As the Savior worked to teach the people about His true nature, He was met with varying responses. One of the strongest oppositions He faced in mortality was from the Pharisees. This group, far from being ignorant to teachings about the Savior, was so well-read that they could readily rattle off scripture about the Son of God. However, they struggled to see the in-the-flesh version when He repeatedly stood in front of them. Once I stopped writing the Pharisees off, I realized that I may have more in common with them than I thought. This week I want to peek into their relationship with Christ and try to glean any gems there are to be found. Please know that I am uncomfortable grouping them all under one title but since so many of the scriptures mention “Pharisees” and “scribes” I am looking at the relationship from that angle. I think there was a fairly long continuum when it came to these folks. I imagine some of them were uncomfortable with the actions of the group, some were curious about the Savior, and some were even hesitant believers. What I am repeatedly amazed about is their struggle to recognize Jesus Christ when He was with them. He offered parable after parable to try to help them see their oversight. He offered direct counsel. But none of it seemed to penetrate their staunchly held beliefs. Anytime He validated someone for their efforts or offered compassion, the Pharisees were quick to pounce, questioning the Savior’s motives and power. Why? Can you imagine being in the presence of the Son of God and not seeing Him for who He is? I want to understand how that happened.
The Law of Moses had prepared them for a number of things but His compassion was not one of them. Now, have you read about the Law of Moses? It’s pretty weighty and I could see how it would be hard to see the Savior if you thought it just entailed a myriad of rules. And it would also be hard to imagine Him as loving and merciful if you were stressed out about counting your steps and striving to make sure the sacrificial blood hit it’s mark every time. And I think that’s part of the crux of the whole thing. Could anyone have been 100% obedient to that law relying solely on their own efforts? I doubt it. And yet these folks, the scribes and Pharisees, staked their future on their stated, self-reliant obedience. I imagine many in the house of Israel were all too happy to jettison that way of life for something a bit more forgiving. But the Pharisees weren’t. Why on earth wouldn’t you let go of an exacting way of life and trade it in for a more comfortable model?