The Pharisees get a roasting in the New Testament. They first pop up in Matthew 3 and John the Baptist lays into them immediately.
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath?” (Matt 3:7, NLT)
He doesn’t see their fine robes or their importance – he just sees a brood of snakes. Â From there on it doesn’t get any better for them. They just don’t seem to be able to see what is happening in front of them. Many people see the miracles of Christ; they only see the works of Satan. Many see a Saviour; they see a threat to peace.
They were highly honoured in their day; now the term Pharisee is derogatory. I’m sure we all have a picture of men who were more interested in the rules and regulations of the temple than they were in the relief which could have been offered to the poor who came to it. They were more interested in the words of the scriptures than they were in the Words of God.
We might even be able to see people today with similar problems, and blame them for the bad reputation which the church has with so many people.
But how far can we see? Look ahead to Luke’s account of the same incident (amazingly also chapter 3, verse 7!) and John shouts the same words, but not to the Pharisees. Instead, he calls the crowds who are coming for baptism the “broodÂ of snakes.” The crowds, that’s everyone, isn’t it? I’m not a Pharisee, but I have been in a crowd.
Then comes a word from John that opens my eyes –
Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. (Luke 3:8, NLT)
I am a Christian. By the grace of God, I have been saved. However, I am now very aware of the fact that I cannot say, “I’m safe.” I have repented and turned to God, but I have to prove that by the way I live.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? (James 2:14, NLT)
Can you see what I am getting at?