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The Pharisees - Jewish Leaders in the First Century AD.
The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees
It was a tragic denunciation that Jesus had pronounced upon the Pharisees, yet in God’s foreknowledge he planned that His Son would be rejected and die as a common criminal. This death would bring the ultimate plan of God into reality where He would offer the great salvation by offering His own Son as a sacrifice for all sin for all time.
In all of the Pharisaic hypocrisy and greed of the day we must not allow our view to become obscured not only from the good aspects of Pharisaism but also its true character and significance. Pharisaism was admirable in its attempt, however futile, to bring every area of life into subjection to the law.
Perhaps more important than the miserable failure of its legalism was the desire for righteousness that motivated the whole phenomenon known as Pharisaism. It was the longing for a righteous Israel and the hope of the coming Messianic kingdom that motivated these Jewish leaders. The righteous hope and expectant tone of the Pharisaic Psalms of Solomon is virtually indistinguishable from the highly honored poetic songs of Luke 1 and 2.
God was about to do a great work for His people, and in preparation it was necessary for the people to turn to the law with a fervent zeal. The scribes and Pharisees were determined to make the law an influence in the lives of the masses that it had never before been. Although there were many failures, Pharisaism was a movement for righteousness. It was this concern for righteousness that drove the Pharisees to their legalism with such a passion. Convinced they had attained the righteousness they sought, the Pharisees became prey to their own self-satisfaction, and unknowingly they rejected their only hope of righteousness.
Nevertheless this basic desire for righteousness was attractive within Pharisaic and rabbinic Judaism. Later Judaism fell into the same trap as the Pharisees and, as might be expected, is distant and blinded from the teachings of Jesus.
The Paradox of the Pharisees - A Heart Message
Ceramic Dish of the Supper at the House of Simon the Pharisee (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)