Jesus versus the Pharisees- Religion or Relationship?
A little over a month ago, I studied the book of Mark in the Holy Bible and I loved it!!! The study allowed me to better understand the personality of Jesus while He was on earth and how unique and selfless He was in His words and actions. A few points stood out for me that I would love to share. First, time after time, the study of the book of Mark revealed that Jesus was not concerned with outward religious performances or with simply ticking the boxes of “righteous” deeds/traditions which the Pharisees were preoccupied with. He repeatedly did the opposite of everything the pharisees and the religious rulers expected Him to do. He was friends with the “sinners”, he healed the sick on the Sabbath day and his disciples even ate with unclean hands!! Nowadays, as Christians, we are so consumed with how we act when people are watching and if people approve of our performance.We know the traditions, rules and doctrines but unfortunately do not have a relationship with God. Having an outward “holy” appearance and conducting one’s self in certain ways contrary to what many have assumed, may not necessarily entail being like Jesus. In fact most times, it might appear that to be like Jesus might mean that we do not fit in to certain man-made specifications but that we have a close relationship with God and we are bold enough to live out God’s instructions on earth even when it makes us look weird and as if we do not fit in.
Sometimes, it’s okay to feel Pain
Something interesting happened in Mark 14: 32-34 when Jesus was at Gethsemane before His crucifixion. In that moment, the verses recorded that Jesus was “deeply distressed to the point of death” thinking of the suffering and pain He was about to encounter. I was shocked!! Jesus, Supernatural Jesus, distressed and depressed? No way! Today, we have been socialised to be anything but weak. To be strong, tough and resilient is the way to live. While this is great, sometimes it is also okay to be human and to feel pain. we do not have to beat ourselves up and wallow in guilt and shame when we have down moments and moments of distress. Jesus experienced that as well. But like Him, what we need in those moments is a genuine vulnerable moment with God in prayer where He exchanges our sadness, depression and pain with strength and peace. The problem may not disappear just like death on a cross still awaited Jesus, but in that moment we receive strength to go through our storms. So, let’s quit being all tough and be human enough to ask God for help when we need it.
Bring Back Sacrificial Service
The next lesson closely follows the point above. Jesus lived a sacrificial life. Nothing was about Him but everything was about God who sent Him. Nowadays, we are so quick to runaway from anything that will inconvenience us for God’s sake. Jesus did the opposite. He didn’t feel like dying on a cross for a people who didn’t even know or acknowledge that He was Christ the saviour let alone understand the sacrifice He was making for them(us) but He did it anyway. In fact, at a point, He even prayed that “the cup of suffering” (referring to dying on the cross) be taken away but He concluded by saying, “not my will but Your will”. God is looking for a generation of Christians who will say “not my will but Your will” and will be willing to pay the price no matter the cost.