By Susan Nero

Contrasting the Awareness of Jesus in the lives of the Pharisees and the disciples of Jesus

As we prefaced our devotional on David and Saul with the Mosaic Covenant; once again the Lord is leading us to look at His Covenant with David before we begin our devotional this morning about Jesus, the Pharisees’ and the Disciples.

After the people’s extensive disobedience to the commands made in the Mosaic Covenant; God made a covenant with David as a means to bring the people back into relationship with Himself. This covenant with David actually builds on His covenant with Abraham as it relates to the lineage of the future Messiah, Jesus.

“The Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Matthew 1:1

In this covenant, God announced to David that Messiah would come through his family, and would be known as “the Son of David.”

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33) (2 Samuel 7:12-17) (Psalm 132)


2 SAMUEL 7:12-17

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name. and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, BUT My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure from before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.

For David this meant the prophecy of the Messiah coming in his line, from his offspring. It would be that when the Messiah, The Son of David came, He would institute a New Covenant that the apostle Paul would later describe as one, “Not of the letter (law), but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

(2Cor 3:6)

Jer 31:31-34 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."



( Applicable to our present day ) “Any plan for the betterment of human society that ignores the sin problem is destined to failure. It isn’t enough to change the environment, for the heart of every problem is the problem of the heart .”

The New Covenant isn’t just another renewal of the Old Covenant or even the Davidic Covenant; the new covenant is new in every way . The new covenant is inward so that God’s law is written on the heart and not on stone tablets. (2 Cor 3) The emphasis is personal, with each person putting faith in the Lord and receiving a “new heart” and with it a new disposition toward godliness. \

The Old Covenant tried to control conduct ( Pharisees), but the new covenant changes character (disciples ) so that people can love the Lord and one another and want to obey God’s will. “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20), but under the new covenant God promised “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). It is this covenant that the Jews will experience in the last days when they see their Messiah and repent (Zechariah 12:10-13:1). Jesus came to usher in the New Covenant, the Jews rejected it.

The basis for the new covenant is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Because the church today partakes in Israel’s spiritual riches (Ephesians 3:1-6), anyone who puts faith in Jesus Christ shares in this new covenant. It’s an experience of regeneration, being born again into the family of God (John 3:1-21) (Nicodemus)

However, as we will see in our devotional this morning; this new covenant as prophesied in Jeremiah, held very little importance to the Pharisees. They were so caught up in the doctrines and precepts of men and teaching the Mosaic Law that there is little evidence that they studied the prophecies in any depth. They wanted to hold on to that which was passing away!!

At the time Jesus began His ministry, only the Jews were looking for a future Messiah. They were aware of prophecies from God foretelling of a time that their Messiah would come and rule the world in righteousness; but they believed in a spectacular concept of the coming Kingdom; a King like David that would rule and reign and free them from Rome.

How this reminds us of the people’s choice and concept of a King like Saul over God.


JESUS AND THE PHARISEES: A Picture of Self Righteousness

This made them unaware of their need for a Savior

I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)

In an attempt to look at the lack of awareness of the religious leaders’ need for Jesus we must begin with the Pharisees’ background and beliefs:

The Pharisees were known as “the separated ones”. They were the keepers of the Mosaic Law. They believed that having guardianship of this law was proof that they were God’s chosen people, to whom the Messiah would come. They believed that the Messiah would be an earthly king, a son of David whom God would raise up.

They were aware of prophecies from God foretelling of a time their Messiah would come and rule the world in righteousness; but they believed in a spectacular concept of the coming King, a King like David that would reign, but a “warrior” King that would free them from Roman oppression How this reminds us of the people’s choice and concept of a King like Saul over God.

Col 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

They didn’t understand the power that sin had over them and Who had come to bring deliverance!

Because of this, the experts of the law set about “adding” to the Mosaic Law with precepts and customs which had been handed down through the years. They took the precepts to such extremes that the original intent of the written law was often lost.

To the Pharisee, keeping the law, both written and oral, was everything! The condition of a person’s heart towards God was unimportant. Jesus tried to set them straight on many occasions.

Matt 23:25-26 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Because of their strict adherence to the Law of purity, they kept themselves separate from gentile sinners (on whom they looked down), or anyone who did not strictly adhere to their concept of the Law.

