How about the modern Christian Pharisees? The Pharisees looked around and said, “There are lots of people in this country who have degenerate moral values. In order for us to put a stop to it, we’ll have nothing to do with such people. We will not eat at table with them. We will not talk to them. We will ostracize them completely. In this way, we will faithfully uphold the highest possible moral values.”
Jesus pushed the boundaries of religion to their limits. He was also a fierce critic of the priestly temple system of His day, decrying its wrongs.
If you examine Jesus’ exchanges with the Pharisees, you’ll discover a common thread. The Pharisees would ask a question on one level, and Jesus would answer it on a completely different level. The contrast was sometimes so stark that it would appear that Jesus was answering a different question.
Why is this? It’s because the Pharisees’ questions were coming from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And Jesus’ response was coming from the tree of life—the life of God. Jesus went to the people who were shunned by the temple priests: the lame, the blind, the infirm, the lepers, the prostitutes, and even the tax collectors—all of whom were notorious outcasts of society. (The common view of that day was that if you were sick, you deserved it.) Jesus quickly became the champion of the poor, the ostracized, the oppressed and dispossessed. He ministered to those who were marginalized by society, those regarded as valueless.
By doing so, the Lord upstaged the temple system, shaking all of its cages. He rattled the Pharisees by overturning their social customs, norms, and structures. He outraged the priests by claiming to speak for God. He broke down many of the barriers that separated people. And in the process, He was put to death by their collapse.
Regrettably, there is a great deal of pharisaism in the Christian family today. That is elitism.