7th August 2013

The Wrongs of Being Right 

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 5:31-32 (NIV 2011) 

Here is the problem about being right. Sometimes it warps our view of the world. 

I do wonder if this is part of the problem with the Pharisees around the time of Jesus. They wanted to be people of good moral standing. They wanted to be lights to their nation and the world, of how right behaviour can change the world for the better. 

But if you are right, how do you then treat those who get it wrong? Well, the Pharisees did not approve of bad behaviour. Moral lapses couldn’t be tolerated, as it would harm their cause. So they took the route of punishment, exclusion and condemnation. From a human point of view it makes logical sense, for the fear of punishment can stop people stepping out of line. However, in all this, grace gets excluded. 

Jesus was a problem to the Pharisees. He challenged their whole worldview. They asked Jesus, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” (Luke 5:30). The Pharisees were completely baffled by his behaviour. As Jesus began to challenge their teaching, they grew weary of this upstart from Galilee and decided to be rid of him. These pillars of society began to engineer situations in which to accuse Jesus of being a law breaker (for example Luke 6:6-8). 

Right there, at that moment of decision, something terrible happened to the Pharisees. They began to plan evil, whilst hiding it under a cloak of “righteousness”. They had hit a blind spot, unaware of the corruption within. They were completely unaware that they too were sinners, just like the tax collectors they did not like mixing with. 

But there is good news for Pharisees. Jesus loves them too. As the most famous Pharisee of them all, Saul, discovered in Acts chapter 9, their duplicitous behaviour has not pushed them beyond the reach of grace. 

You may be outwardly corrupt, like the tax collectors of Jesus’ time, or you may seek to live in a disciplined and religious way, like the Pharisees. But, like it or not, we are all sinners. That’s the bad news. The truly great news is that we are all invited to share a meal—tax collectors and Pharisees—with Jesus. God’s grace is available to us all. There is no better news than that. 

Father, we recognise that all of us, in own way, have fallen short of the way of life that you intended for us. But we give you praise that you call us back to yourself through the life, death and resurrection of your son Jesus. In his name we give you praise.

Study by Ian Woodley


ianwoodleyAbout the Author:
Ian Woodley pastors the Nottingham Grace Communion, a congregation of the Worldwide Church of God, UK, that meets at 2pm Saturday, as below.  Ian also facilitates a monthly Bible Study in Lincoln, which generally meets on a Saturday at 1:30pm.  They welcome visitors to join them—for more details contact Ian Woodley as below.

Local Congregation: 
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy Brown Hall
Attenborough Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Ian Woodley
Email:  icgwoodley@gmail.com

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One Response to “7th August 2013”

  1. PHIL Lewis on August 8th, 2013 10:50 pm

    This is a great study, a real eye opener!
    “All our righteousness is as filthy rags” – the only true Righteousness is in Jesus Christ and through His Grace we can put on that Righteousness !

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