The Pharisees’ placed great importance on Temple worship, but they had no personal relationship with God. Their worship was only formal and “religious”; while they paid no attention to the motives of the heart. This led to self-righteousness and hypocrisy. They had the outward appearance of holiness but lacked inward reverence to God.

Rom 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The Pharisees’ “movement” soon became quite legalistic, and its leaders laid so many burdens on the people that it was impossible to “serve the Lord with gladness.” Furthermore, many of the Pharisees’ were hypocrites and did not practice what they preached.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus violated many of their oral laws. He broke their Sabbath laws by healing people. He forgave people’s sins, which to the Pharisees’ was blasphemy.

A good example of this conflict can be seen in Luke 5:21-26:

“But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, ‘Who does He think He is? Only God can forgive sin!” “But Jesus

knew what they were thinking, so He asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” — He said to the man who was paralyzed, ‘I say to you , arise, take up your bed and go to your house.’ Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, praising God and the Saducees’ were filled with fear .”


For making the claim to forgive sins, Jesus was in essence claiming to be God! In these verses in Luke’s gospel it is the first recorded use of the title, Son of Man, where it is found 23 times. Warren Wiersbe comments: “Our Lord’s listeners were familiar with this title. It was used of the prophet Ezekiel over 80 times, and Daniel applied it to the Messiah (Daniel 7:13,18). Certainly, the Jewish people caught the Messianic character of this title.”

This comment that the “Jewish people “caught” the Messianic character of “Son of Man”, helps us understand many of Jesus’ criticisms of the Pharisees’ for their hypocrisy and self- righteousness. (Luke 11:37-52) In the Pharisees’ eyes, Jesus was a threat to their popularity and their authority over the people . And for this reason they plotted to kill Him.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus was openly opposed to the Pharisees.

He denounced them publicly for their hypocrisy, spiritual blindness, and evil ways.

The Pharisees had been entrusted with the guardianship of the Law which was God’s gift to Israel.

The law was intended to enable the Israelites to live righteous lives. But the Pharisees had corrupted the law. Disregarding any ethical considerations and possessing no mercy, they imposed an intolerable burden of legal observance upon the common people. Life for the Jews became slavery to the precepts invented by the “experts” of the law.

The religious leaders wanted to keep the people in bondage; Jesus came to set men free. (Jn 8:36)

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for being careful to appear righteous

on the outside, while inside they were full of greed and wickedness.

“That which defiles a man is the evil condition of his own heart”

(Matthew 15:11), (Mark 7:14,21)

Jesus called them blind guides who had shut the gates of heaven so that neither they nor the people could enter.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in!” (Matthew 23:13)

We can look at this scripture verse in Matthew as being a sad example of when man-made traditions of religion obscure the path of God, and of relationship versus religion.

The Pharisees are a picture of religious observance while the disciples (as we will see later) are a picture of loving obedience. Only the latter example will enable those to experience His presence to the full.

(John 14:21) He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."

As wicked and rejecting as the religious leaders and the people of Jerusalem were, Jesus still loved them. He still desired to do good for them. He still wanted to protect them. He said, “I wanted to protect you; I wanted that closeness with you, but you were not willing.” In Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem, we hear the heart of God.


“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt 23:37-39)

Oh, how we who sorrow over the “lost” loved ones in our lives can take such comfort from this example of God’s love.


The Lord does not want us to rest on our own “knowledge”; He wants us to be alert (aware) at all times to His presence. Knowledge alone does not work . It did not work with the scribes, chief priests or the Pharisee—and it will not work for us.

1 Cor 2:9-12 But as it is written:

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

What is the New Testament way to find and follow the Lord? By to continually keep an awareness of His Presence. He is here, He has promised to never leave us so, “come and see.”

Pharisee Nicodemus did; he came to Jesus at night to hear what God wanted to say to man. The Israelites hadn’t heard from God in over 400 years and now Nicodemus recognized “ One who was clearly from God ” and he wanted to hear from Him. He came to Him and found the way to eternal life!

“Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you.” “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-9


I referred to several of the gospel chapters in order to compile a picture of the disciples’ awareness of Jesus and the task seemed to be exhaustive.

