Were Jesus and His Cousin, John, Pharisee-phobic?
Were Jesus and His Cousin, John, Pharisee-phobic?

phobia, [Gr. phobos, fear.] any persistent, irrational, and excessive fear of some particular thing or situation. --- Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary

Just follow them around for a while and listen to their statements when they are in the presence of a certain class of people.

No doubt about it -- Jesus and His cousin, John the Baptist, seem to really have hang ups about some people. Is it the lifestyle of these people -- the relationships they have -- the way they are oriented, or what?

It seems Jesus and John didn't have much of anything good to say about them either publicly or in private.

Let's start with cousin John -- remember when he was baptizing a lot of people who actually were repenting of their sins (that means they wanted to totally quit the stuff they were doing which was wrong) and the Scriptures report that some Pharisees and Sadducees came out to see what was going on. John didn't exactly roll out the red carpet when he said:

Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Matthew 3:5-12 NKJV

Yes, he actually said that -- he did in fact label them a bunch of snakes! Since he obviously didn't give approval to their way of life it must be a phobia -- that's it -- John is Pharisee-phobic! Someone should have gotten him in to therapy or required him to take one of these courses on how the culture is diverse and you simply have to accept all persons regardless of their orientation, even Pharisees. You know -- the way we are having more and more sensitivity training so that all persons are to be accepted regardless of "orientation," sexual or otherwise -- and in the 1st Century for John -- maybe it was a hang up in which he didn't really understand the way Pharisees were "oriented!"

But if you think John is bad -- take a look at his radical cousin Jesus -- a first class case of Pharisee-phobia!

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times."

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?"

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.' Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.' Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' 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 16:1-3; 22:15-18; 23:13-33 NKJV

Oooooh! What a "negative" spirit -- what "unloving" and "judgmental" language -- did you note those terms -- such as "hypocrites," "fools and blind," "blind guides," "...but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness," and "serpents, brood of vipers!"

And to make things worse, Jesus even talks about them behind their backs ---

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But when Jesus perceived it, He said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? "Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? "Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? "How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?; but you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Matthew 5:17-20; 15:12-14; 16:6-12 NKJV

As was said about John so the same could be said about Jesus -- He needs sensitivity training even more than John. He not only would be required to have it with some secular outfit that is more concerned about being "politically correct" than adhering to the standards God has laid down for human behavior and relationships -- and being "politically correct" in USA society is synonymous with being badly out of step with our Creator! But it is also doubtful He would meet all those detailed "requirements" set forth by churches for being in the ministry -- can't have any kind of "prejudices" or say "bad things" about some groups of people, you know!

Remember how it was back then -- just as John and Jesus made claims about being God's people and being sent by God on a mission, so the Pharisees also claimed to be God's representatives and highly qualified to talk "God talk." And if you didn't think they knew much about God, just ask them and then be prepared to sit for a spell as they sounded forth on their "theology!"

Strange, is it not -- there was no common ground of agreement nor ever any effort to "dialog" in order to resolve their differences so they could work together for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

So far as Jesus and cousin John were concerned these person were under condemnation -- guilty of nullifying God's law by substitution of their own "interpretations" (traditions). Obviously there was only one answer to that -- the willingness to confess sin and repent of the same! But for the most part -- in their blind rebellion and still vainly claiming to be God's people, this bunch refused to yield.

But that was in the 1st Century -- here in the beginning of the 21st we see an identical rerun with a new slate of characters and an issue of a different kind.

Here is one of the major battles which a 21st Century Christian has to fight -- there is a group that is every bit as out of step with God as were the characters with whom Jesus and John did battle -- yes, like it or not, it was a battle!

If you resist this 21st Century breed -- if you declare their lifestyles to be an abomination because that is clearly what God has identified them to be -- if you refuse to enter into "dialog" sessions in order to be "civil" and reach some sort of agreement -- if you doggedly insist that the only answer is to repent and by God's mercy and grace be forgiven and transformed (as documented records will show many have already experienced), then you are labeled as one with a phobia problem -- you will be called "homophobic!" You will be accused of being prejudiced, bigoted, and unChristian against a group of people who also talk about God and Jesus -- who are religious and attend church -- some are in the ministry and because of your "phobia" you won't accept them as your "gay Christian brothers" and "lesbian Christian sisters!"

But remember this -- you only have to put up with that label for a few years at most and then Jesus will remove it forever and not one sodomite or lesbian will be in a position to object, much less overrule the judgment of our Lord!

So, welcome to the "phobia" club -- you are in the best of company! By present day standards and "rules" as laid down by the sodomite/lesbian cartel, anyone who adamantly refuses to submit to its agenda is labeled as having a phobia (homophobia). In applying those same standards to the 1st Century, Jesus and His cousin, John, more than qualify to be labeled "Pharisee-phobic!" And you do remember, don't you, that John was accused of having a "demon" and Jesus was accused of being a "winebibber" and "glutton" -- a friend of "publicans and sinners." Those accusations also came from those who talked "God talk" -- yes, the same bunch which caused Jesus and His cousin, John, to have real hang ups with the result that they were Pharisee-phobic according to the advanced standards of the 21st Century!

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves; they are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." These are murmurers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
Jude 1:1-25 NKJV

It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:126-128 NKJV

August 17, 2002
by Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
W. PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy PA

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