God knew at the beginning of human history that the life of Jesus and the lives of the Pharisees were on a deadly, head-on collision course.
The cross of Christ is not only for the clearly positive aspects of repentance, cleansing, regeneration, and salvation, but also to prepare a person for a personal journey of faith with God, made possible through the discipleship cost of the death of our stubborn self-in-control natures. The cross demonstrates the deadly serious nature of this conflict at its core.
The Pharisees, scribes, lawyers, and Jewish leaders hated Jesus because He exposed the fact that they had the false outward appearance of being godly, without having paid the true inner discipleship costs to back it up. They had a scholarly head-knowledge of the Old Testament, but no personal first-hand experiential knowledge of the God of the Old Testament. The surrender of the self-will to God to make room for individual life plans tailored by God was entirely missed or rejected by them as they studied the Old Testament.
The Pharisees and scribes did not “enter in” (Lk. 11:52) to a personal life with God according to the model as set forth in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and others, because they never gave up control of their lives. They created their own self-willed religion based upon scholarly study and religious observances, leaving out the part about faith or trust in God that would lead to the imaginative and purposeful lives that God could and would craft for them.
The gulf between what the Pharisees and scribes said, and what they actually did, could not be much wider. They said they were the children of Abraham and the followers of Moses, yet they rejected and killed the Son of God.
In Matthew 23:13, Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither permit them that are entering to go in.”
We may ask the obvious question: “go in where?”
Certainly the Pharisees and scribes had all of the outward appearances of following the Jewish religious practices, and played and dressed the part of being holy men of God. They cannot be faulted on that score. They had everyone and themselves so fooled that Jesus said of them that they were as white-washed sepulchers full of dead men’s bones, or graves that men walked over without realizing it. Jesus said they were like the blind leading the blind.
The powerful lesson for us here is that discovering and following God’s life-script for us completely like Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, or not following God at all like the outwardly religious but self-powered Pharisees and scribes…can actually separate in the extreme into totaling different outcomes.
Abraham, Joseph, and Moses accurately hear the voice of God, and follow the leading of God for their lives, serving as the correct models of God-composed life-scripts of faith for millions of believers to our present day.
The Pharisees and scribes are exposed as usurpers of their undeserved high religious positions in Israel, and end up on the wrong side of the trial and crucifixion of the very Messiah…that was prophesied in the Old Testament scriptures they mistakenly claimed to be the careful students, interpreters, and teachers of…to the nation of Israel.
It is the second half of the cross of Christ which divides and separates the two conflicting approaches to life.
The plans of God for Abraham, Joseph, and Moses…dislodge them from all previous self-made plans and goals. The designs of God propel them onward to achieve their unique positions in history.
By contrast, the rejection of God’s will and participation in their lives, propels the Pharisees and scribes to commit the largest blunder in all of eternity, exposing themselves as imposters and pretenders as the supposed religious leaders of Israel during the time of the public ministry, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus.