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Watch Out for the Pharisees

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
March 25, 2021 8:00 am

Watch Out for the Pharisees

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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March 25, 2021 8:00 am

When the wind picks up and dark clouds roll in, we recognize those indicators as sure signs of a looming thunderstorm. On this broadcast of The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll learn that the truth of God’s revelation is even more obvious than physical changes in the weather. And yet, like the disciples, we often miss the signs that are right in front of our eyes.

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When the wind picks up and dark clouds rolling. We recognize those indicators as sure signs of a looming thunderstorm on this broadcast of the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will learn that the truth of God's revelation is even more obvious than physical changes in the weather. And yet, like the disciples, we often miss the signs that are right in front of our eyes are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Why did Jesus describe the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees as being like yeast. Let's listen in as Dr. Boyce explains the meaning behind this metaphor and the warning it still conveys for us today they were going study of an important chapter of the Bible 16th chapter of Matthew and I invite you to turn to that begin by saying that every chapter of the Bible is important.

You know what they say about all people being created equal or ass. All people are created equal, but some are equal than others. That's the way it is with the Bible all the chapters of the Bible are important, but some are more important and Matthew 16 is one of those more important chapters are certainly the central are the critical chapter in the development of the story of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ is Matthew tells it, or to put it another way, it's the high point of his teaching this.

Here where he has spent teaching the disciples chimed encouraging their growth and spiritual understanding.

We might even put it another way, we might say that it is the climax of those chapters we have been studying in which Jesus withdraws from the masses as much as he is able to do so in order to concentrate his teaching on the disciples he spends a lot of time with them privately is a section that began with the 13th chapter of Matthew, when he began to speak in parables explained that at the time of saying it. So the masses wouldn't understand but those who are spiritual writers would been made so by the work of the Holy Spirit would understand it would begin to grow in the chapters. Following that he's tried to teach them on what we have seen in those chapters is the disciples coming along little by little step-by-step having their eyes open by little degrees to perceive who Jesus Christ actually is and what he came to do when we read on. In this chapter we find this great five point in the confession of Peter Guzman.

Jesus asked the disciples said that he was. It was Peter who spoke up for the rest and said you are the Christ, the son of the living God. That is the critical high point. The first thing they had to say was, who Jesus Christ actually is and as soon as I understood that Jesus went on to teach about the necessity of his death and suffering we might say, of this chapter worse trying to explain why it's so important that it contains. The first mention of the church in the New Testament. Certainly in Matthew's gospel is also the place where Jesus presents this critical teaching about what discipleship is all about the size of anyone would come after me, you must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Mesa we have there. The identity of Jesus Christ as person. We have the work of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross we have the identity of the churches. Those who are being brought together to know and follow him and then we have the path of discipleship set out clearly so were not exaggerating when we say this is the critical chapter or when we point out that it is a very important chapter in the New Testament teaching begins with a prelude, which is another confrontation between Jesus and the religious teachers of his day. Matthew introduces them as the Pharisees and the Sadducees says that they came to test Jesus by asking them to show them a sign from heaven was a very odd combination of forces because the Pharisees and the Sadducees were quite different. Matter of fact they were as different as any two groups of people could be in Jesus die Pharisees for their part, were the strict observers of the law very name means separated and what they meant by that was that they were separated from the world in order that they might be separated unto the Bible and the traditions of Israel. They were the most highly spiritual people of the day.

The most highly thought of their zeal for the law did indeed lead them into a kind of legalism and the sad preoccupation with the my new show of the law distorted their understanding Jesus condemned that all that aside, they believe the right things. I had a supernatural or biblical world in life you really believed in the afterlife. They believed in the supernatural, written revelation. I believe in miracles.

I believe in the coming of the Messiah. They believed in the final resurrection and the final judgment wall that was good.

These were really spiritual people on the other hand you have the Sadducees they were exactly the opposite. I work for them today would be modernists or secularists. I didn't believe in miracles.

I certainly didn't believe in the resurrection. It's true that they didn't believe in a Messiah. Every Jew believe that the Messiah Messiah. They believed in was really just a political figure will be the equivalent of a powerful and very effective king. Perhaps they would say one blessed by God, yes, but no more than a mere man really politicians is what they were and that their policy was to collaborate with whatever power actually seemed to be the strongest in Israel at the time and it was the Romans during these days. Now those are two very different groups of people, yet warlike love makes strange bedfellows, as they say in here because they were at war with Jesus Christ.