UNTIL the Lord “brought my attention” to a particular Volume that was way in the back of my library. It was very old originally printed in 1806. My copy was a little “newer” 1873. The title alone is exciting to read:




Descriptions of Palestine, Ancient and Modern

Lives of the Patriarchs, Kings and Prophets


Most Eminent Reformers, Luther, Melancthon,Calvin &c.

and sketches of the ruins of the celebrated cities


and others mentioned in the sacred writings

to which is added

A Clear And Concise Account of the Late Explorations

And Discoveries in Jerusalem and The Holy Land

True site of Sinai and the Demoniacs and Swine,

Great Cities of Bashan, Route of the Israelites, Etc.

By Rev. J.W.Harding, D.D.

Illustrated with numerous Beautiful Steel Engravings

Published by

Hugh Heron, Chicago, Ill.


If I wrote all of the descriptions of each of the Twelve it would take hours; so, I chose a few of the disciples and how they first became aware of Jesus to give us a mini picture of them and their relationship with Him.


Jesus was constantly revealing the motives behind those who would follow Him. Some wanted liberation, others wanted a free meal, others asked for signs. He would eventually weed out those who were not sincere in their devotion to Him.

ANDREW and JOHN: were disciples of John the Baptist before they ever met Jesus. John 1:35-40). This speaks loudly about them, as disciples, not just “listeners” or part of John’s audience. They would have shown that they understood the message of John the Baptist, which included that the Messiah was coming soon. Obviously JB would have taught about the spiritual situation of the times and so they would have seen through the “religion” and corruption of the spiritually bankrupt Pharisees.

John the B’s opinion of those religious leaders is clear from when he met them, calling them “the offspring of vipers.” Also clear is that JB was a great prophet and since his followers were actual “disciples” John would have taught the truth of prophecy and the error of the religious system of his time. A true seeker must be willing to follow the whole counsel of God. The Pharisees missed so much of what was foretold about Messiah. They had selective hearing!!

John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

One of the great truths John B would have taught his disciples was the he himself was the forerunner of the Messiah who was to come shortly.

“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23) (Isaiah 40:3).

“Again, the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’…… “And John B bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.” And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1:29-34


“Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked; he said; “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.”

They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day.

One of the two who heard John B speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. NOTE: It is held by most biblical scholars that the second disciple of John the Baptist that followed Jesus was the disciple John, writer of the Gospel. The assumption being that John never referred to himself by name.

They started as seekers, then became disciples (learners), learned true servanthood, graduated to friends!

John 15:13-16 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.


Philip, the first to be called to be a disciple of Jesus was a native of Galilee, yet was known to be “excellently skilled in the law and the prophets.”

Scholars (“Metaphrastes") assure us that from his childhood, Philip had been highly educated, frequently read over the books of Moses and attentively considered the prophecies relating to the Messiah.

“The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”… Philip found Nathaniel (his brother) and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathaniel said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward Him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathaniel said to him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree. I saw you.”

Nathaniel answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus said “Because I said to you; ‘I saw you under the fig tree do you believe?” “You shall see greater things than these.”

John 1:47-51

The reason I chose these examples to focus on was because it illustrates to us the following:

  1. Jesus knew what was in man; He knew what was in their hearts.

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given

Me out of the world.” They were Yours, You gave them to Me,

and they have kept Your word.” John 17:6

2. These were ordinary men - nothing unique about them not special men

Just like us.

3. Jesus never handled any 2 alike, Andrew was cautious, Peter

impetuous; Philip the intellect; Nathaniel guileless. Jesus spoke

differently to each of them. He understood them.

Isa 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One

Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:

"I dwell in the high and holy place,

With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,

To revive the spirit of the humble,

And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

We too are called to be His disciples, that means He knows what to send into each of our lives. He knows where to put us. The people He wants us to be with (difficult as that might be) He put there. He knows what to permit into our lives; He chooses it.

We are to trust Him; obey Him and put ourselves in His hands. His promise is that, knowing us thoroughly He will act in love for our best interests, for our good. And He will do what He starts out to do by making each one of us like His Son.

That is the example of what it means to be a disciple of our Lord.

References: Ray Stedman /Authentic Christianity

The Christ and the Apostles by Rev. J.W. Harding, D.D. 1873

Gospels and the Holy Scriptures