The scribes and Pharisees were critical of Jesus' disciples because the disciples did not wash their hands in the way prescribed by the tradition of the elders (Matt. 15:1-2). Instead of responding immediately to the charge made, Jesus took the fight to their front doorstep by noting that they were using tradition to circumvent the commandment of God to honor father and mother.
The Pharisees had adopted a tradition that allowed a man to devote all or part of his assets to the service of God. The consequence of this “loophole” was that a man could retain such assets for his own use, but refuse to use them in the aid of his parents since they were “corban,” a gift to God (Matt. 15:3-6).
Following His rebuke of the Pharisees, Jesus made a startling comment to His disciples, “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (vs. 14). “Blind” Pharisees?? Although the hypocrisy of the Pharisees was visible to some, for many Jews the Pharisees and scribes possessed a thorough knowledge of the Mosaic Law and probably were considered living examples of righteousness.
How could Jesus describe a group of people so familiar with the Law of Moses as “blind”? It IS possible to have a lot of Bible knowledge and yet not really understand the “core principles” of the will of God. The Pharisees were experts in the details of Scripture and the rabbinical interpretations of the law, but they did not really understand what service to God demands. Their problem was not just ignorance; their attention to detail and ritual, while denying the power of godliness, created a favorable environment for hypocrisy as previously noted.
Their blindness was illustrated by their inability to see the effect of their “corban” tradition -- they were actually transgressing the commandment of God (Matt. 15:3, 6). There were other occasions when the blindness of the Pharisees was even more egregious. For instance, Jesus healed a man blind from birth on the Sabbath day (John 9), but the Pharisees, upon hearing of and confirming the miracle, could only criticize Jesus as a sinner because He “broke” the Sabbath, to their way of thinking! They never “saw” the implication of the miracle for their interpretation of Sabbath-keeping.
We ourselves can become “blind” for a variety of reasons. Sinful ambition (being self-willed) and greed, among other character flaws, often blind people to the true nature of their actions. If we shut our eyes enough times to sin in our own lives or the lives of others, we eventually become virtually “unable” to “see” the error. We must also beware of the Pharisaical blindness, the inability to distinguish between our own traditions and the actual Law of God. What a terrible waste -- to dedicate ourselves to the study of God's word -- only to become blind experts in details and regulations without any real understanding of the spirit of the Law!
As you watch the news, one thing is quite certain; life is filled with dire circumstances of personal problems or natural calamities of one kind or another. As such circumstances befall men, many times the question comes, “Is there any hope?”
The Bible teaches, “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (1 John 2:17a). Peter wrote, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (1 Peter 3:10). When one asks if there is any hope in this life and the world in which we live, the answer from the Scriptures is clear; No! The sobering fact is that those who place their trust in this life and what it has to offer will be lost without any hope.
But to truly answer the question, “Is there any hope?” The answer is “Yes!” This is because of Jesus Christ and his coming to earth and living a perfect life among man and sacrificing himself for us. Jesus died on he cross to redeem us from sin (Eph. 1:7). Because of the death of Christ we might have life (1 John 4:10). Because of Jesus' resurrection we have a hope that lives. Peter reminded those he wrote to of this fact when he wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). So indeed, there is hope in God. The Hebrew writer refers to this hope as “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:19). This hope is our stabilizing force through the storms of life, as an anchor is to a sea vessel on the stormy sea.
This hope is available to all who will put there trust in God (Heb. 11:6); repent of their sins (Luke 13:3); confess Christ before men (Rom. 10:9-10); be buried in Baptism in the name of Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4); and live faithful lives in serving God (Rev. 2:10). John writes “and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 John 2:17).
The phrase in the Old Testament for dealing with the complexities and challenges of life is to '“wait on the Lord.” The Psalmist spoke to his own soul in the face of life's injustices saying, “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:1,5). We cannot grow tired or weary of doing right nor can we grow impatient with the world and decide to run ahead of God to accomplish something for Him-- we must learn to wait on the Lord.
The impatience of Israel is seen as they turned their heart from depending on God; to worshipping the golden calf (Exo. 32); to complaining about food and water (Exo. 15:22-25; 16:1-17); or to consuming the quail without proper preparation (Num. 11). Recalling such events, the Psalmist declared, “They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. And he gave them their request…” (Psalm 106:13). Yes, God gave them the cravings of their impatient heart but it ended in sickness, premature death and greater disappointment.
Life is difficult at times for all of us. At times it would be easier to “give up” or “give in” to the pressures of life. However, in the end the immediate relief we sought would not work for our good. Waiting on God is being able to see the end from the beginning (Heb. 11:23-27).
Even in the New Testament we are encouraged not to grow weary but to wait on God. Yet, such instructions comes to us with greater assurance for our salvation. Namely, Christ, who bore our sorrows and griefs, is in heaven making intercession for us, as we draw near to God's throne in prayer. “Therefore He is also able to save to the utter most those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). Remember Jesus encourages us to pray and not grow weary. It is through earnest prayer that we learn to wait on God and consider the end of all (Luke 18:1-7).
To wait on God takes faith and courage. We must remember in His time. God will right the wrongs and punish the evil (Eccl. 3:11). As we live by faith, we have this blessed assurance that “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).™