They came together fact that they were together probably suggests that they were representatives of the Sanhedrin because the Sanhedrin is High Court of the Jews was composed of representatives of both parties were probably right to think that this was an official delegation right as you read the story. They seem to of been waiting there in Galilee for Jesus Christ to return from the north.

He had been out of the country is work with his disciples gone a long time now.

He was coming back and it almost seems that they were waiting there to meet him soon as he appeared, they presented themselves and they voice their demand and their plan was a Sholom sign from heaven and really a sign that they were after what they were trying to do is discredited. That's what Matthew says testing him on in an honest way to see if he measures up to the task, therefore, will acknowledge him as the Messiah, but rather as a way of discrediting him. He couldn't possibly be Messiah if he doesn't do the kind of tests we present before slowly, and I checked as I listened to it that there must be been a certain arrogance in her voice I we might believe you should sign from heaven.

This point Mark tells us something that Matthew doesn't work as the same story in a parallel form. It works as a Jesus sighed deeply. Mark 812. We can conclude from lattice when Jesus answered he answered with like we might call heaviness of heart.

We have to read the tone of the story here, and later to understand what's really going on. Jesus was distressed, but here these leaders of the people those who were appointed by God to be the spiritual leaders willing to recognize him as the son of God and the Messiah and draw the people to him. On the contrary they were doing their best to discredit him and keep the people from coming to. So Jesus is in a quiet mood and certainly a heavy way said this to them was when evening comes, you say it will be fair weather because the skies read in the morning and say today and will be storming because the sky is red and overcast know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you can't interpret the signs of the times many have this judgment. He said a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous line, but none will be given to it except the sign of Jonah and then he left them and went away last sentence he left them and went away ominous meaning.

We've already studied the side of Jonah. We don't have to look at that again Jesus said that almost the identical words in the 12th chapter.

But what's new here is his reference to the leader, skill in predicting the changes in the weather.

We understand that right away because we have a saying something like it.

Red sky at night sailors. The lights red sky in the morning sailors take warning, I got I think we might actually be closer to what Jesus is talking about here. If we think about our own preoccupation with weather reports no some people watch the evening news on television chiefly to see the weather predictions which are really quite amazing. Often it's the only good news of the day and even of his bad news is not as bad as the good news that you got on the rest of it.

It's quite astounding isn't it.

We have satellite pictures that display cloud cover and moisture density.

We have computer-generated graphics of clouds, rain and snow patterns like pictures of hurricanes, floods, blizzards by day forecasts. The hurricane was coming up the coast this summer. I use the Internet to get a printout from the national weather station of a satellite view of the storm itself. I can see exactly where the clouds weren't quite astonishing that we can do that yet. You know the case of Jesus were here and they were speaking to us that he might say something along these lines, he might say, you know you know how to forecast the weather.

I'm really quite impressed myself but you can't interpret the times in which you live you live from the day of God's grace I came I died for sin. I been raised for the debtor, that means nothing to you worry about whether it's going to rain tomorrow and you don't worry about the eternal destiny of your souls. So we asked the question what will ever get through to such a wicked and adulterous generation is wrong. Forget the generation that lived in Jesus to try and get through the answer is nothing less by the grace of God we come to believe on Christ as a result of the sign of Jonah, which of course is a sign of his death and resurrection.

Now we can understand the failure of the Pharisees and the Sadducees to perceive signs of the times course because there's was a moral failure of the reason I couldn't understand signs of the times and want to understand and repost the kind of righteousness I saw on Jesus Christ.

What really is astonishing is the inability of the disciples understand they are really dense and tempted to apply the title of a movie came out not long ago, dumb and dumber and will plant this way if the unbelief of the Pharisees was spiritually dominant. Certainly was the incomprehension of the disciples were certainly dumber number because they had every reason understand that every help for their understanding that again this is set in the context of the story after the confrontation with the leaders, Jesus gets into a boat with his disciples and goes back over the Lake of Galilee again back and forth trying to get a little time alone with the disciples. He doesn't seem to be able to do it, but the does go back across the lake with them and we learn.

As the story goes on the worries headed and eventually reaches of Caesarea Philippi. It's as far north as you could go and still be in Palestine so he's as far away from these leaders were centered in Jerusalem as possible. This is the last withdrawal after this is a start coming back.

He eventually moves on to Jerusalem where he is crucified. Now Esther? Was Jesus thinking about as he got into the boat with the disciples story makes it perfectly clear what he was thinking about was the unbelief and hostility of these religious leaders should've believed on him, but they wouldn't do it.

