Jacob was the new employee in the block fresh from college who had just graduated with a Degree in Tele-Communication electronics. He had an amazing talent in the Information and Communication Technology and was much willing to share the knowledge in his new work place. The company intercom had not been upgraded to be at par with the modern systems and Jacob being an expert in Electronics proposed an upgrade for the whole system and to have it managed centrally via software installed in a computer where you can be able to monitor the signals and overlook if everything is running smoothly. With that knowledge he went with his proposal to the company’s IT manager. But the IT manager turned down the proposal citing that the system has been running smoothly all along and does not see the need for the upgrade. But the truth was the IT Manager did not want the young man to outshine him after being in the company for more than 10 years. He went ahead and threatened the young man that should he hear him proposing anything else for the IT Dept, he will make sure that he gets fired since he did not want any proposal that if implemented would “damage” the entire organizations image. Moreover, he told Jacob that managing the IT dept is not a bed of roses and so he should stop thinking in that direction and only concentrate with his work as per the company policies. Why am I giving the imaginary scenario above? Read on….
In our modern society we have our own Sadducees and Pharisees. Let us explore something about these people and see how the historical religious titles come in.
According to the Gospel, Sadducees were aristocrats. They tended to be wealthy and held powerful positions, including that of chief priests and high priest, and they held the majority of the 70 seats of the ruling council called the Sanhedrin. Pharisees were mostly middle-class businessmen, and therefore were in contact with the common man. The Pharisees were held in much higher esteem by the common man than the Sadducees. Though they were a minority in the Sanhedrin and held a minority number of positions as priests, they seemed to control the decision making of the Sanhedrin far more than the Sadducees did, again because they had the support of the people. Sanhedrin composed of the supreme Jewish council, ecclesiastical, and administrative council in ancient Jerusalem before AD 70, having 71 members from the nobility and presided over by the high priest.
Jesus Christ was at a constant disagreement with these noble people for some reasons we are going to explore while comparing them with the modern society. Who are the modern Sadducees and Pharisees? How can we know them? What are some of their negative influences in the society e.g. in churches, mosques, schools, work places, in social circles etc?
Based on Mathew Chapter 23
ONE: HYPOCRITES THOUGH VERY DISGUISED
At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus point so well that we are to do what these people tell us but NOT do what they do for they impose upon the society some codes of ethics which they do not observe. He also cites that whatever they do it is only to be seen, praised by men and be recognized. They are also people who seek recognition in the society and desire to be referenced with huge titles. They will pretend to be so worthy of the big titles they accord themselves, pretend to do according to the rules that govern them and impose the rules upon the people but they indeed are lying to the masses as they are opposite of what we know superficially of them.
TWO: THEY ARE A STUMBLING BLOCK IN THE SOCIETY
Consider this verse, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Matthew 23:13 (King James Version)” Due to their influential positions in the society, going past them is nearly impossible. They sit in their positions pretending to guide the society to a greater light e.g. political positions, Religious positions, Work place positions etc, They make sure that no any development oriented idea goes past them as they happen to be the final decision maker for those under them while offering blind guidance. So with them in high places, our society is stagnant. Only God can enable us to go past them.
THREE: EXPLOITATIVE AND USERS OF PEOPLE
Consider this verse, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Matthew 23:14 (King James Version)” While they are pretending to have the best interest for the society and people with them, they take advantage of the situation to further their own selfish cause. They will take advantage of your basic needs in order to enrich themselves by e.g. asking favors and bribes in order to serve you. They will make you appear desperate when you need them and while pretending to help the society, they indeed make it poorer.
FOUR: A NEGATIVE INFLUENCE IN THE SOCIETY
Jesus Said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Matthew 23:15 (King James Version)”. They really seek to have as many people as possible in their social circles, but their insidious influence upon their characters is as lethal as a cobra bite. You will join them hoping that you will gain from them and they will be of much help to you, but sooner or later, you will start behaving like them. They seek to have people imitate them since they feel they are superior and thus worthy of imitation. The end result is, they only make their friends as bad as themselves or even worse. Also consider this verse, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Matthew 23:23 (King James Version)” In their characters, they only concentrate doing the most visible and obvious actions to the people but will not do anything that does not bring them self-glory.
FIVE: MASTERS OF DISGUISE
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Matthew 23:27-28 (King James Version)”. Often they are so good to the people in the society. They will do all deeds of righteousness, dress to kill and talk seasoned words in order to be “good”. To the outside world they are living a perfect life which is desirable to all. But looking closer to them, they are none of their superficial characters. They are evil, just as a snake on grass. You cannot know them through a casual encounter, you just need to stay with them for a while, understand them in order to know their true nature.
Why do these types of people have such a strong hold in the society?
- They are influential to the people around them through their well timed words and actions, powerful positions in the society and wealth.
- They are masters of disguise and are able to do something very evil and manage to cover it up. They are rarely or never caught.
- They seem to really care for the common people and will do anything in order to appear caring and loving but all along they have a target which upon being achieved, you will no longer see them in your life or they only want to spoil your good character.
- They are very good at memorizing the written code of ethics either in the religion they follow, in the society e.g. state law, company policies etc. They will perfectly quote for you what you are supposed to do and make you understand the importance of abiding to the code of ethics but this is just a cover up of their unwillingness to follow the code of ethics.
- They accord themselves powerful titles in the society e.g. Doctor X, Councilor Y, etc in order to have the power to influence the masses through their staggering titles which in reality they do not deserve. They use the titles to further their own cause.
- These are people who have perfected the art of blowing their own horn. They will expertly brag of an achievement and their abilities in front of people and convince the general public or the people in their company that indeed they have achieved much while in reality they haven’t. Pharisees and Sadducees were able to convince the public that they are experts in observing the law but in reality, they were law breakers.
- They are so good at pointing a mistake that is openly visible in order to appear righteous in their deeds. “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Matthew 23:24 (King James Version)”. They will easily point at your mistake in order to e.g. appear better than you, embarrass you, etc while in reality they are worse than they appear.
- They are experts in the theoretical knowledge of whatever they deserve to do and adhere to while in practical sense they are just failures. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. Matthew 23:3 (King James Version (1769). They will show you the way, but they have never travelled that way and have no experience in the said way.
- They will make it appear like whatever is supposed to be done and whatever they do is so difficult that they are the only ones who are able and deserve to do it. Just like the Pharisees and Sadducees made it seem like obeying God was such a difficult affair and that they were the only ones who would interpret the law correctly, and without them, knowing the ways of God was Impossible.