The Righteousness of the Scribes
The Scribes were men who had devoted
their lives from their youth. Little did they realize that the current system of
Judaism was empty and dead. Jesus came to expose that system and reveal that the
law was insufficient to save menís souls and He Himself had come to redeem man
from the curse of the law.
Their oral traditions had taken precedence over the written Word of God and Jesus exposed the Jewish authorities for their greediness, hypocrisy and deception. By developing a system of rules for people to follow, they forgot the heart and spirit of the law. Their prescriptions did not allow anyone the freedom to truly seek the LORD.
What is amazing is that the Scribes had devoted their lives to the minute details of the Word and the commentaries that had been passed down by wise men who had also devoted their lives to the minute details of the law. Yet in all of their learning they had missed the most important reason for the written Word of God. The fact that the Jewish people existed for one reason, the promised Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel, AND the Gentiles.
God had faithfully enriched His people with the accurate knowledge of who and
what the Messiah was to be, so that when He comes they would surely not miss
Him. When Jesus came to Israel, to what He called His "home", those who
were "His own, received Him not." They missed Him. Jesus wept over the
city and sadly announced the impending doom that was to befall her. In 70 AD the
Romans came and leveled the city of Jerusalem.
The Scribes thought that righteousness could come from the law. This will forever remain manís biggest mystery, that religion is not enough to save a man and religious devotion is not enough to enter the Kingdom of God. His heart must be humble and honest before Godís Truth.
Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through Me."
During the time of Jesus Christ there were Jewish teachers who explained the Torah, the law of God, by translating it (The Targums arise from this group), and giving commentary in the form of Haggadah (parables and various sayings) and would carefully show how the instructions of the law, for example, laws relating to the Sabbath and food, were to be lived out in everyday life (Halachah).At this time, in addition to the written law, volumes of explanations were given, believed to have been handed down orally by men of God. These oral commandments carried with them great authority. It is exactly these oral traditions which is referred to in the New Testament. (Mark 7:9; Matthew 15; Galatians 1:14).
Most of the time the Scribes earned their living by copying and interpreting the law. They were not in absolute agreement as to their explanations of Scripture, which were usually given in the Beth-hamidrash (House of study).In the New Testament the Scribes are mentioned as the "teachers" of the law, the rabbis and the official leaders of the people, along with the Pharisees, and the Gospels referred to them as "doctors of the Law". According to the New Testament they sat in the Sanhedrin (Matt 16:21).
Jesus came into conflict with the Scribes often because He and His disciples did not observe their traditions. Mark 7 describes an example of Jesus and His followers not observing traditional rules in relation to the Sabbath and cleanness. In Matt. 23, where Jesus pronounces his woes upon the Scribes and Pharisees, He repeated His prophetic curse upon them, "Woe to you" eight times because of their arrogance, hypocrisy, self-seeking ambition and scrupulous observances.