Luke 5:[17] On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. [18] And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, [19] but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. [20] And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” [21] And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” [22] When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? [23] Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? [24] But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” [25] And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. [26] And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

The problem with the Pharisees was not that they were wrong to try to make sure that Jesus was legitimate. There were probably all kinds of charlatans claiming to be the Messiah in and around Palestine who needed to be checked out. As people responsible for the spiritual well being of the people, they would have been shirking their God given responsibilities not to put travelling teachers and healers to the test. But the problem with the Pharisees was the standards they had erected. Their measure of what is right and wrong was not the Scriptures given by God. Their measuring rod was their own self righteousness, their own flawed traditions, whether biblical or not, their own power and influence, and whether Jesus would submit to them. No one could pass such a test. No one can today.

Whenever a person measures others against himself the ones he is measuring will always look less than required. Whenever someone criticizes, they then get measured against the grid of how much they agree with that person’s words and actions. Disagree? Then you are the bad guy. It is all so very convenient.

There is no way that Jesus will ever pass the Pharisees’ tests. The tests are flawed and Jesus is not. Jesus will not agree with the Pharisees because they are wrong. He will not submit to them because to do so would be to forsake God for sin filled tradition and hypocrisy. The Pharisees understand their job of filtering out evil. But they do not know the difference between good and evil and the real thrust of the Law or the measure of what God really wants or finds pleasure in. Given their distance form real truth there is no way that Jesus will ever look good to them.

What a lesson for us. We too can set up standards that reflect us more then the Scriptures. We too, can make agreeing with us the measure of righteousness. We too can come to believe that submitting to us and our way of doing things is what God requires. And God will be no more pleased with us in doing these things than He was with the Pharisees in their opposition to Jesus.

When it comes to judging between right and wrong, determining what leader to follow, what statements to believe, the first thing to ensure is that our measuring rods are accurate. We need to know and believe and practise and be reading and memorizing and studying the Word of God. Even then it is possible for us to err. But we will err much more if we do not know our Scriptures. We are not the standard of righteousness. We are not the measuring rod of truth. We are not the embodiment of what others need to follow. The Word of God and the triune God are. We do not put Jesus to the test. He tests us and it is our job to make sure that we listen to him and change our lives into that which He directs.