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Relationship Between Jesus and the Pharisees in the Gospel Story

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Throughout the gospel the primary opponents of Jesus have been the Pharisees. They keep challenging Him and He keeps rejecting their authority. The Pharisees were looking for opportunity to catch Jesus in words and deeds. Already when He enters in synagogue, there are people watching to see what He what He does. It's possible that they have been waiting for Him. It seems that they were almost hoping He would do something wrong that they could accuse Him. But they couldn't do this.

What was it about Jesus that was so threatening to them? What was it about them that was so offensive to Jesus? On the surface they had much in common (Old Testament, Jewish).

Then what was wrong? Lets try to understand.

Conflict over Jesus' associates.

Mark 2: 13-15.

The fact that Jesus included Levi as one of His disciples, and that He included many of Levi's friends as His followers was extremely scandalous to the Pharisees.

Tax- collectors were "notorious sinners". They worked for hated Rome. The rabbis called them "robbers" and "wild beasts in human form". They were excommunicated from the synagogues and viewed as unredeemable. Although their rich Jewish countrymen would not associate with them or touch their money because this would make them ceremonially unclean.

But Levi and his friends were not lost for Jesus. For all of his sinfulness, Levi was spiritual seeker. And when he heard Jesus, he recognized all that he had been looking for. And when he entrusted himself to Jesus, Jesus' love changed his life. When Jesus gave him opportunity to join to His disciples, he was happy to quit his job. Maybe in Mark 2:15, Levi celebrated his salvation. Dinner in the house of Levi was great opportunity for Jesus and him to invite his friends to believe.

But did the Pharisees rejoice because of this man changed life? No! They was angry that Jesus even associated with this people. Mark 2:16. Jesus answered: "It is not those who are healthy who needs physician, but those who are sick; I did not call the righteousness, but sinners". Mark 2:17.

The only people who are beyond the rich of Jesus' forgiveness and healing are the self-righteous! Such were the Pharisees. Pharisees thought that they was righteous, that they didn't need forgiveness. They thought that they did everything right. In this was their big mistake.

Conflict over fasting.

Mark 2: 19-20. John the Baptists' disciples were fasting out of mourning, because of John had been arrested Herod and was in danger or execution. The Pharisees fasted for a totally different reason. They fasted twice a week, and this was just one part of a huge focus on ritual observance, which they viewed as central to personal piety. That's why shocked that Jesus wasn't emphasizing this with His disciples.

Jesus answered: Mark 2:19-20.

Jesus answers why His disciples aren't fasting like John's disciples. Fasting is an appropriate expression of mourning- but Jesus' disciples shouldn't be mourning. He is the bridegroom. They will be fast when He is taken away from them, but not now, while He is with them.

Conflict is over two different ways to relate to God: Jesus' focus on relating personally to God against Religion's focus on relating to God impersonally through ritual observance.

Pharisees tried to fulfill the Law through ritual observance. They forgot purpose of fasting. Through fasting God wanted to be closer to His people. He wanted to have personally

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