|Titian’s St. John the Baptist|
Though we often speak of the Pharisees and the Sadducees as though they’re part of the same movement, they were actually two distinct groups who opposed each other on some key issues.  But regardless of their differences, there were both Pharisees and Sadducees who came to hear John preach and even to be baptized by him. To them, John’s message was not “Repent,” but rather, “You brood of vipers, who told you to repent?”
From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.
Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die. 
|Not this kind of evening out|
I just finished a dystopian novel called The Road by Cormac McCarthy. In it, an unnamed disaster has befallen the earth, and a little boy and his father are on the move. They’re starving much of the time, and most of the people they encounter are very scary. But one day they come upon a very old man, dressed in filthy rags. Much to the father’s chagrin, the little boy offers the man some of their food. And because his son offered it, the father was compelled to share. But later he tells his son, “When we’re out of food, you’ll have more time to think about it.”
- The Pharisees get a bad rap, but they were much more aligned with the common people than were the Sadducees, whose service mostly was to the rich and powerful. The Pharisees also incorporated oral tradition into their belief system, while the Sadducees would’ve been considered biblical literalists. And finally, the Sadducees didn’t believe in a resurrection (see Matt. 22:23 & Acts 23:6-8), while the Pharisees did. For this reason, it is often said that Jesus himself would’ve been considered a Pharisee.
- See Matthew 3:7-12.
- C.S. Lewis, The Apologist’s Evening Prayer, from Poems, W. Hooper ed. (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1964), p. 129.
- See Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17 & Luke 5:32.
- Isaiah 40:4.
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road, audio edition (New York: Vintage Books, 2007).
- The theological term is sanctification.