The Power of Pride…
I’m continually amazed at the unbelief of the religious leaders, known as the Pharisees. They were the authority of Jesus’ day on the Holy Scriptures. They were knowledgeable and rigorously trained in the teachings of the most respected theologians of the Jewish faith. They, of all the people, were the strictest adherents to the Mosaic covenant. They had the general respect of the masses as men of God, examples of righteousness and holiness to be emulated by all. Then came Jesus.
The gospel accounts demonstrate that nearly every encounter between the Pharisees and Jesus resulted in greater animosity, and more hostility toward the one who called himself the Son of man. Why? What was it that caused their blood to boil? Couldn’t they see that Jesus was the literal fulfillment of the Messianic prophesies? Weren’t they able to make the connection as they observed the many healings, miracles and signs He performed? Did they not listen to His teachings about the Kingdom? How could they have been so blind?
The answer lies in the fact that they enjoyed the accolades of men, and Jesus was threatening their livelihood. He was moving in on their turf, and the masses were now coming out to hear Him, instead of them. Yes, jealousy, exposure of their corruption, denouncing of their hypocrisy and potential financial loss all played a role, but there was more to it than these. The root cause of their bitter hatred was pride.
They could not let go of their pride. It consumed them. It drove them like an opiate to a dependence they could no longer control, for it controlled them. The Pharisees were, among all men, most to be pitied. That’s what pride is capable of. That’s why all of us must immediately deal a death blow to pride when it manifests itself in our lives. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18), though very scriptural, is an understatement. Pride is the very cause of the fall.
Pride is like the spiritual equivalent of the force of gravity. It’s an invisible force, yet overwhelmingly persistent. Gravity, one of the weak forces of nature, is able still to affect every object within its sphere of influence. The gravitational force of a black hole in deep space, for instance, is capable of sucking everything, even light, into itself. So it was with the Pharisees. They got sucked in by pride. So too, could any of us.