Sadducees and Pharisees tend to get a bad rap, and rightly so. They were the wealthy and elite who cared about how they were seen and perceived at the expense of others. They were concerned with their religiosity to the point that they would choose law over life and healing. So, yeah, their lousy rap was well-deserved.
Jesus wasn’t bashful; he did not hold his anger and frustration toward them. We read in Matthew’s gospel that Jesus warned his disciples to watch and beware of the leaven, to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. A few verses later, he warned the disciples about their teaching.
So what about them and their teaching does Jesus want us to know and understand? He wants us to know and understand that our hearts matter. Jesus isn’t interested in our religiosity or in our following the letter of the law to a T; he wants our hearts. In other words, he wants our allegiance and devotion. In the Pharisees he saw hearts far from God, hearts that didn’t care about others and hearts devoted to reputation, wealth, and status. Sound familiar?
We begin to look and act like Pharisees when we are preoccupied and care most about the wealth we accumulate, our status in society, and how we are perceived. That is also when we neglect to care for others.
So, be on guard and examine your hearts.