Mercy for the Pharisees

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. - Luke 6:11


In all the core connections that make human beings flourish, the Pharisees struggled. As you read through this short devotion, pay attention to where you struggle as well.

In their relationship UP with God, they were so perfectionistic that they missed out on the joy and love they could have had (check out Matthew 23:23). In their relationship IN towards the community of faith, they expended so much energy trying to control how others behaved that it must have exhausted them (as in Luke 19:39). In their connection OUT towards the world they were super-judgy, regularly alienating themselves from others (like in Matthew 9:11). And then there’s their connection with their own hearts - just look back over the verse at the beginning and ask yourself how fulfilled do you feel when you are ‘furious’ and plotting to harm others?

And yet Jesus freely blessed Pharisees when they seemed to be catching on to what God was up to (as in Mark 12:28-34). He knew their hearts, and he regularly warned his friends against the kind of darkness and despair that was inside of the Pharisees, not as a critique of the Pharisees but as an invitation to a different kind of life (see Luke 12:1 for example).

So what do you see inside your heart today? Is there a part of your heart and soul that is more Pharisee than disciple? Might Jesus have mercy on that part of you - not hesitating to call it out, but also eager to bring healing and joy back to whatever has rotted or wilted there?