12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15)
The disciples call Jesus out. “You know, Jesus, you are kind of being a jerk.” He has offended the Pharisees. The respected religious leaders. Today they would be pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers.
Called out by his disciples Jesus quickly relents. “Oh, I am sorry. I did not mean to offend. What I was trying to say… ” Oh wait, no he doesn’t. Instead His veiled words become clear insults. The Pharisees are “Blind Guides” who are about to be uprooted because they were not planted by the Father!
Jesus is not what we expect. We expect good. And He is good, but our definition of good includes being nice. Able to play well with others. But Jesus was not nice. His inability to play well with others, these insults, paved the way to the cross.
What does this mean for us today? For the church today?
Throughout the gospels Jesus is a constant critic of the religious establishment. But He shows amazing grace toward outsiders – towards sinners. He invites prostitutes, tax collectors, beggars into His Kingdom (He does not accept their sin – while not casting stones, He demands “go and sin no more.”). At the same time He declares the religious leaders, the ultimate insiders, are on the outside of God’s Kingdom.**
In the same way the church must demand the truth of Christ’s followers. While showing unending grace to those living in darkness.
A hard balance. Even a tightrope. Falling to either side misses God. Too much truth and we wallow in legalism. Too much grace and the message is diluted to be pointless.
The only way to remain in balance is to remain in Him. In relationship His Spirit will guide us to real goodness. Sometimes overflowing with grace that accepts anyone. At other times rupturing with truth to even insult. But always with the goal to draw every person into the Kingdom.
**Christ was declaring everyone to be an outsider. The “sinners” already knew the truth and did not need convincing. But the pharisees were blind to reality. Which should be a warning to us. Perfecting religion is not the same as being a part of God’s Kingdom! The Pharisees – memorizing swaths of scripture – were better at religion than most anyone we know. But they missed entrance into the Kingdom!