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Good Guys, Bad Guys, or Us Guys?

Getting to know the Pharisees
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Adventures in Missing the Point". See series.


Anybody here grow up in a legalistic, fundamentalist type of church? The emphasis in those kinds of churches is on keeping the rules, lots and lots of rules. The preaching is always about those rules, and who in the church was breaking the rules. Only they weren't just the rules in the Bible. The thing that kept me off balance was the rules that no one had told me about. The unwritten rules.

As I grew older, I came to see that those rules usually influenced just the public behavior of people. They seldom influenced their private behavior. Those rules also influenced the biblical interpretations and theology in those kinds of churches.

For example, I grew up believing that when Jesus turned the water into wine, it was really Welch's Grape Juice. And that when King David grew so excited about bringing home the ark of the covenant that he danced before the Lord in his boxer shorts—he was really not dancing. See, if you understand the Greek, it says he was really just nodding his head and tapping his toes—fully dressed.

In fact, I'll bet you didn't know that, in spite of being born to a Jewish mother and growing up in Palestine, Jesus was a Caucasian—blond haired and blue eyed. He wore a military haircut and had no facial hair. He went with his cousin John to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and to prayer meeting on Wednesdays. He spoke in 16th century English and, if the pictures of him in our Sunday school curriculum were accurate, he always had an expression on his face like he had an upset stomach or someone in the band had stinky feet.

I was in seventh grade when our church had a youth lock-in. This was a little church, maybe a dozen kids. We were having a big time—drinking cokes, ...

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Ed Rowell is pastor of Tri-Lakes Chapel in Monument, Colorado, and author of Preaching with Spiritual Passion (Baker).

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Sermon Outline:


I. Who were the Pharisees?

II. What was the big conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees?

III. Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus