The Essenes observed the purity laws of the Torah. They had a strong sense of mutual responsibility but avoided marriage like the plague. They took oaths of piety and obedience but believed in fate.

 

The Zealots opposed the paying of taxes to a pagan emperor. They believed strongly in Jewish tradition and were vehemently opposed to the use of the Greek language. They also believed in a time of salvation. (One of Jesus’ chosen Twelve was called Simon the Zealot.)

 

Who Did Jesus Think He Was?

 

Remember the story of the lame man who was lowered into a house while lying on a mat by his good friends? Well, here’s another side to it. One day as Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of the law (the Scribes, most of whom were Pharisees) decided they were going to sit in and listen to what Jesus was saying. As they were listening and the man was lowered right in front of Jesus, he looked up at the friends, then down at the paralytic and said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

 

Well. The Pharisees and teachers of the law went into a tizzy. Only God could forgive sins and (in their self-righteousness) most probably only if He asked permission from them! Though they didn’t say anything out loud, their thoughts went directly from their hearts to the mind of Jesus.

 

“Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?” he asked them. “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (He then looked at the paralyzed man again)…”I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

 

The man stood. (See Luke 5)

 

And the wheels of God’s plan were most firmly set in motion.

 

NEXT: From The Religious Hypocrites to Pilate’s Court to a Hill Called Golgotha

 

Award-winning national speaker Eva Marie Everson is a recent graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her work includes the just released Sex, Lies, and the Media (Cook) and The Potluck Club (Baker/Revell) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.evamarieeverson.com.