The church has been castigated and the disciples of Jesus accused of not fulfilling their mission for failure to use the power and energy of the kingdom of God in an attempt to correct what someone imagines as a social injustice! The profane proposal was actually made that the church for which Jesus died be prostituted to concern herself over social issues. All attempts to turn the church from her divine mission and involve her in political matters reveals the Sadducean mentality.
We’ve been told that it is a matter of Christian duty, even Sadducees can talk of duty when they are promoting items of social and political concerns, for us to become Christian law-breakers. They have discussed in our hearing those things which will is called “the morality of civil disobedience”, and have undertaken to prove that Jesus and the apostles were nothing more than a social action group mainly concerned with leading demonstrations designed to disrupt the flow of traffic in downtown Jerusalem, this they think would force the attention of the city fathers to the need of programs of things like urban renewal or raise the wages of the date pickers. One would gather the impression from reading the writings of such men that Jesus was crucified for trying to organize a labor union!
We’re all interested, no doubt, in improving society and strengthening our economic order; we are anxious, too, to get a better balance of justice throughout the world; we’re solicitous for the physical welfare of all men and filled with compassion for the hungry of the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ did not die upon the cross of Calvary in order to inaugurate a head start program! The Son of God came “to seek and save the lost,” Luke 19:10, “to give His life a ransom for many,” Matthew 20:28, and He has taught us “to work not for the food which perishes, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you.” John 6:27 If it is a matter of emphasis, then let Jesus be the one who emphasizes. Christ requires us “to go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelievers shall be condemned.” Mark 16:15, 16 Salvation is man’s greatest need, and it is so that Jesus pointed all the energy and power of His church in that direction. We must not permit the sacred body of the Lord to be delivered from this divine mission regardless of how worthy some other project may seem to be. We can not be blinded by the “gods of this world.”
Legalism, as reflected in Paul’s old party, continues to be a problem in the church. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and anise, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” Matthew 23:23 To careless readers, the passage appears to suggest that Jesus thought the Pharisees were wrong because of their concern over details and obedience to the tithing law of the Old Testament. But the Master went on to say, “these you ought to have done, and not have left the others undone.” The Son of God approved the Pharisees when they tithed such seemingly minor things, but admonished them also to be aware of their duty to follow after justice, mercy, and faith.
The Pharisees were no legalist when they demanded that people keep the ordinances, statutes, and commandments of God’s law. Jesus told his disciples to obey the Pharisees; “the scribes sit in the seat of Moses: all things therefore whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not.” Matthew 23:1-4
The Pharisees were legalist, not because they were careful to keep the law of God, even the details of that law, but because they added to the law. Hear Jesus: “Keep My commandments.”