Moreover, they were keeping other people from believing and we know that Jesus was thinking along these lines and was troubled by it because although we been silent for a period of time. Suddenly, he speaks up and it has to do with a warning for the disciples he says be careful.

Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus was warning them against legalism and the modernism of the leaders of the people. That's what Jesus is thinking let's ask another question. What were the disciples thinking about they were in the boat, traveling across the lake with Jesus again, that's perfectly evident what their thinking about his food and that any breakfast they were afraid they were good get any lunch. And so when Jesus suddenly speaks up and tells him to be on their guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

All he could think about was food in the thinking must've gone something like this Jesus case East is used in making bread bread.

We don't have any bread really brought along one loaf that's what Mark tells us, we forgot to print anything or not he must be upset by this because we didn't bring lunch I when Jesus was confronted with the Pharisees, Mark tells us that he sighed deeply confronted with that kind of unbelief. I think although neither Matthew nor Mark tells us at this point, the Jesus must decide even more deeply when he heard the disciples response. How could they be so dull after all he was teaching ours bread was concerned. Heaven's sake.

Had they learn anything we multiply the lows and efficiently fed the 5000 later fed the 4000 if he was able to do that should be really worried that somehow we wouldn't be able to find enough food for them to eat and so they'd start with I got over there the other side of the lake and gallantly they be so imperceptibly been on that simple level but if you go a step beyond that wasn't the worst failure.

All the worst failure was not that they failed understand about the brand in Jesus and ability to provided that they didn't understand what he was talking about spiritually when he referred to the yeast of the Pharisees. I thought he meant bread food and all of that he was talking about their teaching were told when Jesus said to them that he wasn't talking about bread that it finally got through their thick skulls and they perceived that he was talking about the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Verse 12. Well, we're tempted I think at that point to say they really worked up, and we're a lot smarter than they are.

But you know if you ever feel that we got all the answers. All you have to do is read the commentaries and you find that the scholar don't agree on anything, and when you read them at this point, you find all kinds of interpretations about what this false teaching of the Pharisees of the Sadducees really wants DA Carson approaches the question from the context of the gospel is really the right way to start. He sees the problem as an attitude of unbelief toward divine revelation that could not perceive Jesus to be the Messiah. He says I fly the next section is so important because their beer makes his confession and it's not on the basis of manipulative signs on the basis of a revelation from the father.

It's pretty good Craig Keener who has another contemporary writer thinks the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees were cynicism says the disciples. Passive unbelief suggests that the threat of pharisaic Lebanon is closer to them than I would've guessed. RT France says was the insidious effect of the attitude revealed in a request for assignment and then to give an ancient authority about Luke writer of the third gospel. He says that their error was hypocrisy.

What are we to make of those various explanations will probably this is one of those cases where like a test. You might have with multiple-choice ABC and D&D is that last sentence is all of the above.

It probably is all of the above place it all goes together, but I think probably Carson's approaches right, recognizing that Lucas certainly writes it was a proper sleep, Carson said, you have to consider the context.

I would say yes but the context is broader than chapter 16 is a Pharisees of already been met with in chapter 15 what Jesus was talking about. There was there excessive legalism there adding human rules and regulations. The gods revelation Jesus was coming to them with the gospel of pure grace, but they thought what they had to do to earn God's favor was keep all these legalistic rules.

Jesus had a judgment on the back of my chapter. He said these people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain.

Their teachings are but rules taught by man. Well, that's a Pharisees. What about the Sadducees there mentioned to well up the problem of the Pharisees was adding to God's revelation problem of the Sadducees was subtracting from it. They dismiss the miracles. Basically they dismiss the Bible's otherworldly outlook believed in the resurrection of believers and so all they had to live for was success and prosperity here and now. Another case whether by a legalism that was adding to the revelation of God or by a modernism that was subtracting from it. These men were all disposed to reject and do away with Jesus and is why they had come asking them for a sign of this is not just past history is not antiquarian is reason this is presented here and the reason we talk about it is that these two errors are always present in the church as well is in religion generally. Which means there are constant danger, something we always have to wrestle against one error is to try to live by law rather than by grace.

Here are some people who take their relationship to God seriously.

I don't understand the depths of their own depravity is sin. They don't understand the depth of God's grace and so they think that what they have to do either is earn salvation by their works are somehow add true what Jesus Christ is done by their works.

Paul had that in his day, it was true what was happening among the Galatians and he wrote to them, warning them against beginning with the spirit of than trying to attain your goal by human effort.

