v 5 Everything they do is for show.
We all love it when people think well of us! And we get pretty despondent when we are out of favour and our efforts and opinions go unrecognised. A good reputation is a fine thing – provided it is genuinely deserved. These Pharisees were held in high regard, but Jesus’ gaze penetrated beyond the superficial and down into the realities of motivation, desire and private life-style. What Jesus saw were the inner qualities and character – and the Pharisees were mighty ugly inside. All the outward appearances were mere showing off. What a dangerous place to be in!
One aspect of our current social climate is that we live in the age of ‘The Celebrity’. Television programmes and glossy magazines visit this celebrity culture incessantly. From ‘Celebrity MasterChef’ to ‘The Weakest Link’ we are inundated with so-called ‘Celebrities’ – largely unknown to many of us – who love to be seen and celebrated.
There is something pretty deep in our human nature that revels in this kind of recognition. We suggest to ourselves that we are worthy of recognition and are better, or more important, than people around us. This insidious habit of comparing ourselves with other people – and inflating our self-image – is the very same characteristic that plagued the Pharisees. In plain language, it is PRIDE, and unless we are careful we play along with it. It may be pride of position (I’M A LEADER – don’t you know!), or pride of achievement (I’VE GOT THREE DEGREES – don’t you know!) or pride of possessions (MY SECOND CAR IS A …. don’t you know!)
One characteristic rooted in our fallen humanity urges us to be seen and known as significant people. Do you ever crave that kind of recognition?
That was the Pharisees’ problem, and it is one of the baser qualities of the human condition.