The Pharisees Were Right

The Pharisees were right may sound like heresy or at least a little ignorant. Most of the time we don’t give the Pharisees much credit, mainly because they saw Jesus as a problem and not the answer. If we were to create a list of the most admired people in the New Testament, these guys would not make the shortlist. After all one of their primary functions was to be Israel’s Religious Police. But to their credit, they stumbled on a profound truth. John chapter 12 verse 19 tells us,

So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!’

During the time of Jesus the estimated population of the world was 200 million people and even though the Pharisees didn’t literally mean that the entire population of the earth was going after Jesus, his entry into Jerusalem had created quite a stir. The whole city was buzzing with hope and expectation; something big was about to take place.

In the first century, Israel was overrun by Rome and the Jewish people were longing for the day when the Davidic Kingdom would be re-established. Israel hadn’t seen a king since Zedekiah reigned in Judah (597-586 BC) and his reign had not ended well; Jerusalem was destroyed and the Babylonian Captivity began. So when Jesus rode into Jerusalem the crowds were hopeful and began to shout,

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!

Two thousand years later the whole world is still being revolutionized by the events that transpired as a result of Jesus riding into Jerusalem. Today there are over two billion people — that’s 32% of the global population — who in effect affirm that what the Pharisees said was right; “the whole world has gone after Him.”  People turn to Jesus because he is the personification of all that is true. I love the way Dr. S.M. Lockridge, the Baptist preacher, described Jesus in one of his sermons:

He’s enduringly strong, He’s entirely sincere, He’s eternally steadfast, He’s immortally graceful, He’s imperially powerful, He’s impartially merciful…He’s the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world…He’s the centerpiece of civilization…He’s the loftiest idea in literature, He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology. He’s the only one who qualifies to be an all sufficient Savior.

People go after Jesus because He is life and today 82,000 people a day are turning to the life Jesus offers. This means that today more people are being transformed by the message of Jesus than at any other time in Christian history. The whole world has gone – and is going – after Him!

When the Pharisees said, “This is getting us nowhere” God was saying, “I’m just getting started.” God’s plan from the very beginning was for the whole world to hear the good news of His Son. It’s actually remarkable how the message has traveled all the way from “Jerusalem…[to] Judea, [to] Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  The Gospel has traveled by land, sea, and air. The Romans built the roads and God used them to take the Apostles all over the Empire. Then the European explorers took the Gospel by sea to distant lands. When air travel became possible, missionaries started collecting frequent flyer miles. What’s really amazing, is that these days the Gospel moves with lightning speed over wireless networks and the world wide web!

Think about the way the message of Jesus reached you. It traveled over two thousand years, over all kinds of terrain, countless miles, through plagues, famines, revolutions, and wars. And one day — maybe today — it reached your heart. Having heard it you couldn’t get it out of your mind because Jesus

…is God’s Son, the sinners Savior, the centerpiece of civilization, the greatest phenomenon that has walked the horizon of this world.

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