He said it's impossible live by grace and works at the same time the two systems are incompatible and salvation is by grace alone. Some people do that many people in the church are like that.

But here's the other error. It's just as insidious. Pharisees were intensely religious. They wanted to add human traditions of the revelation of God. Sadducees weren't religiously wanted to reject anything that sounded supernatural and so what they were trying to do was live by the standards of the day is what most people are like today. Some of them. Unfortunately, even in the church and another biblical worldview.

I just think as the world thinks of what they're trying to do is get by the way the world gets by what Jesus is doing here is warning against both use is warning you now you find yourself in either one of those camps.

When he says be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees yeast is a small thing, but it grows it permeates to get worse and worse and that's what he saying of these two errors. If you move in a legalistic direction will become increasingly legalistic and you'll never get to grace you will worldly direction where you have no sense of the supernatural will never get to the gospel. The gospel will do you any good because it's the only thing that really is good news of the gospel of God's justification by grace alone because of Christ alone received by faith alone. That's what it's all about. There is no other gospel. Now let me close by going back to what Jesus told the Pharisees if all of them because they were unable to interpret the sign right thing, obviously, is to interpret the signs correctly and that leads me to ask this question of you.

Are you able to interpret the signs above all you able to interpret our times well enough to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 1311 is using this imagery when it says do this, understanding the present time because the hour has come for you to awake from your slumber. Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

What is it mean to be aware of the time so understand the times in which you live.

Let me suggest four things are all based on Scripture verse one.

Galatians 14 this text says that Jesus died to rescue us from this present evil age.

This means time is wholeness is the world and its culture apart from God and Jesus Christ.

What Paul is telling us that ours is an evil time in which we need to be delivered to make any progress in your spiritual life. Until you begin there as long as you think the world is wonderful and love the world and you can't love the world and the things of God. At the same time.

You have to understand is that this world out there which presents itself in such an attractive guys particularly through modern media is world the crucified Jesus Christ would do it again and had the opportunity Jesus said when he was about to depart from his disciples the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world would love you as its own, as it is, you don't belong to the world.

I have chosen you out of the world. That is why world hates you a little further on in his high priestly prayer. He said my prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. One.

Understand the times in which we live. You have to begin that perception. Here's the second comes from second Corinthians 62.

Paul writes, I tell you now is the time of God's favor other words, although this is indeed an evil age. It's also an age in which God has acted in Jesus Christ to accomplish our salvation also wrote when he was writing to the Galatians when the time it fully, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law.

We might receive the full right his sons was an evil age but is also the age of grace.

There's 1/3 text, Luke 1944 Jesus was approaching Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday and were told that when he observed that as he came down from the mountain, he began to weep saying the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you hem you in on every side, they will dance you to the ground.

You children with in your walls they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you as a way of saying that God had given them time to repent, but they wouldn't do it in turn to him and be saved. And so eventually the judgment came.

That brings us to the last of these four texts that have to do with time. First Corinthians 729 it says the time is short.

Other words, this is indeed a day of God's grace, but it won't last forever for your wise enough to interpret the times correctly, it will turn to Jesus. Now tell you about one person who did his name was St. Augustine's UC led wild and somewhat profligate like just as many people do today.

He grew older he set his mind upon fame and worldly success. Just as many people do today. He found himself in high positions in society and he comforted that above all, including the praise of those who were in high positions. Just as many people do today God was working on his heart. One day he was in the garden of a friend's estate of Malan Italy and her children singing on the other side of the wall, a word which in Latin, went total like I had meant picked up and read book that is an indication that he should read the Bible, so we went to the other end of the garden where a Bible was lying.

He picked it up and he began to read and what he turned to was those very verses in Romans that I mentioned a moment ago understand the present time now is come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over. The day is almost here.

So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light is behave decently as in the daytime on orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not dissension and jealousy rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature of the grace of God. St. Augustine read the signs of the times correctly.

He turned his worldly way of life. He embraced Jesus Christ as his Savior. He went on to become the greatest theologian of the church up to the time of the Reformation knows God might do with you if you would read the times correctly and turn to Jesus Christ but spray our father, we thank you for this time we have had to study your word together. We thank you for this great chapter of the lessons that are there. We asked for the added grace. We might actually understand these truths of the deep personal level and begin to put them into practice in our lives that should please you pray for those here who have embraced Jesus Christ as Savior that they might do it this hour turning from sin. We pray Jesus name. You are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by.

We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us online alliance that God Lord for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Ruse Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M1 C2 line 9 ask for your free resource catalog between books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian. Thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study


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