“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” — Luke 14:11
The villains of the New Testament are definitely the Pharisees. They are always the guys causing problems, opposing Christ, and becoming the targets of many of Jesus’ warnings.
But their life and message must have been quite popular for Jesus to spend so much time warning people about it. No doubt, this is why Jesus referred to their teaching as “leaven” in Luke 12:1 – it was prone to spreading and had likely infected many people.
So the Pharisaic movement was not an isolated incident; it was a pervasive ideology running rampant through society. That’s why Jesus focused so much attention on it.
The most dangerous aspect of Pharisaism was pride. They thought they were too good for the humility Jesus required. In Luke 14, we find Jesus challenging their pride in the following ways:
- He illustrated that it would be better to take the lower seat and be moved up than to be demoted (v.7-10)
- He declared that anyone who exalts himself will be abased and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted (v.11).
- He challenged them to care for “the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind” rather than those who can repay their kindness (v.12-14).
- He told the story of a man who made a great supper. The original invitees made excuses and so the poor, maimed, halt, and blind (outcasts of their society) were invited (v.15-24).
- Finally, He let them know that those who desired to follow Him, the King, must choose Him above every other human relationship, be willing to die, count the cost, and forsake all they have (v.25-35).
Before we dismiss the Pharisees, let us consider whether their “leaven” (teaching) has permeated our lives:
- Are we impressed with our own self-righteousness?
- Do we consider ourselves generally good rather than definitely wicked?
- Do we exalt ourselves or humble ourselves?
- Do we value the company of those who can benefit us or do we enjoy the company of the outcasts of society?
- Do we make excuses for why we don’t need Jesus or do we gladly receive His invitation?
- Is Jesus more important than anything or anyone else in our lives?
- Are we willing to believe and follow Him, even if it means giving up everything else?