Today's passage: John 11:47-57
"Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves."
Reading verses 54-55, is it no wonder that Jesus called them vipers and hypocrites? One day they are consulting how to have Jesus killed, and when I say consulting, I don't mean just referring to it, I mean they were studying all avenues how to be rid of Him. It was a war counsel. They were deciding where it would best be done, who would take the lead and when it would be carried out. They had to plan carefully because He had multitudes following Him. They couldn't simply go in and arrest Him, the people might riot and then chaos would ensue. Perhaps this is why in a few chapters, we will see them take Jesus in the early hours of morning, they knew not many people would be awake.
So each day, they are having these war counsels, trying to finalize plans, it must have been more than one day because the verse says, "...from that day forth..." but the Passover is approaching, and they will need to start making preparations for that. During the day they are inspecting lambs, cleaning the Temple for the feast, apparently purifying themselves, but at night they are plotting someone's death. This purifying must only be outer, because there is certainly no inner cleansing taking place.
I'm wondering how often I harbor hate, bitterness, envy, jealousy, pride during the week, and then go for my ritual purifying on Sundays and Wednesdays as if everything is fine. Do I confess these sins on a daily basis? Most weeks I try to, but there are days I'm certain I don't. I'm no different than the Pharisees when I argue with my husband just before a church service and then walk in with a smile on my face and shake hands with the greeter. I may as well be having a war counsel if I walk into the church building ready to avoid someone I have had a confrontation with, toward who I may still have bitter or hateful feelings. I shouldn't enter God's House hoping that will make me pure, I ought to enter God's House pure already so that my heart is ready to receive what He has for me that day. How many times have I missed blessings in church because I have unconfessed sin in my life? How often might a person in the service have received Christ, but because of lugging my unexamined sins with me, the Holy Spirit was hindered? This is serious stuff. Too often I go to church to purify myself, when I need to evaluate my daily activities to rid myself of the impurities before I walk in the door. Am I a hypocrite? I would say no, but its hard to guard against all hypocrisy. Am I a viper? I think specifically of a snake coiling around and sinking his fangs into someone's back--backbiting. The Pharisees were guilty of this, so am I. I don't like to think of it as that at the time of the conversation, but when I say something negative about another person, and that person is not part of the conversation, that is what I am doing. Guilty as charged. How much more effective would all our churches be, if we learned not to do this? How much more could we accomplish if when we started to do this to one another, we would shush each other. Literally, shush someone who is starting to talk negatively about someone else. I wish I had been shushed a few times this week.
It is Wednesday. This means I will be going to prayer service tonight. I have a lot to confess to the Lord in the next few hours. I want to go to church purified on the inside, not just on the outside.