I was probably in my late teens when I started understanding who “the Pharisees” were. I had seen the word in the gospels, and heard about them in Sunday School, but it took me some time to be able to separate them from other people Jesus met.
The editors of the Spark Story Bible for children try to help young readers begin developing their own definition of Pharisees by including one of the Pharisees’ many encounters with Jesus in their work:
The Pharisees were a group of people who didn’t like what Jesus said and treated Jesus badly. Jesus told the Pharisees a story to help them understand that what they were doing was wrong.
Jesus said, “A man built a vineyard and planted grapes. He hired workers to care for the grapes. When the grapes were ripe, the man sent his servants one by one to get the grapes. But each time, the workers watching the vineyard hurt the servant! The man tried sending his own son, but they hurt him too!
The Pharisees realized that Jesus was talking about them. Every time God sent someone to help them learn more about God, they were mean to that person instead of listening to what that person had to say. Jesus was there to save them, but they weren’t even listening!
Over the years, I have focused on each of the times in the gospels where the Pharisees are mentioned, and then tried very hard in my own life NOT to follow their lead. The process has involved reading, deciding, and doing.
God, help me to take the time today to read Your word to me in the scriptures. Help me to decide how You are speaking to me right there. And help me to do something today as a follower of my Lord and Savior Jesus, that gives You the glory and praise. Amen.