then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “the scribes and the pharisees sit on moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. for they preach, but do not practice. 4 they tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 they do all their deeds to be seen by others. for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 but you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. [matthew 23:1-8]


the hollow faith of the pharisees


how do we handle leaders who speak the truth, but fail to live up to it themselves? if you are a fan of 90’s dc talk, you may be familiar with this quote from brendan manning, that “the greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. that is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”


these pharisees said the right things, but they were living out futility. they preached an empty religion, a set of rules that brought ‘heavy burdens’ to those who sought to follow the Lord.


many of us have come across these leaders – churchy people who demanded something unbiblical, who called others out for their sin while openly justifying their own. if this is what we look to as an example of Christ, it is no wonder that so many are distrustful of the church, so reluctant to trust in Jesus.


yet these false teachers, promoting legalism, do not represent who Jesus is!


the pharisees created heavy burdens, but Jesus says his burden is light (matthew 11:30).


the pharisees demanded work, but Jesus offers rest (matthew 11:29).


the pharisees love the set of honor, but Jesus is humble (matthew 11:29).


when we seek Jesus himself, chasing after the one who makes us holy, and not follow rules and regulations that make us look holy, we find rest for our souls, peace for our minds, and create a living testimony for the world to see and know that God is truly good.


~ jason soroski