Good Morning Brothers…
The last couple weeks have shed some light on two characteristics of man that get “under Jesus’ skin”. The first is UN-fruitfulness and the second is misleading children. To link these two together, consider this, apple trees do not feed on apples. Apple trees bear fruit for others to pick and gain life from. Children pick the fruits of the trees around them to gain sustenance and growth. If the fruit they pick from our tree actually leads to death instead of life, then we are misleading God’s children. Bearing bad fruit automatically makes us guilty of misleading because our fruit is continually picked by others. This leads us to the last characteristic that makes Jesus downright angry.
How do we define “who” the self-righteous are? Paul does a great job of this in Romans 10:2-4 when he writes, “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Notice the text does say, “they have a zeal for God“, but still describes them as self-righteous. So…what gives? How can we have “zeal”, which means “enthusiastic devotion to a cause, an ideal or a goal; and tireless diligence in its furtherance”…and still be labeled “self-righteous”? Well, it comes down to, not only “what” our enthusiastic devotion is in, but “how” our zeal is formed. Paul writes that their zeal was in God but not as a result of knowledge. More specifically, their zeal was not in the righteousness of God, which is Christ. Their zeal was in God on their own terms, by their own definition, a perverted view of truth which glorifies self instead of God.
These were the Pharisees and Sadducees. The religious leaders of Christ’s day. Jesus, at different times during His ministry, labeled them; blind guides, hypocrites, fools, white-washed tombs, brood of vipers, and even called them children of the devil. They had access to everything necessary to forge a relationship with God. They had access to everything necessary to recognize the Messiah as the “King who saves”. They had access to everything necessary to share God’s love for humanity and serve the poor an oppressed. Instead, they had no relationship, persecuted the Messiah, an oppressed the poor. Needless to say, this really got under the skin of our Lord and Savior. They were in charge of the house of God, and twisted it to their personal (earthly) gain. The gospels record Jesus’ overt reaction to their desecration in many different places, we will look at one of them from John 2:13-17, “The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.”
Jesus had zeal for His Father’s house. This zeal caused Him to lash out in righteous anger at the warped and twisted practices of a faith that had gone off the rails. The leaders of this faith had provided fruit leading to death and had mislead God’s children into a perversion of truth. What we see here, is the layers of sin personified within the religious. A tree that doesn’t bear good fruit, when LIFE is sustaining the tree, has missed the mark and is considered sinful. When the tree encourages the eating of bad fruit to those reaching out for LIFE, the tree has fallen into transgression against its source of LIFE. When the trees ignore their source of LIFE, and assume they are the source, they have fallen into inequity and work evil. Any declaration of independence from the source of LIFE, is evil, and results in death. Whenever our zeal for God shifts from Jesus Christ to a ministry program, a ceremonial practice, an observance of days, etc. we become self-righteous. Find yourself in this passage from Luke 18:9-14, “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I have found myself, at times, both the Pharisee, and the tax collector. How about you…?
Lets be honest here, what drives Jesus crazy? What type of people really “get under His skin”?
That’s right…us. If you are taking the time to read this, then you (more than likely) fall into that category. We have access to everything necessary to forge a relationship with God. We have access to everything necessary to recognize the Messiah as the “King who saves”. We have access to everything necessary to share God’s love for humanity and serve the poor an oppressed. What are the “big one’s” when it comes to sin…? Having access…and then serving self instead of God.
An old book called Evangelism featured the results of a survey regarding a mainline church’s membership list. They discovered the following about the people on this list:
- 10 percent couldn’t be found
- 20 percent never prayed
- 25 percent never read the Bible
- 30 percent never attended services
- 40 percent never donated to the church
- 50 percent never went to Sunday School
- 80 percent never attended prayer meeting
- 90 percent never had family worship
- 95 percent never won a soul to Christ
… yet somehow, 100 percent planned on going to heaven.
We are the new temple of the Holy One, the keeper of God’s house. Let our “zeal” for the righteousness of God (Jesus Himself) consume us. He has given us access to Himself…lets bear good fruit and share its LIFE with the world.