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Bible Story: Pharisee & the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14), Pharisees try to trap Jesus (Matthew 22:15-22)

The Pharisees were a group of people in Jesus' day that were known as the spiritual elite. The Pharisees were the ones who taught people about God and performed many of the religious duties that were commanded in the Old Testament. This group of people were the people who should have been closest to God, but as we read through the gospels, we find out that this was far from the case.

In fact, the Pharisees were one of Jesus’ biggest opponents during his ministry. Generation after generation, the Pharisees began to twist God’s word and make it say things it did not say. They would then force these new unbiblical rules on all the people they taught.

The Pharisees were so influential because they had quite a bit of power. They were in charge of keeping the community straight and keeping everyone in right standing before God. Because of this responsibility and influence, they treated people harshly, especially those they disagreed with.

Some of the things we know about the Pharisees come from Jesus’s own words. He stated that the Pharisees were hypocrites, they would say one thing and do another. Many times, they would judge and condemn people for things they were doing themselves. The Pharisees had little accountability, and it gave them the ability to do whatever they wanted. They were righteous in their own eyes, but in the eyes of God, they were dirty and evil sinners.

When Jesus came on the scene, he and the Pharisees clashed. Part of the reason for this clash is because Jesus saw them as they were, and he called them out on it. Jesus was flipping the religious order upside down with his message of mercy paired with justice. The Pharisees had an established power hold on the community, and they saw Jesus as a threat to their power.

Because of this, they plotted ways to take Jesus out. Eventually, they were the ones responsible for turning him over to be crucified. The enemy had a stranglehold on the Pharisees, and he used them to have Jesus killed.

Looking back, it is easy to criticize the Pharisees for their ignorance and evil spirits. But truthfully, too often, we are much like them. Too often, we are hypocrites, and too often, we disobey what Jesus is telling us to do. Too often, we let our religion and our traditions get in the way of our relationship with God. That was the Pharisees' problem, they built a wall between themselves and God. We, too, do the same.

However, Jesus made a way. In his death which we and all the other Pharisees were responsible for, Jesus gave us life. He died for all our sins and promised us eternal life if we just believe in him.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pharisees were hypocrites

  • Pharisees did not like Jesus

  • We act a lot like them, but Jesus made a way!


Parents, 3treesKIDS will also be learning about Pharisees this Sunday, both in-person and online.

Be sure to check out their lesson at

To find service times and locations, visit

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