Imagine a time when religious leaders were divided. One group believed that there is nothing beyond this life, what we get here is our reward from a distant unknowable god. Yet another group believed that the current political situation is the issue that has distanced God from His people. They sought violence, and wanted God to send a savior in the form of a warrior so to take care of the political situation. Yet another group, the most powerful, believed in an afterlife, and believed that God would send a savior that would show us the way to heaven. Knowing what we know, we might tend to follow the last group…we all know that Jesus came to reconcile us to God.
These three groups were the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Pharisees. On the first Christmas morning, this was the political and religious situation in Jerusalem. We know the story from here. The corrupt and evil government at the time would attempt to kill our Lord and Savior by simply killing all Hebrew sons born in that year. Nobody did anything. It is really amazing how complacent a society will become. If we are comfortable and have our jobs and a few perks, we are willing to watch all sorts of atrocities happen all around us; just as long as that pain does not come to my house.
As we, here in 2020 understand, this set of facts lead us to the cross.
Today we have a large group of people who do not believe in an afterlife. We have entire political systems built on enforcing that view. The state is all we should be concerned with, it is the state we should sacrifice for. We also, today, have a large group of people who believe that force is the only way forward. This last has illustrated that force as we have seen our cities explode in violence. And finally, we also have a large group of people that believe that God has a place prepared for us in Heaven; we believe that our savior has died for our sins and we wait for our reunion with God.
I don’t know about you, but the similarities between year 0 and year 2020 are striking.
You may ask “are you comparing believing Christians to Pharisees”? In a way, yes I am.
The Pharisees were religious, they read scriptures, they knew God would send a savior. Those of us that are religious, no matter what denomination, are religious, we go to church, we read the Bible, and we accept Jesus as our savior. Where the Pharisees get their bad name is the group’s rejection of the specific savor Jesus, because He had no interest in their earthly power nor possessions. Jesus asked them to take a stand and to sacrifice, they chose instead to sacrifice Jesus. I know I sound like a broken record, but we have legal abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, oppression, our political system is wrought with criminals, we are censored and managed as citizens, we are inundated with sexual themed commercials, TV shows, movies, our children are taught to mistrust their parents and pastors, and anyone who steps out of line is simply canceled from society. How many are willing to make a stand? How many will stand for Christ, and how many “religious” will sacrifice all that they have to follow Christ? I see more denominations changing Biblical teaching to accommodate secularism rather than churches who are making a stand.
If we do not stand with Christ, then we will certainly stand and watch Him crucified. I do not want to be a Pharisee. I am going to spend this season through Lent looking at what I am called to sacrifice to follow Christ. What is taking me from the love of God? What is causing me to lose sight of the miracle we witnessed at that manger in Bethlehem? What identifies me more with the Pharisees and less with Christ and His saints? Can I support all the companies and institutions that are guiding society towards perdition?
Our savior has come, do you really accept Him? With your worship, with your income, with your very life? Stand with Him! Or stand with society as they crucify Him.