I have just written a review of Stephen Scott’s book, “Why Do They Dress That Way?” It is posted under “Book Reviews.” This book covers, in detail, the various types of dress by Amish, Mennonite and Brethren groups plus a few others. These religious groups are characterized by their plain dress which they wear as a mark of nonconformity to the culture in which they live. However, the multitude of dress regulations are given at the descretion of the church groups themselves. They are man-made regulations that contribute to the identity of the group and separation of the group from all other groups. They reject conformity to the world, but insist on conformity to their peculiar dress code the specifics of which originate with men and not with God.
There are two passages of Scripture in the New Testament that reveal one of the motives involved in bringing about Jesus’ death was envy. The first is Matthew 27:18 where Pilate perceived that envy was involved in the desire of the chief priests and elders of the Jews to crucify Jesus. “For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.” The second is found in Mark 15:10 and is parallel to Matthew 27:18. An astute observation is made by Pilate who was interested in the motives of the Jewish leaders who insisted on the death of Jesus.
For an insight into the nature of envy as it works in the hearts of these Jewish leaders, consider the following quotation from Elsa Ronningstam. Drew Pinsky quotes Ronningstam in his own book, The Mirror Effect, p. 160. He is quoting from Ronningstam’s book, Understanding and Identifying the Narcissistic Personality. Here’s the quote:
“Envy-prone people who experience goodness in another person feel the goodness to be painfully insufficient and resent both their own dependency upon the other and the other’s control over the goodness. Envy is defined as hatred directed toward good objects. Compared to “regular” hatred, in which the good object is protected (and) the bad object is attacked, in hatred with primitive envy another’s goodness is experienced as a threat to the person’s own grandiosity or idealized self-experience, and the goodness is destroyed. In other words, by attacking the good object, the person is trying to ward off feelings of pain, vulnerability, dependency, and defectiveness that are evoked by recognizing the threatening goodness in another person. Envy can destroy the possibility for hope and diminish capacity for enjoyment.”
Pilate attempted to release Jesus because he knew He was innocent. However, the chief priests and elders pressed the issue and demanded that Barabbas be released and Jesus be crucified. “But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him” (Mark. 15:11-13).
Envy played a significant role in the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jewish leaders hated Jesus because they knew that He possessed a greatness and goodness that they would never possess. Jesus became the object of their hatred because they despised His goodness! They attacked the goodness they saw in Jesus because of the profound defectiveness they felt in themselves!
In the final analysis, envy, working in the hearts of these men, destroyed the most noble of all lives–the life of the only begotten Son of God.
The following story is one that I think you will enjoy. A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside. “That laundry is not very clean,” she said. “She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”
Her husband looked on, but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash out to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?”
The husband said, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows” (House to House, March 12, 2009).
You have heard the old saying, “your perception is your reality” but have you ever considered that your perception may be distorted because the “lens” you looked through wasn’t clean?
In Matthew 22:23-33, Jesus encountered a group of Sadducees that were attempting to catch Him in some compromising situation. They desired to discredit Him and destroy Him. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the body and consequently, denied life after death. They held a false view that led them to a distorted view of reality. In that context, they asked Jesus a question. The question involved a dilemma (only from their perspective which was compromised by their false view). They told about a woman who had been married to seven different men over her lifetime. She married the first man and he died and so on until the seventh man. Then, they asked Jesus, in the resurrection, whose wife would she be?
Jesus immediately corrected their false view by exposing it to the truth of the Scriptures. He told them that they erred. He stated that they did not know the power of God (they did not know God) and that they did not know the Scriptures. They had a distorted view of God and of the Scriptures. From the vantage point of this perspective, they created a dilemma that ended up exposing their own ignorance.
Jesus makes the following points: (1) In the resurrection, there will not be any marriage; (2) in the future state, the redeemed of God will be like the angels. They will no longer be subject to the limitations of the flesh (the mention of angels was a further comment on the ignorance of the Sadducees for they did not believe in angels either); and (3) the Scriptures teach life after death. He proceeded to cite Exodus 3:6 which, when properly understood, taught life after death and demonstrated that the resurrection of the dead was certainly possible. “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Moses wrote Ex. 3:6 (but ,God was the ultimate source of the words) around 1500 B.C. Abraham lived many hundreds of years before that time. Abraham had been dead quite some time when Moses wrote Ex. 3:6. Yet, Jesus showed that the Scriptures used the present tense (I am the God of Abraham). In some sense, Abraham was still alive. His body was dead, but his soul still lived. Jesus proved there was life after death. The Sadducees denied the doctrine of life after death. Jesus used the truth of God’s Word to correct their faulty perception.
Truth purifies the heart (I Pet. 1:22) and helps us see things the way they really are. If we pervert the truth, we distort reality as God defines it and head down a pathway of destruction.
The Sadducees were the sophisticated materialists of their age! Today, we have many secular humanists and atheists who believe that there is no life after death. They would do well to consider Jesus’ words to the materialists of His day and correct the distorted perceptions that they entertain.