The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. (Luke 16:14 NRSV)
Jesus spent a great deal of time trying to reach and teach the Pharisees. Jesus agreed on many points with the Pharisees. We must understand that. It was not that Jesus felt the Pharisees were bad. It is simply that he set a much higher standard for them than he did for others.
Some of the Pharisees were so concerned about the external keeping of the law that they sometimes ignored the internal motivation that produced that obedience. There are good reasons to have clean hands--but a clean heart is far more valuable.
A movie a couple of years ago tells the unforgettable story of Ruby Bridges, a seven-year-old African-American girl who was scheduled to attend a school in New Orleans. It was in the days of legal segregation, and she was escorted by Federal marshals to school. She had to walk past lines of screaming adults whose eyes were filled with hate and ugliness of character. Before going into the building Ruby turned and prayed for those who were harassing and taunting her.
When she later told her story to a reporter, he shook his head and said, "You were praying for the people who were screaming at you?"
She said, "Yes, my mama taught me that when people speak mean of you, you pray for them just like Jesus prayed for the people who spoke mean of Him." Friends, that is purity of heart.
Loving God, enlarge my vision that I may walk in faith and with a pure heart. Amen.
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