I was pondering some things on the way to work today and suddenly stumbled onto this little thought - 'My inner Pharisee'. It seemed to come out of nowhere and so also seemed worthy of some extra musing. I was actually surprised at what came out of it. For a long time I have held the opinion that the modern day Pharisee is one who is zealously legalistic and incessantly judgmental. This also seems to be the view of a lot of other folks I know. Something changed for me today though as I went over it again in my head. The usual demarcation of Pharisee versus guttersnipe (harlot, drunk, tax-collector what have you) suddenly disappeared and when the dust cleared all these people were on the same side of the line. The funny thing was that there were counterparts on the other side of a new line. Not mirrors or muses, but rather former herd-mates of those on the wrong side of the line. Now this all seemed weird because I always saw the guttersnipe crowd as being the ones that Jesus was hangin' with and the Pharisees as the firewood of heaven. It amazes me how shortsighted I can be. I forgot all about Nico. The Pharisee that sat with Jesus one night and got the low down on the kingdom. It seems he was paying attention to what was said because he also was the one who helped take Jesus down from the cross. Hmmm. There were others as well who were not specifically named, but found their way onto the right side of the tracks. Of course there is also the most ferociously right winged Pharisee of them all, Saul/Paul, who also made the leap. Then there were the others on the guttersnipe side like the unrepentant thief on the cross next to Christ. He definitely was heading for a perpetual bad day. Barabbas was another one who probably looked Jesus right in the eye and decided that he preferred the way he was already heading.
All these people have a commonality. It is their ability or inability to listen. Jesus said it to the Pharisees in particular ( probably because they were so close and yet so far which can really piss ya off), that they could not receive the kingdom because they did not think they needed it. More precisely they would not listen to the words of correction Jesus lovingly lofted their way. The thief wouldn't either, and it is safe to say that not every adulterous trollop, philandering barfly or moneygrubbing auditor did.
Jesus hung out with whoever would receive His words and thereby receive Him. His heart went out to all and was received by those who would, no matter their stripe. This should help me on that next walk I take through the pews or the mall.