Jesus had harsh words, the harshest used in His ministry, for the Pharisees. Have you studied why this happened and why Jesus said to them…
“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” Matthew 23:31-33
The word ‘therefore’ is the key to understanding the great sin of the Pharisees. Looking at the passage coming before we see that the sin of the Pharisees is the sin of self-righteousness. The twenty-third chapter of Matthew shows that Jesus condemned the “righteousness” of the Pharisees just before the condemnation in verses 31-33 Christ reminding them of their own words.
“And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.”
Matthew 23:30 KJV
Those who wish to be saved must know about righteousness. We are commanded to be righteous, but not self-righteous.
WHO WERE THE PHARISEES?
A religious sect of Jewish origin, Pharisees were the most pious and religious people among the Jews. They, and the Scribes, knew the Torah and all points of the law better than anyone. At Carm.org we learn much about the Pharisees.
“According to Josephus: Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century who wrote for non-Jews in Greek, calls the Pharisees a ‘choice [of life]’ and a ‘philosophy.’ . . . .According to Josephus, the Pharisees were the group most influential with the people, were noted for their accurate and therefore authoritative interpretations of Jewish law, and had their own traditions and way of life to which they were faithful. They had a simple standard of living and cultivated harmonious relations with others. . . .”
WHAT DID PHARISEES BELIEVE?
According to Carm.org…
“The Pharisees were a Jewish sect from the second century B.C. to the first century A.D. They considered the entire Old Testament to be authoritative–unlike the Sadducees who only accepted the first five books. The Pharisees believed in life after death, the resurrection, the existence of angels and demons, and that the way to God was through keeping the law.”
WHY DID CHRIST CONDEMN THE PHARISEES?
The Pharisees not only trusted in their own righteousness, they failed to recognize or trust the Messiah.
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
John 1:10-12 KJV “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Rom. 10:3-4, 10
Faith in Christ must be preceded by repentance or a turning from our sin and self-righteousness to Christ and His righteousness. To be forgiven a person, even a religious person, must repent and accept that Christ is the righteous and Holy One who paid for the sins of the world on Calvary. The Pharisees refused to bow before Christ or accept God’s only Begotten Son as their Savior.