The Pharisees Rejected God’s Purpose for Themselves

The Real Pharisees

But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John” (Luke 7:30).

People often wonder if they have some special purpose in life. Of course, we all have the same general purpose – to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). But there are few in history that have had a specific purpose from God.

One individual with this type of specific purpose was John the Baptist. Jesus mentioned him in the context of His discussion of the Pharisees rejecting God’s purpose for themselves. Jesus said, “This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You’” (Luke 7:27; cf. Malachi 3:1). When John came, he had a specific purpose – to prepare the way for Christ.

However, when Jesus talked about the purpose for the Pharisees, He was speaking of the Pharisees (and others) in general terms. What was the purpose to which Jesus referred? God’s purpose for them was to save them.

The Pharisees “rejected God’s purpose for themselves” by not being “baptized by John” (Luke 7:30). This baptism was tied to forgiveness: “John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). When Zacharias prophesied of John’s mission, he said, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77). John’s baptism was for forgiveness which led to salvation. This was God’s plan. The Pharisees rejected this.

John’s baptism was later replaced by the baptism of Christ. This was made clear in Paul’s visit to Ephesus. When he found some disciples who had been baptized “into John’s baptism,” he instructed them to be “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:3-5). This baptism began at Pentecost when Peter declared, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Yet many of the same ones who rejected John’s baptism also rejected the baptism of Christ.

God’s purpose for all people is salvation. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17). He wants all to be saved and has given the plan by which we can be saved. Jesus told His apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Many people spend time wondering if God has some specific purpose for their lives while rejecting God’s purpose for them that He has revealed – to save them from their sins. Let us not reject God’s purpose for us the way that the Pharisees did.

So who are the real Pharisees today? They are not the ones who seek to obey the Lord to receive the forgiveness of sins. Instead, they are those who reject God’s plan of salvation.


The above post is an excerpt from the book, The Real Pharisees by Andy Sochor. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!