The (Self-righteous) Walk with God

Luke 18:18-27

 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’

And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.  And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?”  But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

 Fr. Alexander Men in writing about self-righteousness, describes the Pharisess at the time of Jesus:

 The idea that there is some “list of deeds” by performance of which it is possible to gain absolute righteousness gave these lawyers no peace.  They competed with one another in striving for the punctual observance of all customs sanctified by the centuries.  And thus, as has often happened in the history of religion, piety became a gloomy grotesque.

The people called some of the Pharisees shikma—“strong-shouldered” because they always walked around hunched over, showing what an enormous weight of soul-saving feats they had to bear.  Entering the temple Jesus could see that the Pharisees were gathering across the square, constantly stumbling into passersby.  They were afraid to lift their eyes lest they should accidently look upon a woman.  They were called in jest Khitsay, “don’t-hit-your-head.”

It is natural that Christ’s freedom should have irritated and frightened such people; they saw in it temptation and threat to their good morals.  In that era, according to the commentary of a Hebrew historian, the Pharisee-Shammaites steadfastly preached a flight from the world and asceticism.  To say, for example, on looking up from a theological treatise, “What a beautiful tree!” was considered a mortal sin.  The Pharisees also reserved a large place for fasting.  Jesus, although He recognized these external exhibitions of faith, did not make them the center of religious life.    (Fr Alexander Men, Son of Man, pgs 93-94)