So, for years, when reading about "The Pharisees" in the Bible, I conjured up images of angry mobsters, riotous miscreants, seething religious fanatics, first century versions of Mr. Mephistopheles himself. The Pharisees were a "brood of vipers" as John called them. The Pharisees were the bad guys, the ones in black hats, the ones that the ominous music plays behind in "B" grade movies. Of course, by categorizing the Pharisees in such concrete and black and white terms, I was able to discount the Pharisees as "those guys" and definitely "not me".
However, I think I have stumbled upon a simple but important Biblical fact. The Pharisees were simply a group of struggling pastors. Let me say it again, The Pharisees were simple a group of struggling pastors.
The organization of early Jewish religious community life happened around a central place - the synagogue. The synagogue was just another name for a common church (First Baptist, First Methodist, Grace Lutheran, Community Congregational). In those days there was no such thing as "pastor care" or "ministerial counseling agencies." When there was a problem, it was the local rabbi's responsibility to solve it. When a pastor needed time away for refueling, there was no alloted study leave in the contract. Actually, there was no contract! The job of a rabbi, or Pharisee was ongoing and never ending. Unlike today, where churches are usually organized into committees, that share the burden of different functions, each synagogue stood alone, and the rabbi functioned as a solitary figure. So, the Pharisees struggled.
Let me now say that I would at one time have described myself as a struggling pastor - a Pharisee (though I must strongly emphasize that am not one now:-). Here is a short list of characteristics of a struggling pastor;
* Over worked
* Under paid
* Under appreciated
* Isolated and unsupported
* Jack of all church trades, master of none
* Jealous of other pastors who had bigger churches, or made more money
* Ready to quit my calling at the drop of a hat.
In short, the first century clerics (rabbis, Pharisees) simply needed a vacation. They were burned out. The ministry is a tough job, and it can seem unending at times. And so, when it came down to it, the Pharisees were angry, struggling pastors. Mostly, they were angry that another pastor, an unordained, young upstart by the name if YESHUA (Jesus) was taking all of their congregants and the lime light they felt so much that they deserved...
All for Now,