“He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted..” – Matthew 23:11-12
Today we continue to see Jesus at odds with the Pharisees and Scribes, so it might help us to better understand them from their own Talmud, which describes seven kinds of Pharisees*:
- The Shoulder Pharisee wore his good deeds on his shoulder, to build up his reputation for purity and goodness (did good to be seen).
- Wait-a-little Pharisee found reasons to delay his good deeds (he spoke well on serving, but did not do).
- Bruising or Bleeding Pharisee would bump into walls due to covering their eyes lest they see a woman in public as a way of raising their esteem for piety.
- Pestle and Mortar Pharisee had the appearance of one bent over in humility. It was self-advertising ostentation.
- Ever-reckoning Pharisee will keep score on his good deeds so to put God in debt (sort of like in the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector in the temple to pray).
- Timid or Fearing Pharisee is in dread of divine punishment, worried about the outside of his cup and plate, so he will seem good. He views religion in terms of judgment.
- God-fearing Pharisee is one who really and truly loves God and is loyal to His commands.
Six bad kinds to one good kind. The Pharisees listening to Jesus’ scathing observation about themselves couldn’t help themselves from agreeing with his denunciation.
And you? Where do you fall in this list? Would Jesus denounce you? How would you respond?
Let us pray, that we may be genuine in seeking the will of God, with awe and reverence, and like the God-fearing Pharisee do all things out of love.
May God bless you!