What can happen
I readily admit I know little of the show “The Walking Dead” except for the general idea. It is about the “dead” who are not ALL THE WAY dead yet. They are, in reality, more dead than alive. Their general course of direction is not in question…… this being what comes to my mind as I read about the Pharisees and experts of the law in Jesus’ day.
They are not the picture of life- spiritually, relationally, or emotionally.
From the inner condition of their heart and mind to the outward projection of how they relate to Jesus and others, their impact is undeniable. As “religious “, it is hard to understand how blind they can be to the truth explained by John the Baptist and Jesus.
Considering who they were, all I can think is ……..why?
Why would those, who should have known more than anyone how to thrive in the Jewish religious culture, become examples of the walking dead?
Jesus Himself identified their nature of death in Matthew 23:27.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”
What did this cost them?
Reading through Luke 7:24-28 , Jesus identifies how the Pharisees and experts in the law failed to respond appropriately to John the Baptist and his teaching about the baptism of repentance.
29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)
I find it interesting that those who acknowledged God’s way as being right were the very ones who could admit THEY were the ones in the wrong. No one is going to submit to John’s baptism of repentance if they can’t, first of all, admit that about themselves.
So due to the fact that the Pharisees and experts couldn’t humble themselves and admit they were wrong in their error, the Scripture says they “rejected God’s purpose for themselves”.
Wow! That is heavy!
What was God’s purpose for them?
I think the purpose they rejected was two-fold.
- God’s purpose for them individually.
- God’s purpose for them corporately.
God always has intentions first as it relates to our own life but then that can affect the purpose He plans for us in His kingdom.
If the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) identified by Jesus was to love God and others, our rejection of that will undoubtedly impact our role in ministry.
When we cannot acknowledge God’s way as right, our spiritual fruit for His kingdom will become drastically compromised. Even though the Pharisees were alive humanly speaking, they were dead spiritually.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8
As they rejected both John the Baptist AND Christ, they, in turn, forfeited God’s purpose for them.
This even put their eternal salvation in question as stated by Jesus in Matthew 5:20.
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
How are we in jeopardy?
If this travesty is so costly, are we in jeopardy of this happening to us in our day? What does it look like for us to “reject God’s purpose”? How can we be “religious” yet miss the fundamental truths of our faith?
Well, I go back to what is our purpose first and foremost, no matter who we are or what time period we live in?
- love God
- love others
So in essence, if we are identifying ourselves as part of God’s kingdom yet we are not fulfilling the greatest commandment, we are indeed REJECTING God’s purpose!
Let’s be honest with ourselves about this. God knows the truth even if we are in denial like the Pharisees.
The Pharisees and experts in the law THOUGHT THEY WERE IN THE RIGHT when all along, they were “whitewashed tombs”.
The “walking dead” don’t know they are the ones with the problem!!
When there are more people on our “bad” side than our “good” side, the problem is most likely US!
What does this look like in our lives?
If we are bent toward legalism, with a vehement judgment readily cast at others, then we are in danger of ending up like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. When we are living like the “issues” belong to everyone else but ourselves, WE are the whitewashed tombs of our day, the walking dead.
Recently, two articles have shed light on the damage left in the wake of people who are unwilling to take responsibility and repent. The choice to refuse accountability impacts our relationships on many levels.
These articles beg the questions- Am I toxic? Am I the problem? The religious leaders didn’t think they were failing to fulfill their purpose by God but they were! When we do not love others, we are no better than them.
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 1 John 3:14
We MUST live up to what our mouths profess, otherwise, our faith isn’t legitimate. When we reject being wrong and repenting, we ultimately are rejecting God’s purpose for us just as the Pharisees did.
James 2:26 reminds us that faith without deeds is dead.
Acknowledging that God’s ways are right begins when we are able to admit we are in the wrong. Otherwise, our relationship with God and others will suffer.Acknowledging that God's ways are right happens when we are able to admit we are in the wrong. Click To Tweet
If we can’t face that, then we ARE the whitewashed tombs of our day, the walking dead bearing no fruit in life for God our Father.