“Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?'”
The reality of Jesus’ time is that, objectively speaking, the Pharisees weren’t such bad guys. There were devoted to following the Scripture. They were teachers. They were true believers. Funny, isn’t it, how they get the brunt of Jesus’ approbation? Their closeness to the Truth yet inability to accept it was their undoing, and perhaps the very reason the Lord gave them such a hard time.
The Pharisees were religious authorities. They were dedicated. They were a part of the system. They had their ideas and traditions. And when the God they worshiped appeared to them in the flesh? Well, they weren’t too happy about that. Jesus didn’t fit their model.
Picking on Pharisees is the often the Christian equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. I mean, seriously: if Jesus gives them a hard time, surely we should too, right? And they are pretty grumpy and picayune about having things their way. They come off as rigid and stultified compared to the miraculous and life-giving presence of Jesus.
There’s one problem, though. Those same Pharisees that Jesus encounters, so beholden to their traditions and systems? I and those like me (ministers, theologians, long-time Christians, etc.) have the potential to be a lot closer to them than we are to Jesus. We are a part of the system. We know how everything works. Disruptions are not welcome, thank you very much.
I wonder sometimes: if Christ showed up and started messing with my world as he did with those long-lost Pharisees, would I respond the same way as they did?