He said (Jn 12:49) and everything He did (Jn 14:31) comes from God. All teachings and all opinions should be supported by what we learn from God or Jesus (see the scripture referred to in the footnote).


To refresh what you have learned in our Workshop or entice you to experience our Workshop

"Remember, all marriages can be better, if you use what you learned."

As you improve communication, you will discover that most problems can be solved by improved communication using the Speaker Listener Technique we teach in our Marriage Workshops. Occasionally there could be a problem that could use formal problem solving. The 4 steps to problem solving are: 1. Agenda Setting - decide and write down the specific concern (like, how do we keep our dishes washed) 2. Brain Storming - write down all the ideas, no evaluating, silly ok (like, hire a maid, only use paper plates, eat out all the time, take turns, etc.) 3. Agreement and compromise - a good time to use the SLT 4. Follow Up - agree to a specific time to follow up and see how the agreement worked and be specific (like if you wrote down we agree to get our son a pet, one of you could be thinking a puppy and one could be thinking a horse) Remember some problems could seem to be unsolvable. That is the time to decide how we can protect what is great about our marriage from this seemingly unsolvable problem.

The Better Half "When your partner won't support your efforts to make your marriage better" Without your spouse's support to improve your marriage, you can still pray daily for God's will to be done in each of your lives and your marriage. Jesus said, "all things are possible with God", Mark 10:27 NI). Obviously, without your spouse's cooperation you would have difficulty in problem solving. No matter how serious the problem appears to be, it is good to consider that your marriage may be more important than most problems and it is good to make an effort to protect your marriage. Remember, God said, "I hate divorce" (Mal 2:16 NI).

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