Daily Devotion for November 3, 2010
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
May the Passion of Christ be ever in my heart. May your law and your goodness guide my every thought, O Lord. And may the power of your Holy Spirit flow through my words and my actions.
Walk with me, so that I may not be alone as I face this day, but always in your presence. Your joy is a lighthouse in a world often dark with sin, and I pray that I may inspire others as I have been inspired. In the name of Christ, bless me this day, and all who I may meet.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Pharisees, Sadducess, and Herodians, Oh My — The Pharisees
Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
Notes on the Scripture
We have used this well-known passage before in Daily Devotionals. I thought it would be interesting, for a couple of days, to talk about the various Jewish religious/political factions, especially since Jesus refutes the Sadducees in the next passage (beginning at Mark 12:18).
The Pharisees were a group of influential Jews active in Palestine from the second century B.C. through the first century A.D.. The Pharisees advocated and adhered to strict observance of the Sabbath rest, purity rituals, tithing, and food restrictions based on the Hebrew Scriptures and on later traditions. Thus, they often became upset when Jesus broke (or appeared to break) these observances, and they frequently accused him because of it.
The word Pharisees comes from the Hebrew verb "parash", meaning to make something separate or distinct. This group became known as Pharisees because they made themselves distinct by their exacting adherence to the practices of the Torah. They also followed rules set out by the "traditions of the elders", interpretations of God's will made by distinguished scholars (very roughly similar to today's Talmud). One might think of them as the Orthodox Jews of Jesus' time.
Needless to say, such a large group with such strongly held beliefs inevitably became a political force; even today this happens, but the implications of religion in politics were infinitely greater in ancient Israel which was, after all, a state based on religion. At that time of Christ, they were the great political and religious rivals of the other great popular denomination of Judaism, the Sadducees, vying for influence among the rulers and the people.
The Pharisees were primarily the party of the working class and the rural regions. Although I wouldn't take it too far, they might be compared to some of the more fundamentalist Christian denominations in the U.S. today, only they were much more generally popular and powerful. One primary theological distinction was that they believed in the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees did not.
Paul himself was a Pharisee, as were some other early Christians. This makes sense, as the Pharisees were similar to the early Christians in a number of respects, such as emphasis on personal conduct and the reliance on teaching and scholarship. In fact, some of Jesus’ harshest polemics are directed against the hypocrisy and blindness of the Pharisees, but this is not so much because they were farther from Christ's own teachings, but rather, that they were the springboard against which Christ's rebellion could occur.