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Matthew 12:14

Threatened

14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.


Self-centeredness is the most dangerous of all human characteristics, even when it is exhibited as self-righteousness. The self-centered person sees himself as the center of the universe. He becomes his own god. The self-righteous man is not much different. He thinks of God as being indebted to him for his good behavior. Having earned his way into heaven, he might even begin to see himself as the good guy and God as a person full of anger and condemnation.

The thing that makes such persons dangerous lies in the fact that their self is all they have. Their world is built around self-esteem, self-satisfaction, self-indulgence, self-reliance, and self-aggrandizement. When their self is endangered, their entire universe is set on the verge of collapse, and they become scared and desperate.

Examine the situation of the Pharisees and the other religious leaders of that day. Their identity and self worth was based solely on their self-righteous lifestyle. Their position in society was dependent on the recognition that they received for their obedience to the religious laws. Their authority over other Jews was due to their obedience to the same laws. Their eternal future was due only to their own perfect obedience.

Enter Jesus Christ, who says, "You don't even understand the law. How can you pretend to obey it?" Suddenly the earth trembles and everything that these Pharisees have spent their lives working for begins to sway dangerously. Where is their righteousness, if the law that they obey is wrong? Where is their right to the kingdom of heaven, if they have misinterpreted the law all of their lives? Where is their station in life, if they are reduced to common depraved sinners?

They had to defend their position, so they set a trap to show that this Jesus was nothing but a blasphemous sinner. He ate and drank with sinners, His disciples didn't fast, His disciples picked grain on the Sabbath, He claimed to be more important than the temple, He implied that He was God, and He healed on the Sabbath, yet He was guilty of no offense. His challenges to their law were knowledgeable and solid. His reproofs were issued with authority. They had no legitimate rebuttal to His arguments and their self-righteousness was being exposed as a fraud.

What was left for them? Since their whole lives were based around self, their pride would not allow them to confess their sins and repent. Their only alternative was to destroy the One who was threatening them. Whether this was right or wrong was not a consideration for them. This was a matter of the survival of the self, their unrecognized god, the foundation for their existence.

So they gathered together and they plotted. Anger, bitterness, and embarrassment, all growing out of the worship of self, saw their manifestation in the premeditation of Jesus' murder. Luke's account of this scene says, "And they were filled with madness"

Don't you know, dear Reader, that you have the same problem with self that the Pharisees have? Haven't you ever been upset, hurt, or angry when someone criticized your skills, or your beliefs, or your favorite habits etc.? Haven't you ever been a little bit jealous when someone substitutes for you in some task or position and then gets much more praise than you've ever received? That is because your self is being attacked.

When your life is built on your abilities, your work, or your creativity you will be offended and hurt by anything that threatens it. However, when your accomplishments are recognized as coming from the Spirit of God working in you, when it is God's ministry, you will not be offended. You will trust the outcome to God, because you recognize it as His ministry and not your own. You will be able to respond to attacks on your ministry in a godly way, because He is the center of the ministry, not you.

You could also become every bit as dangerous as the Pharisees, if you do not deny self and follow Jesus. Try to apply what we have discussed in other areas of your life... at work, at home, at the ballpark, or at the mall. How much self is involved in what you do there?

Before The Throne:

Pray that God would help you to decrease so that Jesus can increase in your life. Ask Him to help you put on the new man, the one who is totally surrendered to Christ. Ask for His help in putting away jealousy, anger, resentment and other destructive emotions. Come to Him and receive your rest.

For Further Study:

(v.14)
** went. Matt 27:1; Mark 3:6; Luke 6:11; John 5:18; John 10:39; John 11:53, 57;

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