When He told the Pharisees that tax-collectors and prostitutes would enter heaven before them. What did He mean He said who lives by the sword dies by the sword to Peter? Why are the Pharisees sins so important to Jesus? Jesus seems to care more about interior sins rather than external vices (drinking, sex, etc).
The prostitutes and tax collectors knew that they fell far short of a godly life, so there was always hope for repentance. The Pharisees, however, justified themselves and considered themselves to be righteous. There would be no repentance from them unless their eyes were opened to their hypocrisy.
In particular, the interior sin of pride, because it’s not just a matter of weakness, but of defiance. And to the degree that pride accompanies “external vices,” they are all the more contemptible.
There is some speculation that Jesus was associated with the branch of Judaism whose group name is Essenes.
In the 1st century BC, the Essenes were apparently rivals for orthodoxy with the Pharisees or a group close to the Pharisees (and with the Sadducees, to paint the whole picture). One of the Dead Sea Scrolls that enlightens this rivalry, in vivid terms, is called Pesher Nahum (interpretation of the prophecy of Nahum). Their criticisms of the Pharisees or a group close to the Pharisees is complete, saying that they mislead the people from the truth and lead people away from the observance of the Torah (God’s “instruction”).
And the author of Pesher Nahum refers to that rival group by a nickname, the Seekers-after-Smooth-Things.
If this fits together as the modern commentators indicate, then Jesus seems aligned with the Essenes, at least in a general way. Another person mentioned in that scroll was someone who was referred to as the Teacher of Righteousness, the teacher of the Essene perspective on the Jewish law.
The animosity between these groups may be the basis of such a statement, by John the Baptist (I think, or Jesus) who referred to the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers” and “hypocrites.” Whether this is specifically true or not, this was the sentiment between these major groups in Jesus’ time.
(Of course, if Jesus was aligned with the Essenes, he would not have been around the Jerusalem temple so much, which they did not recognize.)
This is my ‘take’ on what I have been reading lately.
I love reading posts like this. So very educational. Thank you so much!
I have also speculated that the Pharisees utilized their positions for power, control, and greed. Jesus revealed them for what they really were, thus becoming a threat. Prostitutes and beggars humbled themselves and repented. The Pharisees, for the most part, did not. Therefore, the “camel through the eye of the needle” statement.
My two cents. Certainly not as eloquent.
The Pharisees held a position of authority. Therefore their influence over others was great.
“External sinners” potentially caused a lot less harm to others’ souls.
It a good thing to notice. It really shows how the mystical Kingdom of Jesus is the Kingdom of Jesus in our hearts. Jesus read the hearts of everyone he spoke to; he knows the hearts of everyone who ever lived. He cares about the state of our hearts. And we are supposed to, too. Its why we need the Sacramental graces to grow in grace. To grow our hearts right.
What did He mean He said who lives by the sword dies by the sword to Peter?
The particular Holy Bible verse is St. Matthew 26:52.
Whereupon Jesus said to him, Put thy sword back into its place; all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword.
There are various interpretations.
A natural one is mentioned by Cornelius a Lapide, who teaches that the verse refers to unjust use of arms, where the unjust attacker deserves to perish. After all, Christ had told the disciples to take swords with them, but not to use them, which St. Peter did without permission.
Both Cornelius a Lapide and Euthymius suggest that here Christ hints to the coming destruction of the Jews, who, raising their swords against Himself, would themselves perish from the swords of the Romans, who destroyed the Second Temple in AD 70.
Mystically, St. Jerome says in the Catana Aurea that the sword by which one perishes is the fiery sword in Genesis 3:24 or the sword of the spirit in Ephesians 6:17, which can be taken to mean that the unjustly violent will not enter Heaven.
D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:
Ver. 52. Shall perish by the sword. This was not to condemn the use of the sword, when employed on a just cause, or by lawful authority. Euthymius looks upon it as a prophecy that the Jews should perish by the sword of the Romans. (Witham) — Our divine Saviour would not permit this apostle to continue in his pious zeal for the safety of his Master. He says to him: put up thy sword. For he could not be unwilling to die for the redemption of man, who chose to be born for that end alone. Now, therefore, he gives power to his implacable enemies to treat him in the most cruel manner, not willing that the triumph of the cross should be in the least deferred; the dominion of the devil and man’s captivity in the least prolonged. (St. Leo)
I personally would have serious reservations about associating Jesus Christ with the Essenes.The Essenes are the only one of the “three philosophies” of the Jews at the time, that are never mentioned in the NT, probably because they had a complete disassociation from society and they would most certainly consider themselves unclean if they came anywhere near a sinner.
If He condemned violence, then what about all the solders that converted.? It doesn’t talk about soldiering.
Excellent post and like this entire thread, more information to add to the foundation I am trying to build to be better able to get everything I can out of the RCIA program.
For various reasons, my memory can sometimes fail me but I seem to remember multiple instances in the Scripture readings I have done so far where Christ Jesus, when asked why He associated with certain classes/types of people, stated that He was going where he was needed, at least as I interpret those passages and as some of the commentary suggests.
If you take that into consideration, would He not then go into the Temple to reach the very people who needed His teachings the most?
This post is in response to your last statement about the Essenes. He may have been aligned with their path and may even have been considered a member but He had his own mission which was far greater than that of the Essene community as I understand them from current interpretation of their writings and archaeological research on their community.
Interior sins are the source of any and all exterior ones.
moral superiority maybe worse than carnal sins
True, if by that you mean pride, the granddaddy of all sins, and the self-righteousness that flows from it that enables or justifies pretty well any behavior man can conceive of.