Mandeville, LA – From the Gospels it appears that there were a lot of bigwigs Jesus didn’t like. He spoke harshly about scribes and Pharisees. And he had problems with the religious authorities, who condemned him to death, and rich people, whom he advised to divest themselves of their wealth. (On one memorable occasion, he drove some of them out of the Temple with a whip.)
Their basic problem, he thought, was a temptation to turn the pursuit of religion into pursuit of position and reputation—greetings in the street, the highest place at banquets, their own sense that they knew all about God and practically owned him.
He distinguished cases. He loved the rich young man who inquired about perfection, and had nothing against Zacchaeus, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, or Saul of Tarsus, even though Saul persecuted his followers, Nicodemus hid his beliefs, Zacchaeus had led a checkered life, and the rich young man wasn’t ready to go the distance. He was always ready to have dinner with prominent people, and not just for the food. He was concerned about their well-being, happy to teach anyone willing to listen, and had no doubt noticed that prominent people lead, so it’s worthwhile trying to influence them.
But what did he have against bible scholars and people who were scrupulous about religious law that made him generally so critical of them? Didn’t he want people to know the scriptures and take religious obligations seriously?
Their basic problem, he thought, was a temptation to turn the pursuit of religion into pursuit of position and reputation—greetings in the street, the highest place at banquets, their own sense that they knew all about God and practically owned him. As a class, they were more interested in having religion advance their careers than having it take effect among the people and help them live better lives that bring them closer to God. – James Kalb, Honoring Rulers, Honoring Truth