Narcissist Case Studies – The Pharisees – How Jesus Responded To Their Backbiting

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Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He *said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.

Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?”  ut when Jesus heard this, He said, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassionand not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

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[Note:  Please see herehere, and here on how we know that the Pharisees were narcissists]

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Here are some observations:

  1. The Pharisees wouldn’t be caught dead eating with the tax collectors and sinners – they were too much above that.
  2. But, Jesus showed them up by eating with the tax collectors and sinners, and not doing things “the Pharisees’ way”
  3. So,while the Pharisees could not criticize Jesus for who He was (ie NOT a tax collector and sinner), they criticized Him for associating with people that they had deemed “unacceptable”.  He was not following THEIR self-made rules of who you could and could not associate with
  4. But rather than taking their issue to Jesus, they sniped at him to His disciples.  Cowardly?  Trying to undermine Him by driving a wedge between Jesus and His disciples – planting seeds of doubt in their minds?
  5. In this instance, Jesus proactively responded to their criticism.  As the Pharisees’ comments were not directed directly to Him He could have let it go.   It says “when Jesus heard this” – it may have been that the disciples reported the Pharisees’ comments to Him.

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Why and How did He respond?

  1. He may have wanted to deal with the doubt about Him which the Pharisees seeded in the minds of His disciples
  2. He used the Pharisees’ criticism of His ministry as an opportunity to teach the disciples what His ministry was all about.  God used the narcissists to present Jesus with a teaching moment.  And Jesus knew what to do with that opportunity.
  3. Jesus did not rebuke the Pharisees (do not rebuke a scoffer or he will hate you).  Instead He gave them them the same lesson He taught His disciples – “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”
  4. But then He also admonished them with an instruction / challenge – “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassionand not sacrifice,’”
  5. And finally, He explained Himself with a truth (“for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”) that they could easily use to justify themselves – if they were further hardening their hearts by continuing to think that they were  – or use to seek Him.   IE – a Pharisee who heard Jesus’ last phrase could easily say, “Oh right, He’s here for the bad guys, not me”, or he could humble himself and say, “I’m a sinner, and He’s here to help guys like me”, and begin to seek Him.  Its a parable that gave enough truth to seek Him with, for those who were willing.

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Please see here for the initial steps to know God personally

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Don’t Let Them Suck You Into Their Drama

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Narcissists are notorious for engaging in self-focused drama, while attempting to suck every one else in.  It’s one of their go-to moves to attract attention.  It might look like this:

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Jesus was well aware of the danger of allowing His narcissists – the Pharisees – to throw Him off His mission.  He engaged with them when they approached Him with a test, but did not make them the focus of His ministry.  He expressed His overall view to His disciples,

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“Let them [the Pharisees] alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”  Matthew 15:14
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“Let them alone” could be considered a version of the pop-psychology concept of “low contact”.  [As stated earlier in this blog, “no contact” and “low contact” greatly depends on the nature of the relationship.]
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One reason that Jesus did not make the Pharisees a focus of His ministry is that they did not feel they had a need, and were not genuinely open to what He had to say (with a few exceptions).   When the Pharisees slyly criticized Jesus for ministering to tax collectors and sinners, He responded:
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Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.   Matthew 9:10-12
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Jesus correctly focused on His true ministry, and did not let the drama which His narcissists tried to stir up to sidetrack Him.
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Let your Narcissist have their drama on their own time and in their own space, and don’t let them waste your time and life by drawing you in.

 

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“The People Of The Lie”

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John 9:39-41

39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

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One of the primary traits of the narcissistic Pharisees was their attitude of moral superiority and refusal to acknowledge that they had any sin – even though their inward lives were full of sin.  In this they deceived and lied to both themselves and others.  This can also be seen in Luke 18:9-14, Matthew 23:25-28, and Matthew 9:10-13.

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M Scott Peck was a psychiatrist whose personal journey ultimately led him to commit to Christianity.  By observation and analysis, through the lens of Christianity, he reached the same conclusion that Jesus had already made clear above.

Following are excerpts from a book he wrote on the subject

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Dealing With Narcissists* – Healing Their Victims

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There is much to learn from how Jesus dealt with the narcissists of His day, the Pharisees (see here and here on how we know the Pharisees were narcissists/scoffers filled with insolent pride).  It is instructive as to what He did and said in His dealings with them, but also what did not do, and did not say.   It is very interesting that in some cases, rather than trying to defend against the narcissists’ actions, He put His focus on ministering to those whom the narcissists “hurt”. Here are a couple of examples: . Continue reading

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